When you go back 2000 years looking for proof you have to go to the earliest known accounts and work forward. The earliest historical documents of the life of Jesus are found in the gospels. As far as can be ascertained, Mark was written some time around 70 AD, Matthew and Luke around 80 AD and John between 90-100 AD although dating John is more difficult. Since those are all Biblical references, you may want to throw them aside, but then you have to deal with the Jewish historian, Josephus who lived between 37-100 and the Roman historian, Tacitus who lived between 56-120.
Those are all pretty early records when you consider that the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus happened around 33 AD and Mark was writing about it 40 years later, you're talking about first hand, eye witness, accounts. That's pretty reliable information. When you think about it, the writers of the gospel actually sat down to write out an account because they realized that between age and persecution, the number of people who could provide first hand knowledge were diminishing and it was necessary to get it in writing.
In fact, Luke actually states his purpose in writing his account in Luke 1:1-4
"Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,
Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;
It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,
That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed."
It's nice that we have several different records of the life of Jesus so that we get a more rounded view of what happened. In each of the gospels we can see a different focus, yet these things are consistent, Jesus did come as a human being. He did perform many miracles, healing many, calming the sea, feeding thousands with a few loaves and fish and bringing the dead back to life. He was crucified. He was buried. He rose again.
Maybe you don't think He died. Maybe you think it was just an elaborate trick. Maybe you think someone else died on the cross. Maybe you think his disciples took his body and hid it. The problem is, that those theories just don't work. They don't fit with historical FACTS. Whatever idea you propose, it just won't match up with what really happened.
Jesus had a very public execution. It was witnessed not only by his disciples but also by the many Jews who came to Jerusalem for Passover. Here's something you may not know, there are several times, feast days, during the year that all Jews were required to appear before God, that is, at the temple in Jerusalem. Passover is one of them, and 50 days later is Pentecost, with the final one being Sukkot.
His death wasn't accomplished quietly in a dark little corner, it happened right outside the city gates where any one, of the thousands coming for Passover, entering the city could see. He died. He was buried and because of the envy of the Jewish leaders the tomb was secured with a big rock and guards were posted outside. So he definitely died, and he definitely was buried. All of which happened in front of the huge numbers of visitors to Jerusalem.
Then He rose again and was seen by his disciples. Now a lot of people have the mistaken belief that Jesus had only 12 followers, but that would be wrong.
In Luke 9:1,2 we read,
"Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases.
And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick."
Then in Luke 9:6 "And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing every where."
But later in Luke 10:1 MORE were sent out with the same results.
"After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. "
Luke 10:17 "And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name."
So, not 12 disciples, 70 disciples.
Still not persuaded? The eye witness accounts that we have is that people close to Him saw Him, touched His body, Put their hands into the holes in His body. Not only were there nail prints from where He was nailed to the cross, one of the soldiers stabbed Him in the side and it was reported that blood and water came out. Blood and water, means that at the time His blood had already started to separate so He was truly dead. And later were he rose from the dead, He invited His disciples to put their hand into the hole in His side made by the spear. He was really dead and He really came back to life. He was seen by various people (about 500) at various times for 40 days after His resurrection.
He was not only resurrected but after He told them to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Holy Spirit, He rose up into the clouds. 120 of these eye witnesses were in Jerusalem waiting for that promise. On the day of Pentecost, (another feast day with thousands of visitors in the city) fifty days after the resurrection, the Holy Spirit came as promised. The supernatural events that happened then, convinced 3000 people to believe in Jesus. Shortly after that, when Peter and John were entering the Temple they saw a lame beggar who had been lame from birth outside and by the power of Jesus, they healed him so that he went walking and leaping into the temple praising God and 5000 MORE people believed. At this point, the believers were no longer numbered but just called multitudes. The rapid increase of believing people scared the political leaders and they began to persecute them. Under threat of torture and death these people wouldn't give up their belief.
Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:3-6
"For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:
After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep."
500 eye witnesses saw Jesus after he rose from the dead. Paul points out that you don't have to take his word for it, there are 500 people who saw Jesus alive again that you can go and talk to them. They believed and they were convinced enough to die for their belief.
Do you think they would be willing to suffer like that for a lie? Would they be willing to die for a lie? No, of course not. The greatest evidence that Jesus death burial and resurrection is true, is that the early Christian church was willing to die for what they believed. All of the original 12 except John were martyred for what they believed. Why were they willing to die? Because it's true. Jesus is alive and changing people's lives just as much now as he was over 2000 years ago.
Not convinced? There have been more than 25,000 archaeological digs concerning the Bible and not a single one has contradicted anything in the Bible. The archaeological digs have confirmed and affirmed the things that we read in the Bible. It's front page news all around the world when someone tries to to undermine the proof of the Bible, yet when they find that their proof wasn't authentic, nobody hears about it.
There are people who claim to be intelligent that state that the Bible is not reliable because it has been copied so many times and translated so many times. But let's do a comparison of documents of antiquity. Obviously anything on a fragile medium like parchment will eventually have to be copied. For the New Testament we have documents that date back as far as AD 100 to AD 120, within a couple of decades of the completion of the New Testament. We have more than 6000 manuscripts of the New Testament. That's a huge number for anything so ancient.
Just to put it in perspective, with Aristotle's Poetics we have less than 12 manuscripts and the earliest one is over 1000 years after the writing, not 100 years like the new testament. For Julius Caesar's Gallic Wars we have less than 12 manuscripts and the earliest one is over 1000 years after the writing. The best example is Homer's Illiad where we have a few 100 manuscripts and the earliest manuscript was written 2200 years after the original. How many New Testament manuscripts are there again? Not a dozen, not a hundred, but 6000!
See the difference? These secular documents are copies that are thousands of years after the original, not a mere 100 and we have just a tiny handful of them, not the thousands of manuscripts that we have for the Bible.
Some people believe that the original texts were reliable, but that they were corrupted. Maybe they think that the monks in the time of Constantine (who died in 337 AD) changed the manuscripts to conform to Constantine's agenda. You want to know why that idea is nonsense? They would have to go and find 6000 Greek manuscripts scattered all over the then know world, change them all in the -exact same way- and not tell anyone what they did! See how stupid that idea is?
Still not convinced? In the first couple of centuries the New Testament was translated from Greek into Syriac, Coptic, and Latin. These nefarious and fictitious monks would have to lie about what they found in 4 different languages: Syriac, Coptic, Latin, and Greek because if they didn't, then the manuscripts wouldn't match, and they would be in big trouble.
You know what makes that theory even more ridiculous? The early church fathers had a habit of commenting on things in the New Testament, so much so, that we would be able to reproduce the -entire contents- of the New Testament, all but 11 verses, just from their commentaries. So in addition to 1) finding all 6000 manuscripts, 2) Changing all 6000 manuscripts in EXACTLY the same way, in Syriac, Coptic, Latin, and Greek, 3) Then finding and changing all of the commentaries in Syriac, Coptic, Latin, and Greek, in EXACTLY the same way. Oh, and while they're at it, don't tell anyone.
Only the fool would NOT believe the New Testament. The intelligent person will state that they choose to believe the Bible because it's a reliable collection of historical documents written by eye witnesses during the lifetime of other eye witnesses who reported supernatural events that took place in fulfillment of specific prophecies and claim that their writings are divine rather than human in origin.
So, are you an intelligent person? If you are, then you need to seriously consider that what the Bible says about Jesus is true. He did live as a human being. He did die. His blood was shed so that whosoever, and that means you, can believe and believing, you can have eternal life in heaven with Jesus. Want to know how?
Here it is, straight from the Bible itself:
Romans 3:23 "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;"
Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Romans 5:8 "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
We've all blown it at one time or another, if you think you haven't, you're just fooling yourself. The consequences of sinning, even just one time, is death. BUT, Jesus took the penalty of death for us. Believe it!
and live! The promises that God made to people who believe in Him are immeasurable. First of all, death is taken off the table. Yes, you will at some time experience a physical death, but just like Jesus you will be resurrected so death isn't something to be afraid of any longer. Take a look at what it says in John 14:12-19
And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
If ye love me, keep my commandments.
And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.
Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also."
It's a pretty good deal. God Himself, loves you and will take an intimate interest in your life. Got a mess that needs straightening out? a marriage that's on the rocks? an addiction you can't beat? a sickness that's got you down? a depression you can't overcome? Whatever it is, He has the power to change it. He has the love to care. And He has the will to make your life new. Just ask Him. Go ahead, He's been waiting for you.