Core Christian Beliefs

Is faith in Jesus a big leap?

Paul E. Little, via EveryStudent.com

Similarly when faced with claims about Jesus, many of us think they’re a stretch, a giant leap of faith.

But what if I told you that faith in Jesus and his resurrection (coming back to life) is not only credible, but extremely reasonable. You’d say, “Of course, you’re supposed to say this, this is a Christian website.”

And you’d be right.

But does that mean I’m wrong?

Who was Jesus?

Jesus’ identity was the focal point of His teaching.

Let’s look at Jesus on trial for his life:

Jesus stands before the religious elite of his day and they ask him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?”

“I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. “You have heard the blasphemy” (Mark 14:61-64).

The ancient exchange is clear; they wanted the death penalty for Jesus’ outrageous claim that he was God.

Here’s a few more of Jesus’ crazy claims for which he was killed:

  • Know Jesus to know God (John 8:19;14:7).
  • See Jesus to see God (John 12:45; 14:9).
  • Believe Jesus to believe in God (12:44; 14:1).
  • Receive Jesus to receive God (Mark 9:37).
  • Hate Jesus to hate God (John 15:23).
  • Honor Jesus to honor God (5:23).

Liar, Lunatic, Legend or Lord

As we face these claims, there are only four possibilities. Jesus was either a liar, a lunatic, a legend, or - who he said he was - the Lord.

Liar: Jesus could have lied when he claimed to be God. If so, he’d hardly be a great moral teacher.

Lunatic: Jesus could have been self-deceived, a mad-man. But his life shows no evidence of mental imbalance.

Legend: Perhaps Jesus followers made up Jesus’ claims to be God is a legend. You’ll hear this often in popular culture.

Maybe Jesus’ followers invented the whole idea of him being God.

Yet archeological records have lead scholars to conclude that the Gospels were written well before the end of the first century.

Why is this significant? Tens of thousands of people who had seen Jesus and heard his teachings were still alive.

If it were simply a legend, just one of these eyewitnesses could have invalidated it.

A modern parallel would be a book claiming that John F Kennedy said he was God. No one would believe it, and there are people alive today who would say, “I knew him, and he never made that claim.”

With Jesus, scholars cannot find one record of an eyewitnesses refuting the historical veracity of the Gospels.

Lord: That leaves one alternative—Jesus’ claim to be God was true.

So Jesus claimed to be God, so what?

The apostle Paul said if Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead, then our faith is pointless. (1 Corinthians 15:14).

Every disciple was killed (save one who was exiled) because of his conviction that Jesus rose from the dead proving he was God..

At any point prior to his execution, any disciple could have recanted.

Not one did.

What if Jesus didn’t die, but fainted?

Jesus’ death was by public execution on a cross.

The government said it was for blasphemy.

Jesus said it was to pay for our sin.

Severely tortured, Jesus’ wrists and feet were nailed to a cross where He hung, eventually dying of slow suffocation.

A spear was thrust into His side to confirm His death.

His body was wrapped in linens covered with approximately 100 pounds of gummy-wet spices, then placed in a solid rock tomb.

A 1 1/2- 2 ton boulder was rolled by levers to secure the entrance. Because Jesus had publicly said He would rise from the dead in three days, a guard of trained Roman soldiers was stationed at the tomb. An official Roman seal was affixed to the entrance, declaring it government property.

Yet three days later the body was gone. Only the grave linens remained, in the form of the body, but caved in. The boulder formerly sealing the tomb was found up a slope, some distance away.

The swoon theory is the most recent theory against Jesus’ resurrection.

Let’s run with it for a moment. Jesus passes out and is buried alive. He wakes up. Here’s what he’d have to do next:

  1. Endure three days in a damp tomb without food or water. Do this after being scourged, crucified, and stabbed.
  2. Extricate himself from his grave-clothes and push a giant stone away from the tomb’s mouth.
  3. Overcome Roman guards.
  4. Walk miles on spike-pierced feet.

German critic David Strauss, who by no means believes in the Resurrection, rejects this idea as incredible:

“It is impossible that One who had just come forth from the grave half dead, who crept about weak and ill, who stood in the need of medical treatment, of bandaging, strengthening, and tender care, and who at last succumbed to suffering, could ever have given the disciples the impression that He was a conqueror over death and the grave; that He was the Prince of Life.”

However, let’s suppose Jesus did accomplish all this.

He would still have one more task:
Jesus would need to so thoroughly convince his followers in a lie that they’d spread it to their deaths. No detractors.

The implausibility of it all is why I think it takes a greater faith leap not to believe than to believe.

What do you think?

Check out more FAQs about Jesus.

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