“Then they all said, ‘Are You then the Son of God?’ So He said to them, ‘You rightly say that I am.’" (Luke 22:70 NKJV)
Most Christians accept Christ’s claim without doubt. Non-believers scoff at the assertion.
At best, skeptics offer that Jesus was a good man and wise teacher. At worst they say He is a myth. That He never walked the earth and is nothing more than a necessary manmade creation that allows people to cope with the frightening unknown of death.
The Bible, the best historical record of the times, states conclusively that Jesus is who He says He is - but that claim often falls on deaf ears. Agnostics, while denying God, at least have the humility to acknowledge there is a higher power in the universe that eclipses their own sense of self-worth. Wouldn’t it be sad if, as the atheists believe, we are the best the universe has to offer?
While God asks us to have the unquestioning faith of a child, He does not expect us to check our brains at the front door. So, in addition to your faith, or lack thereof, consider the intellectual facts. When you do, you’ll find belief in Christ Jesus is well-founded.
To make the point, we first have to consider the fate of those who knew Jesus best and/or lived in His time.
While there is no way to know the exact number of Christians who were burned at the stake, fed to the lions, or were crucified for their faith - what we do know from historical record is how the disciples died.
Andrew - crucified. Bartholomew - crucified. James (Jesus’ brother) - stoned to death. James (son of Alphaeus) - crucified. James (son of Zebedee) - by sword. John - natural causes. Matthew - by sword. Peter - crucified. Philip - crucified. Simon - crucified. Thaddeus - by arrows. Thomas - by spear.
All, except John, died vicious and/or violent deaths. Lets explore just one method, crucifixion.
For a detailed explanation, I recommend: http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/facts/fm0027.html.
Before you go there, be warned. The description offered is graphic and stomach turning. In addition to the torture, crucifixion was also meant as a form of disgrace and humiliation reserved for slaves and criminals. No one would willingly endure such horror unless there was a monumentally compelling reason we cannot even begin to comprehend.
To that point, we have to review the state of mind of the disciples after Christ was put to death.
The disciples’ world had been completely shattered. They left their families and jobs for a man who was treated as if He was nothing more than the likes of the criminals with whom He was crucified. They were hardly “profiles in courage,” which is understandable under the circumstances. They denied knowing Him. They were in a complete frenzy.
But then something amazing happened that changed His followers from cowering cowards into biblical super-heroes who were completely unafraid to die for their beliefs. They were witness to the crucifixion of a man who was buried, then walked among them, and then ascended into heaven. They saw first-hand the proof of His Deity.
If you wish to deny the Bible’s historical facts you must be willing to offer a reasonable alternative - something far more believable than a mass hallucination, or that Christ survived the Crucifixion, or that the story of the Risen Christ is nothing more than a lie told by followers to perpetuate Christianity.
After reading the explanation I recommended regarding the mechanics of crucifixion I trust you’ll agree it would be impossible to survive such physical torment. And mass hallucination? That’s absurd. The Risen Christ was seen by hundreds of people, not only the disciples, and the sightings happened at different times and places. As for the “lie” theory, who would invite the methods of death the disciples willingly endured to perpetuate a lie? Answer: No one!
The truth is, there is no acceptable alternative explanation to the Risen Christ.
The fact is, Christ arose from the grave.
The disciples went from being terrified to even utter His name to being men who openly preached the Gospel, knowing that doing so would lead to their deaths, most likely on a cross. The Risen Christ also explains the thousands of others who could have lived had they renounced their belief, but instead were killed in various inhuman ways because they would not deny Him.
I believe Jesus is the Son of God because I have faith. Logic dictates the same conclusion.
Ed Mrkvicka is an award winning Christian author, lay minister, and lifelong Bible student.
His newest book, “The Prayer Promise of Christ,” has just been named Christian Book of the Year by Books & Authors.net.
His web site is located at: www.EdwardFMrkvickaJr.com