Some people become a christian through a spiritual feeling or an overwhelming sense of God’s love . Others are drawn to the faith by dramatic experiences or dreams. Many Christians read the Bible as children at home or in church. But there is usually a defining moment when a person chooses to follow Christianity for themselves. Although most Christians that I know have come to faith because of feelings and experiences, some found find faith because of studying the evidence.
Friends often say to me ‘people believed until science disproved it’ or ‘there’s no evidence for Christianity’. I will argue that Jesus’ death and resurrection cannot be disproved and that there is evidence. I know people who were curious and studied the evidence until they concluded that Jesus was real and did rise from the dead.
These are my main points:
- Jesus’ body was absent from the guarded tomb. The Jews would not remove it as they opposed Christianity, and this would make it look as if Jesus was really the son of God. The disciples would surely not remove it and engage in a lie.
- Hundreds of people saw Jesus die on a cross and 500 people saw him speak days later.
- Jesus was a real historical figure and therefore he was either the son of God, or he was delusional.
The historical information concerning Jesus always includes the fact that Jesus’ body was absent from the tomb that he was buried in following his resurrection. D.H. Van Daalen said, “It is extremely difficult to object to the empty tomb on historical grounds; those who deny it do so on the basis of theological or philosophical assumptions”. It has been recorded that the Jewish leaders admitted that the tomb was found empty, despite it being enclosed with a stone too heavy to move alone and accompanied by a guard. The Jewish leaders condemned Jesus to death because he threatened their power and religious views. Therefore, it is unlikely that they would lie about this, as this fact is critical to proving that Jesus escaped death.
Furthermore, the only other motive to remove the body would be to make it look as if Jesus had escaped death. This points to the disciples. If they had to remove the body to make it look as if Jesus was the son of God because it was a lie, why would they allow themselves and their families to be beaten and murdered for something they knew was a lie?
Hundreds of people saw Jesus being crucified. Fact. Jesus was a real historical figure. There is as much evidence for the realness of Jesus as there is for the realness of Caesar. It is a historical account that Jesus was crucified until death. Again, it is a historical fact that he appeared days later alive to ‘more than five hundred brethren at one time’ (Perman, 2007). In addition, Christianity blossomed into a dominant religion. Many people argue that others claimed to be the Messiah, the living son of God as prophesied in the Old Testament, and therefore the disciples could have re-enacted and copied those attempts. Perman (2007) answers this: ‘In reality, serious scholars have almost universally rejected this theory since WWII, for several reasons. First, it has been shown that these mystery religious had no major influence in Palestine in the 1st century’. Thus, Jesus must have been pretty convincing to have started such a popular religion, adding truthfulness and reliability to these documents.
Every writer of the four gospels is resolute that Jesus died and rose again. This belief was not a figment of their imagination. They either wrote from first-hand information or eyewitness accounts (see Luke 1:1-3, John 19:35). If you’ve ever played Chinese whispers, you’ll remember that the real word of the game is distorted as it moves from player to player. According to William Foxwell Albright, one of the world’s leading biblical archaeologists, ‘ there is no longer any solid basis for dating any book of the New Testament after about A.D. 80, two full generations before the date between 130 and 150 given by the more radical New Testament critics of today’. Scholarly research suggests that the New Testament was written within the lifetime of those who witnessed the life and death of Jesus.
Finally, I would like to be make the point that if Jesus was a real historical figure then he was either the son of God or he was delusional. If you knew that you were not really the son of God, surely you would give it up when you were threatened with crucifixion, whipping, public humiliation and the torture and killing of your friends? Most people would not lie for this. They would have had to be delusional to truly believe that they were the son of God and allow such things to happen to themselves and their loved ones. However, if Jesus was mad, it is very impressive and surprising that a lunatic could gather so many follows and influence so many people.
Jesus, thankyou for dying on the cross. I pray that people experience your life-changing love this Easter and beyond. Amen.
By Ella Johnson