Every year about 10 million people visit the Snowdonia National Park in North Wales. Some climb one or more of the 90 mountain peaks, and many climb or walk up Mount Snowdon itself, whose peak is the highest point in England and Wales at 1,085m (3,560 feet). However, many visitors just enjoy a leisurely stroll in the beautiful surroundings. One place many visitors end up in is the village of Beddgelert. Here they probably walk from the middle of the village to see the grave of the brave dog called Gelert. Reading the inscription at the grave they find the sad story of the dog that bravely killed a wolf attacking the baby of Llywelyn the Great (1172 –1240), the local prince. However, when the prince returned home, he found the baby missing, and thought that the dog – now with a blood-stained mouth - had killed the baby: he quickly drew his sword and killed the dog. Of course he eventually found the baby safe and well, and also discovered the dead body of the wolf. He buried the dog with great ceremony.
The visitor might be stirred by the story, as were many poets who later told the story in verse, and it even moved Joseph Haydn to set the story to music. However, the fine story turns out to have no real historical basis. The burial mound was constructed in the 1790s by a local enterprising hotel manager, David Prichard, to attract tourists, and even the name of the village – Beddgelert – which could mean ‘Gelert’s grave’, was actually named after a Christian missionary in Wales in the 8th century called Celert. Further investigation shows that this kind of story is found in various forms in many countries around the world, including India and Malaysia.
On the other hand, the historical evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ is very strong, with plenty of contemporary evidence apart from the four gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Writers in the first century such as the famous Jewish historian Flavius Josephus and the Roman writer Tacitus include references to Jesus in their writings. Few serious historians today doubt that such a person lived, even if they do not believe in Him.
We have a very good summary of the life of Jesus from the apostle Peter, who is reported in the Acts of the Apostles as saying: ‘God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. And we [apostles] are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they [the Jewish leaders] slew and hanged on a tree [i.e., a cross]: Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead’, Acts 10. 38 – 42.
Peter then also pointed out, v. 43, that: ‘To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins’. So all the Old Testament prophets predicted Jesus would come and, even very importantly, the consequence of people believing in Him is that they receive the forgiveness of their sins.
Knowing that there was an historic person called Jesus Christ is not an end in itself. Even if a person is given indisputable evidence that He existed, it doesn’t mean that that person will automatically believe in Him. However, none of us can say that Jesus has nothing to do with us, for the Bible says that ‘the man Christ Jesus . . . gave himself a ransom for all’, 1 Tim. 2. 5 & 6.
There is hymn verse that sums it all up very well:
He died that we might be forgiven,
He died to make us good,
That we might go at last to heaven,
Saved by his precious blood.
Written by a Guest Blogger for Seek the Truth Bible Media. For more blogs, podcast, videos etc visit www.seekthetruth.org.uk