Leonard: Why I believe Jesus rose from the dead
Amazing books have been written on this topic … I only have 800 words. Yikes! Here we go:
At the end of the day, the core of my faith rests on my belief that Jesus came back to life from the dead and actually did what he said he was going to do: come back to life on the third day (after dying on the cross). If that didn’t happen, everyone who has placed their faith in him is to be pitied and their faith is in vain.
At least that’s what the Apostle Paul, the main writer of the New Testament in the Bible, said when he wrote in his letter to the believers in the city of Corinth: “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. And those who have died with their faith in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.”
For most of my life, my faith was in “faith” and I couldn’t really defend or explain why I believed the Bible was true or why I believed Jesus actually performed the miracles he performed. As my spiritual journey progressed, I came across some mentors and books that offered me intellectual answers rooted in history and logic that calmed my silent doubts. Here are a few of them.
When reading the Jewish Bible/Tanakh/Old Testament, we get many clues about a coming savior: where he would be born (Bethlehem), some of the things he would do (give sight to the blind and make the deaf hear), and that he would be an ancestor of Abraham and King David, to name a few. The Tanakh/Old Testament contains 60 major messianic prophecies and approximately 270 ramifications that were fulfilled in one person, Jesus the Christ. Using the science of probability, we find that chances of just 48 of these prophecies being fulfilled in one person to be 1 x 10157. When I read that stat in Josh McDowell’s book, “More Than A Carpenter,” it made my head spin. Those are odds for the gamblers in Vegas. If you’re betting against those odds, you might want to reconsider.
Jesus spent the majority of his last three years with 12 close friends. They were his boys, his posse, his squad. They witnessed his miracles, listened to him teach in their synagogues and called him their Rabbi (Jewish Priest). They left their jobs, hometowns, and even families of origin to follow him. Most importantly they believed he was the Messiah who was prophesied all throughout their scriptures.
The interesting thing is that, after Jesus was arrested, they were scared to be associated with him. Peter, one of His closest friends, denied knowing him multiple times for fear of any repercussions. If Peter was so confident Jesus was the son of God he should’ve been fearless.
But a few weeks later we see that he and the others became extremely bold in their beliefs, so much so that in the years to come they would all become martyrs (killed for their faith). Something significant must have happened. The New Testament says that after his resurrection, “He showed himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of 40 days and spoke about the kingdom of God.”
It was during this time that Thomas had heard Jesus was back but essentially said, “I won’t believe it until I see it.” A few days later, when he saw Jesus, Jesus had him touch where the nails had pierced his hands and his side and said, “Stop doubting and believe.” He was back in the synagogues, back in their boats, and back in their lives: eating with them, fishing with them, teaching them.
This emboldened them to share what they had seen, regardless of the repercussions (jail time or death). Having seen firsthand that Jesus was alive again, they had no fear. To go from being scared to being associated with him to, just a few days later, being willing to give their lives for what they believed, something out of the ordinary must have taken place.
In my next column at the end of May, I’ll continue with three more reasons I believe: The new (at that time) phenomenon of Sunday worship, a highly-guarded yet empty tomb, and the Apostle Paul’s radically changed life. How do you go from being the staunchest opponent of a growing religion to the point of breathing threats of murder and imprisonment on them, to being their No. 1 spokesman in a matter of days? Stay tuned.
For more on this, I’d encourage you to watch the movie, “The Case for Christ,” or to pick up the book, “More Than A Carpenter.”
Scott Leonard is the area director for Search Vail Valley. You can reach him at email@example.com.