Josephus relates that 1.1 million Jews were killed in AD 70 with the destruction of the Temple. I’ve spilled a lot of ink showing that Josephus cannot and should not be trusted with numbers or dates (and that’s why we should believe that Jesus was born on Dec 25 1 BC as I explain in this book).
Scholars suggest that about 1 million people lived in the Holy Land during the time of Jesus. For perspective, one million people is the population of the state of Rhode Island at 1 million people.
Houston Texas has about 2.2 million people. So when Jesus was walking around Galilee, Samaria, and Judea, he was engaging with a population less than half of Houston, Texas.
Here’s something else to consider about the impact of Jesus on the population:
Jesus fed 5,000 and 4,000 people on two separate occasions. Assuming that they these two groups did not overlap, that means that Jesus personally fed about 1% of the population of the Holy Land (9,000 / 1,000,000). 1 out 100 people had been fed miraculously by Jesus Christ. If you add in Christ’s travel, preaching, and teaching it’s not far off to estimate that 10% of the populace had seen or heard Jesus in person.
That’s a low estimate since we know that Jesus was preaching and teaching at least annually in Jerusalem when most people were assembled there in the city for Passover. So it could be that as much as 25-50% of people living in the Holy Land had heard or witnessed Jesus Christ. This is why Peter on Pentecost AD 33 speaks to the crowd there about “Jesus” and they know who he is talking about.
To use an analogy, how many people living in Houston know of the local preacher Joel Osteen? All of them. And this is why the High Priest and Sanhedrin wanted to kill Jesus so badly. Jesus was a big deal. Everyone knew him or knew of him.
This should change how we understand both the historicity of Jesus but also impact of Jesus ministry.
If Jesus Christ could touch so many lives in three years, shouldn’t we be able to touch so many now with the power of literacy, digital communication, and social media?
Question: What is lacking in modern Christianity that makes it so easily dismissed? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
PS: To learn more about Catholic History and the birth date and death date of Jesus Christ, check out my book The Eternal City.