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Looking for the evidence

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Our society has developed an extreme culture of skepticism. But with easy access to the information highway and seemingly endless evidence at our fingertips, who can blame anybody for not accepting information at face value? Being completely honest, though, it would be nice if the University of Kentucky's basketball program wasn't constantly being investigated. Ah...to be the best. Anyway, between Wikipedia, Google, and even Facebook, pretty much anything you want to search for can be in front of you in seconds. History, business, religion, sports, comic books, movie trivia...no stone is left unturned. Should we be surprised, then, that people (particularly adults) seek hard evidence when we share the gospel of Christ with them? That doesn't seem unreasonable. After all, it seems that evidence would go a long way to help someone grow in their faith.

A Case for Christ by Lee Strobel documents an investigator's journey to finding his own faith. An atheist at the time, Strobel goes out seeking to disprove the claims of the New Testament that Jesus is the Christ that Christians believe him to be. He talks to medical professionals about the crucifixion, historians about the accuracy of the stories, and religious scholars about how in-line Jesus is with the Old Testament prophecies. In the attached video, you can see Mr. Strobel describing those last few minutes of this particular journey. However, I want to focus on one particular piece of evidence...the behavior of the disciples.

According to the historians interviews by Strobel, there are stories in the gospels that are considered fact due to the amount of witnesses, the number of corroborated accounts, and the timeliness in which they were recorded. Among these factual stories are that of the arrest, trials, and crucifixion of the historical Jesus of Nazareth. In these stories, what do we see from the disciples? Are they there fighting for Jesus' release and standing up for the man they have been following for years? No, they are hiding, lying, and trying to save their own behinds. We see Peter, Jesus' second in command, the "rock" on which the church would be (and ultimately was) built, deny knowing Jesus on three different occasions. We see nobody testifying on Jesus' behalf to Pilate or Herod. We don't see a single disciple trying to help Jesus evade his inevitable death on the cross (there was a struggle when Jesus was arrested, but that was it). During this time, Christ's eleven closest followers appeared to be defeated, broken, and scared.

Now, let's fast forward a few days. Jesus has been killed, the disciples are huddled up outside of town, and everything they had learned and done over the past few years seemed to mean nothing. That brings us to our next historical fact: people claimed to see Jesus walking around after he had been killed. According to the historians quoted in A Case for Christ, there were more people who claimed to have seen a risen Christ than there were witnesses in other cases that are considered fact. Regardless, it is considered fact that people claimed to have seen Him.

After that, what did the disciples do? After they claimed to have spent several weeks with a risen Jesus, they went into Jerusalem telling everyone about the resurrection and the eternal life that could be found in repentance. They dedicated all of their time to sharing their faith. They risked their lives every day to tell others what Jesus meant to them.

Think about it. The disciples were ready to follow Jesus anywhere. Then when he was arrested and ultimately killed, they went into hiding fearing for their lives. They denied Christ to save their own skins. The next thing you know, they are risking their lives again...and even more so considering Jesus wasn't there to guide and protect them. So what changed? What caused them to do a 180 and turn back toward the ministry? The only thing that makes sense is that they actually saw a resurrected Jesus. There is no way a simple dream, vision, or made up story could cause them to give their everything to the ministry, risking their lives and living on the run. They must have seen a resurrected Jesus. Many of them were arrested, beaten, flogged, and persecuted on numerous occasions and kept on preaching. They must have seen a resurrected Jesus. Several of them were killed, and that pushed the others to shout the name of Christ even louder. They must have seen a resurrected Jesus. What more evidence do you need? Think about it.

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