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Reasonable faith E-mail
Opinion
Thursday, 22 March 2018 10:32

My Perspective

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Gary Damron
Liberal

Sometimes Christians are criticized for their ‘blind faith’ in events that sound preposterous – a parting of the Red Sea, the virgin birth and resurrection of a dead man. The disciples who followed Jesus are at times thought to have been gullible or ignorant, uneducated working-class people. So, it might seem the only testimony we as Christians can give is what happened experientially to us.
There is, however, historical evidence pointing to Jesus as the Son of God. Though his public ministry began in a remote area, news soon spread of the miracles he was performing.  Soon a group of religious leaders came, saying, “‘Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.’” It wasn’t enough that the blind could see, thousands had been fed and lives changed by encounters with this man.
Jesus must have sighed, and then told them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth’” (Matthew 12:39-40). Matthew 16:21 clarifies that answer: “From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.”
Thomas wasn’t the only doubter; all the disciples struggled with the words they were hearing. After Jesus was crucified, each dealt with grief and loss in his or her own way. Then, as they encountered the resurrected Lord, and after the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, they were emboldened to proclaim the Good News.
To refute the evidence of an empty tomb, religious leaders and others have come up with several theories (which require at least as much faith as the biblical account). First, there’s the Swoon Theory – Jesus didn’t really die but was simply unconscious and the cool dark tomb revived him. There’s no word on how the stone – which required twenty men to put in place – rolled away, or why the trained soldiers outside – who would be executed if he was gone - didn’t stop him.
Another theory is that the body was stolen. But his enemies would have had no reason to take it, and among the followers of Jesus we know of only two with swords. The fact that the Pharisees promoted this story also helps dispel the idea it might be true. The Hallucination Theory is that emotional silly women perhaps thought they’d seen Jesus alive, but it was just their mind playing tricks on them. Records show, however, that more than 5,000 people over a 40-day period testified to the same thing. For decades afterward, his followers avowed that they’d seen him alive and stuck to those claims despite torture and martyrdom.
Prophecies from the Old Testament, which were fulfilled with the death and resurrection, also bear witness to their truth. A few of the 330 prophecies written hundreds of years before: Jesus would ride a donkey into Jerusalem, be betrayed by a friend and sold for thirty pieces of silver, whipped, spit upon, mocked, pierced (no such punishment existed 950 years before when these were written), darkness would envelop the daylight, and he would be buried in a rich man’s tomb. The Law of Compound Probabilities declares that the chances of just a handful of these coming true are highly unlikely, but all occurred.
The most personal reason for faith is that there’s a God who loves us. He sent Christ to show that love and give his life for us, his lost children. During this Easter season, let’s commit to helping someone who may be sincerely seeking a reasonable faith. We can ask God to strengthen and inform our faith. Then, we can work on telling our story – giving a testimony – of what God has done for us.

 

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