Accounts by Jewish and Roman historians written approximately 2,000 years ago corroborate many of the facts underlying the story of Jesus. They reference a man named Jesus who lived in first century Judea, which was ruled by the Roman Empire. They confirm that this man, Jesus, who preached a controversial religious message, was killed for doing so while Pontius Pilate was the Roman prefect in charge of Judea. Judaism historian Flavius Josephus referred to Him in AD93 as Jesus, the “so-called Christ.”
Ancient historians never debated whether Jesus existed, to the best of my knowledge. They debated who Jesus was – or is. Some dismissed Jesus as an illegitimate son of Mary. Some concluded that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah, as prophesied in the Old Testament. Some concluded that Jesus was a prophet – some a god. Some implied that Jesus was simply a teacher or religious man – others, simply a man.
There is no doubt who the men closest to Jesus believed Him to be: Peter stated that Jesus is The Christ, the Messiah, the son of the Living God.
Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do you think I am?’ “Simon Peter answered, ‘The Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.’ ‘God has blessed you, Simon, son of Jonah,’ Jesus said, ‘for my Father in heaven has personally revealed this to you – this is not from a human source.” (Matthew 16:16-17)
I sometimes wonder what I would say to Jesus were Jesus to ask me, “Who do you think I am?” If asked today, I would reflect His disciple’s reply and answer Him honestly, “You are God as I can understand You… You are my Lord, my Savior, and my Friend.”