I’ve been sorting through some of the foundations of my faith, identifying them and putting them into words. Writing always helps me get a handle on things, and if one is going to stake her life to a belief, I think she ought to have a pretty good handle on it. So I’m in the process of some internal spring cleaning, sorting and proving and tucking back away.
One of the basic tenets of my faith is that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Why? Well, first of all, because he said his is! Do I believe everyone who makes that claim? Of course not. So why do I believe this one? I guess you have to look at the whole package.
Jesus Christ made it abundantly clear who He thought He was. Read through the book of John and you’ll see what I mean. He believed He was the Messiah sent by God to provide atonement for the sin of mankind. That’s a pretty huge claim. And there are only three logical responses to it. Either Christ was a liar, or He was crazy, or He was who He said He was.
If you read the rest of the gospels, you’ll see right away that the first option just doesn’t jive. Christ preached against lying and for a moral lifestyle based on God’s law. It makes no sense that He would lie. Nor would he sacrifice His life for a lie. And you can’t argue that He was simply killed. He didn’t have to enter Jerusalem where it was widely known the religious establishment was plotting against Him. But He did. He could have made a very good case for Himself before Pilate, but He didn’t. He chose to die. Would a man die for a lie? That’s ridiculous.
So could He have been crazy? A crazy man might die for believing a falsehood. But that doesn’t make sense either. Jesus profoundly influenced the world with his teaching and his life. His ideas are succinct, wise, and highly regarded universally. Is this in keeping with an unsound mind? Did his actions at all imply imbalance? I just don’t buy it.
That leaves only one option. Jesus Christ was who He said He was.
Eleven Good Reasons
A second reason I believe Jesus is the Son of God is the change that occurred in His followers. Jesus chose twelve young men to be his disciples, and you have to admit they weren’t too impressive. When Jesus was teaching, they always seemed to miss the mark. They argued among themselves. They asked ridiculous questions. And they turned out to be real cowards when Christ was arrested.
But after Christ’s death, that all changed. These men, with the exception of Judas, became vocal proponents for Christ’s message. They took on the Jewish leaders. They traveled to foreign lands. They won converts, started churches, bucked established pagan religions, endured jail time, suffered beatings, and according to tradition, all of them but John died for their faith.
These guys firmly believed Christ’s message. Something substantial made them change. But what? How’d they go from coward to martyr?
The eleven remaining disciples were witness to the most astonishing event in history, Christ’s resurrection. It’s the number one reason I believe Jesus is the Son of God. It changes everything. It verifies Christ’s claim, and it forms the substance of the Christian religion. In it are tied up faith, love, forgiveness, atonement, and hope through this conquering of death. But it’s so crazy! So unprecedented! So unnatural! Can it really be true?
Would the cowardly disciples give their lives if it wasn’t?
But aside from the change in these witnesses, there are other things that convince me that, no, the Resurrection was not a hoax. Since Jesus had said ahead of time that he would rise from the dead, the Jewish religious leaders took precautions. They wanted to nip that idea in the bud. They wanted Christ’s body firmly in the ground as proof that he was a counterfeit, so they asked for Roman soldiers to guard the tomb.
These soldiers were the most well-trained, effective army in the world. They were career soldiers, hardened men who didn’t flinch in battle. No one was getting by them. Yet something happened. They scattered. They ran away frightened. What could cause this but a supernatural event? Even an unlikely overpowering force of men wouldn’t send them scurrying but would cause a battle there’d be some record of. They simply scattered. Why?
And where was the body? If it was a hoax, wouldn’t the Jewish leaders move heaven and earth to lay hold of the body and squash rumors of a resurrection? But they couldn’t produce it.
And what about the hundreds of recorded witnesses who also claimed to see the risen Christ? Could this all be false? Is it all a hoax? If so, it’s the most elaborate, perfect one in the history of men. But I don’t think it’s a hoax at all. I think the Resurrection is the pivotal moment in which God displayed His power. It’s the centerpiece of a cohesive, premeditated plan. I think Jesus really was who He said He was.
I willingly admit much of my material today was taken from Josh McDowell’s book, More Than a Carpenter. I read it many years ago, but I did not reread it before writing this post. I wanted to take stock of the ideas and reasons I’ve assimilated as my own. I plan to reread it now, and I highly recommend it for anyone who wants more information on this subject. It has so much more content than my little post.