Jesus wasn’t unique? This is the argument some atheists promote about the Messiah. Bill Kluck espoused this idea in his debate with Andrew Rappaport. While a messiah figure can be seen in some modern movies (like Luke Skywalker in Star Wars), to say Jesus wasn’t unique is misleading. Therefore, let’s take a minute to see how Jesus is truly unique.
Jesus among the Myths
If one wants to compare vague facts between Jesus with heroes from history, then one might say any one of the Greek heroes could correspond to Jesus. Look at Hercules. His father was a God, his mother was human, he was opposed by supernatural beings, he had followers, and he did legendary divine feats. That sounds a lot like Jesus. That is, until one carefully considers the details:
Hercules was the son of Zeus and a mortal woman, Alcmene, the wife of King Amphitryon of Thebes and granddaughter of the hero Perseus. According to the myth, while Amphitryon was at war, Zeus came to Alcmene disguised as her husband. Zeus slept with her and she conceived. When Amphitryon returned home, he too slept with her, and she conceived another child. When the twins were born, Hercules was declared to be the son of Zeus and the other child the son of Amphitryon (Fox, Greek and Roman Mythology, 77; Tatlock, Greek and Roman Mythology, 210).Hercules’ feats of strength were legendary, and they began when he was a child. Like all the sons of Zeus, Hercules was hated by Hera. One night as Hercules slept, Hera sent two poisonous serpents to kill the child. He awoke and strangled both of the snakes (Steuding, Heroic Legend, 80; Tatlock, 213). After Hercules had married and fathered children, Hera caused a madness to come over him, and in this state, he killed his three children (Steuding, Heroic Legend, 81). To atone for this action, Hercules entered the service of Eurystheus, who imposed upon him the Twelve Labors. Hercules is also famous for the Parerga, which were incidental activities surrounding the Twelve Labors, and was also known for his military campaigns (Bullfinch, Bullfinch’s Mythology, 144; Steuding, Heroic Legend, 81).
Jesus is Truly Unique When One Looks at the Details
This hardly sounds like Jesus. Jesus’ Father is known as God; but Yahweh and Zeus could not be more different. In addition, Jesus was the son of a betrothed virgin. Therefore, He is fully God and fully man. Jesus did divine acts, yes; however–unlike Hercules–He healed, fed, cast out demons, and rose people from the dead. Therefore, it is hardly appropriate to say Jesus is like Hercules in His divine feats. Jesus also never married or fathered children. In addition, Jesus never sinned. Hercules died from poison because he fought against a centaur, and had his humanity burned away by fire. Jesus on the other hand died on a cross and rose physically from the dead three days later. Also, Jesus ascended to heaven bodily from the grave. There is no one in ancient mythology who comes close to Jesus.
Jesus Unique in Fulfilling Prophesy
Unlike any other person in history, Jesus fulfilled over three hundred ancient prophesies. Jesus is exceptionally unique. Isaiah 53 is one such example. It predicted the suffering servant would:
- Be beaten beyond human recognition (52:14). Jesus fulfilled this by his beatings and flogging (Matthew 27:26, 30).
- Despised by God’s people (Isaiah 53:3), Jesus was despised by his people (Luke 4:16-30, John 8, Matthew 27:15-23).
- Bear sin (Isaiah 53:4). Jesus took on sin without sinning (2 Corinthians 5:21).
- Be pierced and die for the sin of his people (Isaiah 53:5-6). Jesus fulfilled this in his crucifixion (Matthew 27, Luke 23:32-42).
- Not defend himself (Isaih 53:7). Jesus did not defend himself at any point before the crucifixion (Matthew 26).
- Jesus was crucified with the wicked (Isaiah 53:9a). Jesus fulfilled this by being crucified between two robbers (Matthew 27:38).
- He would be buried in a rich man’s tomb (Isaih 53:9b). Jesus was buried in rich Sanhedrin member Joseph of Arimathea (Matthew 27:57-61).
In all of these events Jesus, from a natural standpoint, could not control His death, how He died, who He would die with, and His burial. No other person in history has fulfilled prophesy to this extent.
It should also be noted Jesus fulfilled prophesy which was written hundreds of years before it happened. Conservative scholars attribute Isaiah to have been written around 700 B.C. Yet, even if one were to reject that date, there are copies of Isaiah with this prophesy dating to 125 B.C. in the Dead Sea Scrolls, over a hundred years before Jesus was crucified. Jesus is far more than just unique.
In the end, correlation between figures with vague generalities do not prove something is not unique. Andrew mentioned a ship that sounded like the Titanic in his debate; however, he was referring to a fictional ship in a novel. Correlations between facts do not mean something did not happen. Jesus is indeed unique. Jesus also proved He is the Messiah by fulfilling prophesy.
More From Striving for Eternity
If you want more information on studying the Bible and how to interpret it correctly, check out the store section at strivingforeternity.org/store. There are tons of resources to help you get started on your journey to interpreting the Bible better. Also invite Andrew Rappaport and Aaron M. Brewster to come to your church and teach you biblical interpretation with their Biblical Interpretation Made Easy Seminar. Andrew Rappaport, Aaron M. Brewster, and other guests on Apologetics live would also enjoy answering your questions on the live show on Thursdays from 7pm–9pm CST with the link to the stream yard at strivingforeternity.org/apologeticslive. Lord bless you and strive to make today and eternal day for Christ Jesus.