As a seminary student who plans on spending the rest of my life telling people about Jesus, the most important question to ask myself is: is the Jesus who is portrayed in the New Testament in fact who Jesus really was?
In other words, can we trust historical credibility of the Bible? Do the stories and events that take place in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John actually take place? And if they do, did the writers of these books exaggerate or embellish their stories?
These are all very important and legitimate questions. One of the most famous quotes from C.S. Lewis was his accurate statement regarding how we view Jesus; either he was a lunatic, a liar, or he was in fact Lord. Contrary to popular belief, Jesus could not simply have been just a “really good person.” No really good people don’t walk around claiming that they can forgive sins, nor that only through trust in them anyone can receive salvation. Yet this is the very thing that Jesus did.
If Jesus was not who he claimed to be, and if he did not rise from the dead, then it would be a waste of time, energy, and your life to follow him. However, if he was who he says he was, then there is no greater decision we can make than to decide for ourselves who we believe Jesus to be.
And so the reliability of the New Testament is and the gospels is of infinite importance; can we trust it? It is often claimed that the Bible was written too far after the events they described to be reliable. However, if this is true, we wouldn’t expect the minor and seemingly irrelevant details to the stories to be accurate. But if the minor, easy to forget, and seemingly irrelevant details are in fact accurate, then it seems quite likely that the major details would be preserved as well.
Below is a 4 minute section (ending at 49:28) addressing one of the most popular stories in the gospels: Jesus’ feeding of the 5,000. If anything, this is a story that seems it could be embellished.
(You can watch the whole presentation here)