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What is the Meaning of Life

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Was Jesus the Son of Ggod?

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What is the Meaning of Life? Program 52 Was Jesus the Son of God? by Ernest O’Neill

What is the purpose of our life here? Besides you getting your salary at the end of the month or your wages at the end of each week, and besides the fact that you’re trying to bring up some children and trying to get them a good education so that they can get a good job so that they can have children so that they can get a good education, and they can get a good job so that they can have children, etc., etc. ad absurdum?

What is the point of life beyond that? Why do you think that we are all here? Why do you think you’re here? What’s the purpose of your life? What is the purpose of all our lives? What’s the purpose of the world? What is the meaning of it all?

You may say that that is too big a cosmic question for me. The biggest question that I can handle is what I’m going to have for dinner tonight or for tea or for supper tonight. “I can’t handle those other questions; they’re too big.” Yeah, but they are important, aren’t they?

It’s not such a big deal, really, tomorrow what you had for supper or what you had for tea tonight, but it is going to be a big deal someday, when you draw your last breath. It’s going to be a big deal: what the purpose of it all was. Now, you may say, “Well, yeah, yeah, I’ll wait till then.” But you know then that you won’t have the ability or the consciousness to deal with the question. You’ll have to have made the thing clear in your own mind by that time.

You won’t do it at that time. So what do you think the purpose of it all is? Most of us, of course, say that that is just too big a question for me. I don’t know what it’s all made of. I’ve never been off this world and this is all I know. It seems to me that in order to tell what the purpose of the world is you would have to live in some way outside it.

I don’t know of anybody that has done that. Muhammad hasn’t done it. He was a human being like the rest of us. Zoroaster hasn’t done it, great religious leader that he was. Confucius, a remarkable Chinese philosopher that he was, was just a human being like us. Even the Hindus and even people like Buddha and those who practice Zen Buddhism, they’re just human beings like the rest of us. They can’t give us any information from beyond space.

So what can we know? And that is the truth, isn’t it? In order to have any kind of explanation that is at all reasonable or rational or deserves our respect or our trust, we have to have somebody who comes from outer space. We have to have somebody who has left this earth and has come back to it and seems to have an ability to go both ways whenever he desires to.

Of course, there is only one human being like that and that’s the character that many of us have learned to regard as a religious myth. That’s the man called Jesus. He is, of course, far from a religious myth. The fact is, his life that is recorded in such detail in the last quarter of the book that you and I know as the Bible, his life is the most carefully recorded life of a man of that time that we possess.

If you say, “Well, that’s a long time ago. How do we know that what we read now is what actually took place in his life time?” Well, the evidence is strong. The historical evidence is strong that the people who wrote about him were real men of honesty and integrity, who have not only been respected in our day, but who were respected in their day as men who were honest and true.

They were men who said that they were eyewitnesses of his life. They actually observed him. They actually saw him die. They actually saw him risen from the dead. They were men who were there present when he did these things.

Whenever we argue that they might have had some ulterior motive for writing about him as if he was remarkable and unique, we see that they didn’t gain anything from what they wrote. They in fact suffered for it. So there is every reason to believe that what they wrote is what actually happened.

If we begin to wonder, well, do we have what they actually wrote? In other words, since it happened so many hundreds of years ago, well 1900 years to be exact, how do we know that the manuscripts that have been passed down to us have remained untouched and untampered with? Well, the sheer number of them ensures that.

If anybody had wanted to tamper with the original story of Jesus’ life, they would have had to change not just two manuscripts or six or seven or eight (as in the case of Julius Caesar’s “Gallic Wars”). They would not have only changed about nine or ten in the case of Plato’s “Republic”. They would have had to change some 4,000 Greek manuscripts that have been discovered all over the ancient world.

Four thousand different Greek manuscripts! So the manuscript evidence is incredibly strong and gives us absolute confidence that what we read about this man in the last quarter of the Bible is what actually happened in his life. Now was he, in fact, different from the rest of us? Was he, actually, any different from Muhammad?

Well, he certainly talks as if he was. He talks like the Son of God. He says, “He that has seen me has seen the Father.” If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen God. When he was being tried for his life, the interrogator said to him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” That is, are you the Christ, the Son of the Creator of the universe?

He replied, “I am. And you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of power and coming with the clouds of heaven.” He confirmed, even at the most dangerous moment of his life, that he was, in fact, the Son of the Maker of the universe. If you say, “Aj, many people have done that, too, and they’re lunatics and in mental asylums.” Yes, but he didn’t live like a lunatic.

He hasn’t the imbalance in his life that the lunatic has. If you say, “Yeah, but maybe he was just a liar or a con man trying to get great respect for his teaching” — that is illogical. He is regarded as the foremost ethical teacher that the world has ever seen. You can’t say that the foremost ethical teacher the world has ever seen, the greatest ethical life that has ever been lived, told a lie about the focal point of his identity. You can’t say that.

Was he a legend? Well, a legend requires time to grow up. There wasn’t that time. Twenty years after he was crucified reports of his life and records of his life were circulating around all the communities of the ancient world and there were many people alive who had seen him die. All they had to do was contradict it and it would have destroyed the legend.

There wasn’t time for a legend to grow up about him. No, this man wasn’t a liar; he wasn’t a lunatic and he wasn’t a legend. This man — you are forced, by simple, intellectual inference, to conclude — really did exist in the first century of our era and did and said the things that this Bible says he did and said.

Indeed, one outstanding scholar says that there is no question about any of the events in Jesus’ life. The only disagreement we have is with where to put a comma or a semicolon at times in the history of his life.

That’s the only question. The main events, the sayings, the actions of his life — we are more sure of those than we are of the history of any of the other personalities of ancient times.

As we study his life, was it in any way the kind of life that we would expect the Son of the maker of the world to live? Well, it was. He not only spoke like God, but he acted like God. That is, he did the kind of things you would expect the Creator’s Son to be able to do.

He said, for instance, quietly, to a storm on a lake, “Be still.” He didn’t just say it, you know. He didn’t just say, “Be still.” The waves actually smoothed out and the wind went down. That actually happened. That’s an event. It is more substantiated and reinforced than any event of that era. It’s found in Mark, Chapter 4 and verse 39.

He said quietly to a storm on a lake to be still and the waves smoothed out and the wind went down. He simply touched the withered skin of a leper and said, “Be clean,” and the man was instantly healed. That’s recorded in a book called Luke in the Bible, and it’s Chapter 5 and verse 12. He just said, “Be clean”, and the withered skin of the leper was smoothed out and was healed.

He had power over death and he raised a man called Lazarus from the grave. He actually just got that man up from being dead. It’s recorded in a book called John, in Chapter 11 and verse 17. He just said, “Rise up” (stand up) and the dead man rose.

He was able to change the very make-up of water so that water was changed into wine in a moment by his word. His life is filled with miracles like these which demonstrate the kind of power over nature and disease that you would expect the Maker of the world to have.

So, yes, he lived like the Son of the maker of the world. He did the kind of miracles that you would expect that man to be able to do. Is there any other reason for believing that he was the Son of the maker of the universe? Let’s look at that next time.