Some of the people I have the most compassion on are atheists and agnostics. For those who aren’t familiar with those terms, atheists believe there is no God while agnostics are unsure whether God exists or does not. I have compassion for these folks for two main reasons:
The first is they are living life without a relationship with the one who created them. This is living outside of their purpose and will leave them unfulfilled in this life and then having to face drastic eternal consequences after their death.
The second reason I have so much compassion is because of the sheer volume of evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. Many of these folks have never heard of this evidence, which is heartbreaking. Anyone who has been trained where to look for evidence of the resurrection of Jesus typically finds the very compelling!
In this article, I want to tell a bit of my story about why I believe in Jesus and hope it encourages others to pursue truth. I have no judgments for those who don’t believe because we are all on a journey and if it wasn’t for God’s grace I wouldn’t believe either. My hope is this article is the grace of God manifesting itself for some people so they too can believe.
I grew up in a Christian home and remember hearing about Jesus from my Mom when I was 6 years old. Like most children, I implicitly trusted my Mom and believed what she told me about Jesus. Over the next few years, though, questions would pop into my head such as “who created God?” and “How could God always exist from the beginning?” These thoughts planted seeds of doubt in my heart and mind. The scientific community said we were created by a big bang and they had a lot of data that supported their claims. As I got older wondered if there really wasn’t a God and if this whole Christianity thing was made up.
A few years later, when I was 12, I saw a paralyzed woman supernaturally healed and get out of a wheelchair during a church service. It was the type of thing I’d read about in the Bible. As soon as I saw that, any nagging thoughts I had about the existence of a god or supernatural force in the invisible realm disappeared. I knew at that time there was something supernatural that healed the woman. I thought it might be the God of the Bible, but I wasn’t 100% sure. Interestingly enough, I still had a lot of hard questions about Christianity in the presence of the miracle. I thought, how do I know that it was the God of the Bible that healed this woman? Maybe it was a mystical force or maybe it was a god of a different faith than Christianity that healed her.
Over the next few years I wrestled with these questions. I had seen stuff in the church world I didn’t necessarily like or understand, but I couldn’t let go of the miracle I saw. It was legit! I knew the Bible taught of heaven and hell and I didn’t want to go to hell when I died so I made a decision to finally study and figure out if the God of the Bible was the God who healed that woman. I knew enough of the Bible to know that it claimed the God of Christianity was the one true God so if He was real, I could rule out all other gods and all other faiths. I went into my research with a very open mind. Even though I was a Christian, I wanted to challenge all my assumptions so I could know if the Christian faith really was the truth. I was prepared to believe whatever truth I found.
As I began my research I realized the centerpiece of Christianity was the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. In my mind, if that was true, the rest of the Bible and everything else it says about God must be true. It seemed to be all the questions that the scientific community raised about the age of the earth, fossil records, whether Noah’s ark was real, and so on wouldn’t invalidate Christianity if Jesus was a real person who raised from the dead. I wasn’t dismissing those questions as unimportant or unworthy of research, they just seemed secondary to the most essential question:
Was Jesus raised from the dead and if so, what is the evidence?
Secular (non-Christian) historians verify the fact that Jesus lived, was crucified publicly, and 3 days later his tomb was empty. Two of the most famous are a Roman historian named Tacitus and a Jewish historian named Josephus. It’s important to note that both the Romans and Jews opposed Christianity, yet their historians still recorded that Jesus lived, was a major spiritual influence, had a large following, was arrested, publicly executed, and that three days later his tomb was empty. This is something we all must consider when debate the existence of the God of the Bible.
The empty tomb. Matthew 27:62-66 discusses a conversation between the Pharisees and Pilate. The Pharisees asked Pilate to ensure the tomb was guarded so the disciples couldn’t steal Jesus’s body away and claim he resurrected. THE PHARISEES (Jesus’s opponents) stated Jesus claimed he would resurrect after three days. Matthew 28:11-15 tells of how the Roman soldiers who were guarding the tomb came to Jerusalem and told Jewish elders how an earthquake had happened and the stone that sealed the tomb was removed. It’s important to realize the Roman soldiers had no incentive to make up a story like this because legally they could be executed for allowing a prisoner to escape. In the verses listed above we see the two major enemies of Jesus admitting that Jesus said he would raise from dead and plotting to make sure his body wasn’t stolen away, and then admitting his tomb was empty. If we have honest hearts we must ask why?
The disciples’ claims. It’s important to remember all 11 of Jesus’s remaining disciples (Judas killed himself) fled the scene after Jesus was arrested because they were afraid. Peter ended up denying Jesus 3 times to a young girl. Prior to discovering the tomb was empty they hid out fearing for their lives. What happened to cause these men to go from fearfully hiding out to boldly proclaiming the claim of the resurrection and being willing to die for this claim? Some say they were delusional. I will admit it possible for one or two of them to have been delusional, but not for 11. That’ statistically impossible. And 10 of those 11 ended up dying as martyrs while John was boiled in oil. Why? They claimed to have seen the resurrected Jesus.
500 other people claim Jesus appeared to them after the resurrection. According to 1 Corinthians 15:4-7, Paul claimed that Jesus appeared to 500 people after the resurrection. He then went on to say that most of them were still living. Why? Because he was encouraging the people who questioned what he was saying to go talk to the other people who saw the resurrected Jesus! This isn’t something a person who doesn’t believe what they are claiming does. He’s encouraging others to go examine the evidence for themselves.
Jesus fulfilled over 300 Old Testament prophecies. For one person to fulfill 8 of the prophecies about the Messiah it is statistically a 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000 chance. For one person to fulfill over 300…..You get my point; it’s impossible. One of those prophecies included death by crucifixion which hadn’t even been invented at the time the prophecy was originally made.
This is just some of the evidence the Lord used to verify to me that God is real and that Jesus is his son many years ago. There is much more we could explore, but I’d have to write a book instead of a short article. I still have questions I don’t have answers for, but I believe its paramount on all of us to never let the things we have questions about to invalidate the things we clearly understand.
For me, it’s pretty clear that Jesus was the Son of God who died in my place on a cross, and was raised from the dead. I hope everyone reading this will consider the evidence. Don’t just take my word for it, study these things out for yourself and follow wherever the evidence leads. You owe it to yourself! There is a reason you exist and you’ll never be fulfilled until you discover what that reason is. I love you and I’m praying for you! If you’d like to learn more, check out this message I taught at Grace Life Church called “Love Reigns.”