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Reading Selections from The Case For Christ by Lee Strobel

November 5, 2010

Lee Strobel

A former atheist and hard-bitten journalist with The Chicago Tribune, in 1980 Lee Strobel began an investigation that would alter the course of his life forever. Observing the transformation in his wife following her conversion to Christianity, he began exploring the evidence supporting the truthfulness of the Christian faith. What he discovered eventually led to his own commitment to Christ in 1981.

Recounting the investigation process, Strobel remarks, “Some people are more experiential – they like to experience things – but because I come from a law background, a legal background, and a journalism background, I tend to respond to facts and evidence. My way of processing my spiritual journey was to ask the question ‘Is there any evidence that supports Christianity being true?’”

Lee Strobel knows a good story. More importantly, he knows how to sort through confusing facts and data in order to get to the bottom of the truth. As the former legal affairs editor for The Chicago Tribune, he has sat in courtrooms and police departments and done countless interviews to search out the story and get the facts. Says Strobel, “I proceeded to gather all the evidence pro and con and be as thorough as I can and ask all the tough questions, and then subject them to scrutiny of a skeptic. I determined to remain open and vowed that I would respond to whichever direction the evidence points. I think that is a rational way to behave. That is to say ‘If there is convincing evidence, then the most rational and logical thing I could do would be to follow that evidence regardless of which direction it took me.’”

The nearly two-year process led him to the conclusion that the evidence overwhelmingly supports Christianity as being true. It also led him to his current roles as best-selling author, sought-after speaker, and a teaching pastor and writer-in-residence at Saddleback Valley Community Church, one of the fastest growing churches in the nation. At Saddleback he regularly speaks to the 16,000 seekers and Christians at its weekend services.

In 1998 Strobel’s investigation formed the basis for the runaway bestseller The Case for Christ. “In this book, I retrace the spiritual journey I took for two years,” explains Strobel. “Instead of me reiterating the historical evidence that I found convincing, I went out and interviewed fourteen leading scholars and experts and I posed to them the tough questions I had as a skeptic. I forced them to give cogent and meaningful and convincing answers in terms of whether or not Christianity is indeed reliable. What I find a lot of people do is to get two copies [of the book]. They get one copy for themselves to strengthen their own faith, but then they get one to give to a friend who may be investigating Christianity or may not be a Christian but is open to the faith. This gives them a basis to discuss things and enter into a dialogue about it.”
(Author Blurb From ChristianBook.com)

The Theme Of Deity in John and The Synoptics
John makes very explicit claims about Jesus being God, which some attribute to the fact that he wrote later than the others and began embellishing things. (However), the theme of deity is in the synoptics, (although) it is more implicit.

Jesus’ Assertion Of Divinity I
For example, think of the story of Jesus walking on the water, found in Matthew 14: 22-33 and in Mark 6:45-52. Most English translations hide the Greek by quoting Jesus as saying, “Fear not, it is I.” Actually the Greek literally says, “Fear not, I am.” Those last two words are identical to what Jesus said in John 8:58, when he took upon himself the divine name “I AM”, which is the way God revealed himself to Moses in the burning bush in Exodus 3:14. So Jesus is revealing himself as the one who has the same divine power over nature as Yahweh, the God of the Old Testament.

Jesus’ Assertion Of Divinity II: Son Of Man
“Son of Man” is often thought to indicate the humanity of Jesus, just as the reflex expression “Son of God” indicates his divinity. In fact, just the opposite is true. Contrary to popular belief “Son of Man” does not primarily refer to Jesus’ humanity. Instead it is a direct allusion to Daniel 7: 13-14 ["In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.]

This is someone who approaches God himself in his heavenly throne room and is given universal authority and dominion; someone who would come at the end of the world to judge mankind and rule forever. That makes “Son of Man” a title of great exaltation, nor of mere humanity.

Jesus’ Assertion Of Divinity III: His Claims to Forgive Sin
Jesus claims to forgive sins in the synoptics, and that is something only God can do. Jesus accepts prayer and worship. Jesus says, “Whoever acknowledges me, I will acknowledge before my Father in heaven.” Final judgment is based upon one’s reaction to whom? This mere human being? No, that would be a very arrogant claim. Final judgment is based on one’s reaction to Jesus as God.

The Gospels’ Theological Agenda
In the ancient world the idea of writing dispassionate, objective history merely to chronicle events, with no ideological purpose, was unheard of. Nobody wrote history if there wasn’t a reason to learn from it. As with any ideological document, there are people who distort history to serve their ideological ends. But it is a mistake to think that that always happens. A modern parallel from the experience of the Jewish community clarifies this. Some people, usually for anti-Semitic purposes, deny or downplay the horrors of the Holocaust. But it has been the Jewish scholars who’ve created museums, written books, preserved artifacts and documented eyewitness testimony concerning the Holocaust. Now, they have a very ideological purpose – namely to ensure that such an atrocity never occurs again – but they have also been the most faithful and objective in their reporting of historical truth. Christianity was likewise based on certain historical claims that God uniquely entered into space an time in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, so the very ideology that Christians were trying to promote required as careful historical work as possible.

The Resurrection Is Not A Mythological Concept Developed in Legends
It’s important to remember that the books of the New Testament are not in chronological order. The gospels were written after almost all the letters of Paul, whose writing ministry probably began in the late 40s. Most of is major letters appeared during the50s. To find the earliest information, one goes to Paul’s epistles and then asks, “Are there signs that even earlier sources were used in writing them.

We find that Paul incorporated some creeds, confessions of faith, or hymns from the earliest Christian church. These go way back to the dawning of the church soon after the Resurrection. The most famous creeds include Philippians 2:6-11[Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death -- even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.] — which talk about Jesus being “in the very nature God,” and Colossians 1: 15-20 [He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.], — which describes him as being “the image of the invisible God,” who created all things and though whom all things are reconciled with God “ by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”

Perhaps the most important creed in terms of the historical Jesus is 1 Corinthians 15, where Paul uses technical language to indicate he was passing along this oral tradition in relatively fixed form. [The apostle uses the technical terminology of passing on oral tradition as was commonly done in those biblical cultures when writing was rare. "I delivered" and "I received" are the technical terms for the transmission of an oral tradition. Similar expressions can be found in the written Mishnah that contains much of the oral tradition of Judaism from Jesus' time. The significance of this language is that it reflects a pattern of careful teaching and repetition to make sure that the teaching was correctly transferred from Paul to the Corinthian church.]

If the crucifixion was as early as A.D. 30, Paul’s conversion was about A.D. 32. Immediately Paul was ushered into Damascus, where he met with a Christian named Ananias and some other disciples. His first meeting with the apostle in Jerusalem would have been about A.D. 35. At some point Paul was given this creed, which had already been formulated and was being used in the early church. 1 Corinthians 15 contains the key facts about Jesus’ death for our sins, plus a detailed list of those to whom he appeared in resurrected form – all dating back to within two to five years of the events themselves. That’s not later mythology from forty or more years down the road as contrarians have suggested. A good case can be made for saying that Christian belief in the Resurrection, though not yet written down, can be dated to within two years of that very event – this is enormously significant. It’s not the thirty to sixty years with the five hundred years that’s generally acceptable for other data – you’re talking about two.

The Intentions Of The Gospels
Luke states a clear intention at the beginning of his gospel to write accurately about the things he investigated and found to be well supported by witnesses. While Mark and Matthew don’t have the explicit kind of statement that Luke does, they are close in terms of genre and it seem reasonable that Luke’s historical intent would closely mirror theirs. John contains a statement of purpose n 20:31. Consider also the way that the gospels are written – in a sober and responsible fashion, with accurate incidental details, with obvious care and exactitude. You don’t find the outlandish flourishes and blatant mythologizing that you see in a lot of other ancient writings…. Further, after Jesus’ ascension there were a number of controversies that threatened the early church – should believers be circumcised, how should speaking in tongues be regulated, how to keep Jew and Gentile united, what are the appropriate roles for women in ministry, whether believers could divorce non-Christian spouses. These issues could have been conveniently resolved if the early Christians had simply read back into the gospels what Jesus had told them from the world beyond. But his never happened. The continuance of these controversies demonstrates that Christians were interested in distinguishing between what happened during Jesus’ lifetime and what was debated later in the churches.

No Original New Testament Documentation
There is no original New Testament. This is not an issue that’s unique to the Bible; it’s a question that can be asked of other documents that have come down to us from antiquity. But what he New Testament has in its favor, especially compared with other ancient writings, this is the unprecedented multiplicity of copies that have survived. It’s important because the more often you have copies that agree with each other, especially if they emerge from different geographical areas, the more you can cross-check them to figure out what the original document was like. The only way they’d agree would be where they went back genealogically in a family tree that represented the descent of the manuscripts. We also have copies commencing within a couple of generations from the writing of the originals, whereas in the case of other ancient texts, maybe five , eight, or ten centuries elapsed between the original and the earliest surviving copy. In addition to Greek manuscripts, we also have translations of the gospels into other languages at a relatively early time – into Latin, Syriac and Coptic. And beyond that, we have what may be called secondary translations made a little later, like Armenian and Gothic. And a lot of others – Georgian, Ethiopic, a great variety. Even if we lost all the Greek manuscripts and the early translations, we could still reproduce the contents of the New Testament from the multiplicity of quotations in commentaries, sermons, letters, and so forth of the early church fathers.

…Consider Tacitus, the Roman historian who wrote his Annals of Imperial Rome in about A.D. 116. His first six books exist today in only one manuscript and it was copied about A.D 850. Books eleven through sixteen are in another manuscript dating form the eleventh century. Books seven through ten are lost. So there is a long time between the time that Tacitus sought his information, wrote it down, and the existing copies.

…The quantity of New Testament material is almost embarrassing in comparison with other works of antiquity. Next to the New Testament the greatest amount of manuscript testimony is of Homer’s Iliad, which was the bible of the ancient Greeks. There are more than 650 Greek manuscripts of it today. Some are quite fragmentary. They come to us from the second and third century A.D. and following. When you consider that Homer composed his epic about 800 B.C., you can see that’s a very lengthy gap…. There are 99 fragmentary pieces of papyrus that contain one or more passages or books of he New Testament. The most significant to come to light are the Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri, discovered about 1930. Of these the  Beatty Biblical Papyrus number one contains portions of the four gospels and the book of Acts and it dates from the third century. Papyrus number two contains large portions of eight letters of Paul, plus portions of Hebrews, dating to the about the year 200. Papyrus number three has a sizable section for the book of Revelation, dating form the third century…. The earliest portion we possess today is that of John, containing material from chapter 18. I t ahs five verses – three on one side, two on the other – and it measures about two and half by three and a half inches. It was purchased in Egypt as early as 1920, but it sat unnoticed for years among similar fragment of papyri. Then in 1934 C.H. Roberts of St. Johns College, Oxford was sorting through the papyri at the John Roland’s Library in Manchester, England. He immediately recognized this as preserving a portion of John’s gospel. He was able to date it from the style of the script. He concluded that it originated between A.D. 100 to A.D. 150…This was a stunning discovery because skeptical German theologians in the last century argued strenuously that the fourth gospel was not yet composed until at least the year 160 – too distant form the events of Jesus’ life to be of much historical use. They were able to influence generations of scholars, who scoffed at his gospels’ reliability… The New Testament then has not only survived in more manuscripts than any other book from antiquity, but it has survived in a purer form than any other great book – a form that is 99.5 percent pure…. It is unprecedented in its reliability.

Criteria For The New Testament
Basically the early church had three criteria: first, the books must have been written either by apostles themselves, who were eyewitnesses to what they wrote about, or by followers of the apostles. So in the case of Mark and Luke, while they weren’t among the twelve disciples, early tradition has it that Mark was a helper of Peter, and Luke was an associate of Paul. Second there was the criterion of conformity to what was called the rule of faith. That is, was the document congruent with the basic Christian tradition that the church recognized as normative? And then there was the criterion of whether a document had had continuous acceptance and usage by the church at large.

How The New Testament Became Canonical
It is a simple truth to say that the New Testament became canonical because no one could stop them doing so. We can be confident that no other ancient books can compare with the New Testament in terms of importance for Christian history or doctrine. When one studies the early history of the canon, one walks away convinced that the New Testament contains the best sources for the history of Jesus, Those who discerned the limits of the canon had a clear and balanced perspective of the gospel of Christ.

Read these other documents for yourself. They’re written later than the four gospels, in the second, third, fourth, fifth, even sixth centuries, long after Jesus, and they’re generally quite banal. They carry names – like the Gospel of Peter and the Gospel of Mary – that are unrelated to their real authorship. On the other hand, the four gospels in the New Testament were readily accepted with remarkable unanimity as being authentic in the story they told…The Gospel of Thomas ends with a note saying, ‘Let Mary go away from us, because women are not worthy of life.’ Jesus is quoted as saying: ‘Lo I shall lead her in order to make her a male, so that she too may become a living spirit, resembling you males. For every woman who makes herself male will enter into the kingdom of heaven.’

A Passage From Testimonium Flavianum By Josephus
About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who wrought surprising feats and was teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Christ. When Pilate, upon hearing him accused by men of the highest standing among us, had condemned him to be crucified, those who had in the first place come to love him did not give up their affection for him. On the third day he appeared to them restored to life, for the prophets of God had prophesied these and countless other marvelous things about him. And the tribe of Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared.

The above passage is generally accepted by both Christian and Jewish scholars as on the whole authentic, although there may be some interpolations. For example, the phrase “if indeed one ought to call him a man” seems to be inserted. “He was the Christ” is questionable because in another passage Josephus says in reference to James that Jesus “was called the Christ”. Finally the clear declaration of belief in the Resurrection makes it unlikely that Josephus authored that portion. (Despite all of that) Josephus corroborates important information about Jesus: that he was a martyred leader of the church in Jerusalem and that he was a wise teacher who had established a wide and lasting following, despite the fact that he had been crucified under Pilate at the instigation of some of the Jewish leaders.

Scholar Paul Maier wrote about the non-biblical attestation of the darkness that occurred at the time of Jesus’ death: “This phenomenon, evidently was visible in Rome, Athens, and other Mediterranean cities. According to Tertullian …it was a “cosmic” or “world event.” Phlegon, a Greek author from Caria writing a chronology soon after 137 A.D., reported that in the 4th year of the 202nd Olympiad (i.e. 33 A.D) there was “the greatest eclipse of the sun” and that it became night in the sixth hour of the day (i.e. noon) so that the stars even appeared in the heavens. There was a great earthquake in Bithynia, and many things were overturned in Nicaea.”

Amen, Amen, I Say Unto You
Actually Jesus taught in and radically new way. He begins his teaching with the phrase ‘Amen I say to you’ which is to say, ‘I swear in advance to the truthfulness of what I’m about to say.’ This was absolutely revolutionary.

Jesus’ Use Of ‘Abba’
Jesus’ use of ‘Abba’ (a term of endearment in which a child would say to a parent ‘Father Dearest’) is quite significant. It implies that Jesus had a degree of intimacy with God that is unlike anything in the Judaism of his day…Jesus is saying that only through having a relationship with God does this kind of prayer language – this ‘Abba’ relationship with God – become possible. This says volumes about how he regarded himself.

The Incarnation
Philippians 2, where Paul tells us that Jesus, ‘being in the form of God, did not think equality with God was something to be exploited’ – that’s the way it should be translated – ‘but emptied himself.’ does not tell us precisely what the eternal Son emptied himself of. He emptied himself; he became a nobody. Some kind of emptying is at issue, but let’s be frank – you’re talking about the Incarnation, one of the central mysteries of the Christian faith. You’re dealing with a formless, bodiless, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent spirit and finite, touchable, physical, time-bound creatures,. For one to become the other inevitable binds you up in mysteries. So part of the Christian theology has been concerned not with ‘explaining it all away’ but with trying to take the biblical evidence and, retaining it all fairly, find ways of synthesis that are rationally coherent, even if they’re not exhaustively explanatory.

The Scourging At The Pillar
Roman floggings were known to be terribly brutal. They usually consisted of thirty-nine lashes, but frequently were a lot more than that, depending upon the mood of the soldier applying the blows. The soldier would use a whip of braided leather thongs with metal balls woven into them. When the whip would strike the flesh, these balls would cause deep bruises or contusions, which would break open with further blows. And the whip had pieces of sharp bone as well which would cut the flesh severely. The back would be so shredded that part of the spine was sometimes exposed by the deep, deep cuts. The whipping would have gone all the way from the shoulders down to the back the buttocks and the back of the legs…. As the flogging continued, the lacerations would tear into the underlying skeletal muscles and produce quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh. A third century historian by the name of Eusebius described a flogging by saying: ‘The sufferer’s veins were laid bare, and the very muscles sinews and bowels of the victims were open to exposure.”

Crucifixion
Once a person is hanging in the vertical position, crucifixion is essentially an agonizingly slow death by asphyxiation. The reason is that the stresses on the muscles and diaphragm put the chest into the inhaled position; basically, in order to exhale, the individual must push up on his feet so the tension on the muscles would be eased for a moment. In doing so, the nail would tear through the foot, eventually locking up the tarsal bones.

After managing to exhale, the person would be able to relax down and take another breath in. Again he’d have to push himself up to exhale, scraping his bloodied back against the coarse wood of the cross. This would go on and on until complete exhaustion would take over, and the person wouldn’t be able to push up and breathe anymore.

As the person slows down his breathing, he goes into what is called respiratory acidosis – the carbon dioxide in the blood is dissolved as carbonic acid, causing the acidity of the blood to increase, this eventually leads to irregular heart beat. In fact with his heart beating erratically, Jesus would have known that he was at the moment of death, which is when he was able to say, ‘Lord into your hands I commend my spirit.’ And then he died of cardiac arrest. The hypovolemic shock that Jesus suffered from the flogging he had received earlier would have caused a sustained rapid heart rate that would have contributed to heart failure, resulting in the collection of fluid in the membrane around the heart, called pericardial effusion, as well as around the lungs, which is called a pleural effusion. This is significant because when the Roman soldier confirmed his death by thrusting a spear into his right side, the spear apparently went through the right lung and into the heart so when the spear was pulled out, some fluid – the pericardial effusion and the pleural effusion  — came out. This would have the appearance of a clear fluid, like water, followed by a large volume of blood, as the eyewitness John described in his gospel. John’s description is consistent with what modern medicine would have expected to have happened.

Corroborative Evidence
In the Verdict of History, historian Gary Habermas details a total of thirty-nine ancient sources documenting the life of Jesus, from which he enumerates more than one hundred reported facts concerning Jesus’ life, teachings, crucifixion, and resurrection. What’s more, twenty-four of the sources cited by Habermas, including seven secular sources and several of the earliest creeds of the church, specifically concern the divine nature of Jesus. “These creeds reveal that the church did not simply teach Jesus’ deity a generation later, as is so often repeated in contemporary theology, because this doctrine is definitely present in the earliest church…The best explanation for these creeds is that they properly represent Jesus’ own teachings.”

The Discoverers Of The Empty Tomb
When you understand the role of women in first-century Jewish society, what’s really extraordinary is that this empty tomb story should feature women as the discoverers of the empty tomb in the first place. Women were on a very low rung of the social ladder in first-century Palestine, There are old rabbinical sayings that said, ‘Let the words of the Law be burned rather than delivered to women’ and ‘Blessed is he whose children are male, but woe to him whose children are female.’ Women’s testimony was regarded as so worthless that they weren’t even allowed to serve as legal witnesses in a Jewish court of law. In light of this it is absolutely remarkable that the chief witnesses to the empty tomb are these women who were friends of Jesus. Any later legendary account would have certainly portrayed male disciples as discovering the tomb – Peter or John for example. The fact that women are the first witnesses to the empty tomb is most plausibly explained by the reality that – like it or not – they were the discoverers of the empty tomb! This shows that he gospel writers faithfully recorded what happened, even if it was embarrassing. This bespeaks the historicity of this tradition rather than its legendary status.

The Empty Tomb Is Historical Fact
The empty tomb is implicit in the early tradition that is passed along by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15, which is a very old and reliable source of historical information about Jesus.

 Christian and Jew alike knew the site of Jesus’ tomb. So if it weren’t empty, it would have been impossible for a movement founded on belief in the Resurrection to have come into existence in the same city where this man had been publicly executed and buried.

We can tell from the language, grammar, and style that Mark got his empty tomb story from an earlier source. There’s evidence that it was written before A.D.37, which is much too early for legend to have seriously corrupted it. It would have been unprecedented anywhere in history for legend to have grown up that fast and significantly distorted the gospels.

Mark’s account of the story of the empty tomb is stark in its simplicity and unadorned by theological reflection.

The unanimous testimony that the empty tomb was discovered by women argues for the authenticity of the story, because this would have been embarrassing for the disciples to admit an most certainly would have been covered up if this were a legend.

The Significance Of The Dating Of The Creed
We know that Paul wrote 1 Corinthians between A.D. 55 and 57. He indicates in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 that he has already passed on this creed to the church at Corinth, which would mean it must predate his visit there in A.D. 51. Therefore the creed is being used within 20 years of the Resurrection, which is quite early. Various scholars trace it back even further to within two to eight years of the Resurrection, or from about A.D. 32 to 38, when Paul received it in either Damascus or Jerusalem. So this is incredibly early material – primitive, unadorned testimony to the fact that Jesus appeared alive to skeptics like Paul and James as well as to Peter and the rest of the disciples. The leading view is that Paul got his testimony from the eyewitnesses Peter and James themselves, and he took great pains to confirm its accuracy. Paul takes a trip to Jerusalem three years after his conversion and describes the trip in Galatians 1:18-19 where he uses the Greek word historeo. Paul played the role of examiner and made an investigative inquiry (and the use of the word reflects this.)

The Resurrection: The Central Proclamation
Acts is littered with references to Jesus appearances. The apostle Peter was adamant about it. He says in Acts 2:32 that “God has raised Jesus to life and we are all witnesses of the fact. In Acts 3:15 he repeats, “You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.” He confirms to Cornelius in Acts 10:41 that he and others “ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead”…The earliest Christians didn’t just endorse Jesus’ teachings they were convinced they had seen him alive after his crucifixion. That’s what changed their lives and started the church…. Since this was their centermost conviction, they would have made absolutely sure that it was true…

The Amount Of Testimony
The amount of testimony and corroboration of Jesus’ post-Resurrection appearance is staggering. To put it all in perspective, if you were to call each one of the witnesses to a court of law to be cross-examined for just fifteen minutes each, and you went around the clock without a break, it would take you from breakfast on Monday until dinner on Friday to hear them all. After listening to 129 straight hours of eyewitness testimony, who could possibly walk away unconvinced?

The Change In The Apostles And Jesus’ Followers
When Jesus was crucified, his followers were discouraged and depressed. They not longer had confidence that Jesus had been sent by God, because they believed anyone crucified was accursed by God. They also had been taught that God would not let his Messiah suffer death. So they dispersed. The Jesus movement was all but stopped in its tracks. Then, after a short period of time we see them abandoning their occupations, regathering and committing themselves to spreading a very specific message – that Jesus Christ was the Messiah of God who died on a cross, returned to life and was seen alive by them. And they were willing to spend the rest of their lives proclaiming this , without any payoff from a human point of view. They often went without food, slept exposed to the elements, were ridiculed, beaten, imprisoned. And finally, most of them were executed in torturous ways. For what? For good intentions? No, most of them were convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that they had seen Jesus Christ alive from the dead…the apostles were willing to die for something they had seen with their own eyes and touched with their own hands. They were in a unique position not to just believe Jesus rose from the dead but to know for sure.

The Skeptics
There were hardened skeptics who didn’t believe Jesus before his crucifixion – and were dead-set against Christianity – who turned around and adopted the Christian faith after Jesus’ death…The Gospels tell us Jesus’ family, including James, were embarrassed by what he was claiming to be. They didn’t believe in him; they confronted him. In ancient Judaism it was highly embarrassing for a rabbi’s family not to accept him. Therefore the gospel writers would have no motive for fabricating this skepticism if it weren’t true

Revolutionizing Five Social Structures In Jewish Life
Five weeks after Christ is crucified, over ten thousand Jews are following him and claiming that he is the initiator of a new religion.

They are no longer offering animal sacrifices

You don’t become an upstanding member of the Jewish community merely by keeping Moses’ laws.

Christians worship on Sundays, a 15 hundred year tradition changed.

The Jewish belief in monotheism is changed to three persons in one God: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

 Christians believe in a Messiah who suffered and died for the sins of the world, whereas Jews had been trained to believe that the Messiah was going to be a political leader who would destroy the Roman armies.

C.S. Lewis On The Evidence For Jesus
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic or else he would be a devil from hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at his feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

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