Sometimes people look at me like I’ve got lobsters coming out of my ears.
I’ve become familiar with this look. It precedes them unfriending me on Facebook and uninviting me from the party with their “not-nuts” friends.
I see this look right around the time they realize I actually believe that all that stuff in the Bible is true.
- Yes, this God I can’t see created the entire universe. (The alternative, that it “just happened”, is, by the way, ridiculously dependent on faith… just saying)
- Yes, Jonah was swallowed by a big something (whale, fish, whatever) and spit out later.
- Yes, I believe Jesus was not just a nice guy, but the Son of God. He said so. (Here, Here, Here and Here, just to name a few) These are the kinds of things that made people try to throw Jesus off a cliff. They eventually murdered him for what he said.
So I believe all this stuff actually happened. And I don’t just “believe” like I “believe” that the Buffalo Bills could, in theory, win a Super Bowl. I’m not just wishing it to be true. I think it is. I know it is. Factually. Scientifically.
Does that make me some kind of lunatic? Should someone call DSS to prevent me from further indoctrinating my children with this insanity?
Or is there something to it?
You can funnel the entire argument of whether the Bible is true down to the life and ministry of its’ central character, Jesus.
Jesus’ short life and ministry changed the course of history.
The events of this man’s life were so significant that our calendars date back (roughly) to his birth.
- But did Jesus really live?
- Did Jesus really do the things the Bible claims?
- Did Jesus actually rise from the dead?
Before I make decisions today that are based on those events long ago, I need to know a few things. I bet you do too.
The good news is that there’s plenty to know.
The New Testament is far and away the most well-documented text in ancient literature. Smarter people than me have done lifetimes of work documenting this. (Watch these videos)
The bulk of the New Testament was on paper (ok, parchment) well within the lifetimes of eye witnesses to the actual events that took place. That means that if it was completely unfounded it would have been written off as tabloids rather than proliferated throughout the entire known world.
The men who wrote it down paid for their beliefs dearly. They did not author it as a fictional account. Many were murdered for the very words they penned, but they did not recant.
Luke, the doctor, who had an eye for detail, opened his Gospel account with these words:
Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught. (Luke 1:1-4)
Doesn’t sound like the opening of a fairy tale.
More compelling to me, though, is the testimony of those closest to Jesus.
John, Jesus’ best friend, personally witnessed his life, death and resurrection.
He stamped his writings with this statement:
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. (1 John 1:2)
Hmm… “heard” “seen” “looked at” “touched”… doesn’t sound like vague ramblings to me.
- John walked with Jesus.
- John ascended the mountain with Jesus, witnessing the Transfiguration. (Matthew 17)
- John leaned back against Jesus at the Last Supper. (John 13)
- John was given responsibility for caring for Jesus‘ mother after the crucifixion. (John 19)
What would it have been like to share a meal with your Savior? To watch Him interact with others? To hear Him call your name?
John tells us at the conclusion of his account of Jesus’ life:
Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. (John 21:25 NIV)
So the written testimony we have about Jesus is just a fraction, a representation, of the whole of what He did.
Jesus’ followers, His disciples, left everything to follow an uneducated man from an obscure town. They faced persecution, even martyrdom, for what they claimed to be true. Yet they didn’t fall away. Their relationship with God so radically transformed them that they could not allow this burning message to die with them.
Two thousand years later, God is still writing His story of redemption through Jesus.
The story continues in and through you.
Jesus, pointing ahead to his bodily departure from Earth, told his disciples:
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. (John 14:12)
These verses unsettle me.
- We will “do the works” Jesus did?
- We will “do even greater things than these”?
- “Who? Me? You?”
Hard to believe. Yet my Jesus says it’s true. So it must be.
The question now becomes,
“Will we allow Him to work in and through me? Or will I hold back?”
Jesus + Facts + Faith + You = ?
What kind of story is Jesus writing with your life?
I’d love to hear about the story God is writing through you.