Believing In Jesus

This past Sunday was Easter Sunday and so as one would expect, I preached on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The message I preached before the Columbia Church of Christ was based on the text from Matthew 28:1-10 (here’s the link to the message: What About Us?).

One of the questions about the death and, more importantly, resurrection of Jesus is the question of belief.  Can we reasonably believe in this good news?  That is, though we can believe in whatever we want to believe in, is there any credible reason(s) for believing in the good news of Jesus Christ?  I believe there are and while I don’t want to go into a full scale discussion of Christian apologetics, I do want to share two interesting notes that support the credibility of Jesus’ resurrection.

This passage from Matthew 28:1-10 ends with the resurrected Jesus Christ appearing to the two women, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary.  Verses 9-10 read:

Suddenly Jesus met them.  “Greetings,” he said.  They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him.  Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid.  Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Implicit in those two verse are two points of interest to the credibility of Jesus’ resurrection.

First, the two people Jesus appears to first are women.  These two women become the first missionaries, preachers, evangelists, or what ever we want to call it.  They were sent to the other disciples about the news of Jesus’ resurrection.  That’s significant.  In the Mediterranean world of the first century, women were regarded with a much lower esteem than men and their word was not regarded as trustworthy (Keener, A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, 698-699).  So if Matthew was simply trying to fabricate a story it would be rather self-defeating to include women in the details of the resurrection.

Second, one Jesus appears to the two women, they worshiped Jesus and they then became witnesses of Jesus.  This is significant because as far as a movement is concerned, this is where Christianity begins.  The legacy of these women has been repeated over and over as people have become believers in Jesus, they have also worshiped Jesus and become witnesses of Jesus — and sometimes while facing great persecution and opposition.  But one of the most remarkable facts for believing that the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus is true is the fact that within one hundred years of time, this Jesus movement became so large that Christians were beginning to be regarded as a fourth human race (N.T. Wright, The New Testament and the People of God, 359).

Neither reason proves or substantiates with absolute certainty that Jesus was in fact crucified and resurrected as the scriptures claim but I believe they do offer credible reasons.  I don’t actually believe that absolute proof or certainty can be offered for believing in the good news of Jesus Christ and if it could, there wouldn’t be any need for faith.  Sometimes though, we need to remember that faith in Jesus Christ does not require a suspension of reasonability.

——————–

I also will mention two other article I have recently written.  The first is an article for Peter Horne’s blog titled Easter’s Promise for the Broken Heart.  Sometimes the struggle with faith stems from the grief and disappointments we suffer, which I understand.  So I’ve written in this article about the struggle with doubt and why I have chosen faith (without downplaying doubt).  The second article has been published by New Wineskins, an online Christian magazine and it is titled Living the Way of Jesus.  Those who believe in Jesus are called to follow him, to become his disciple.  In this article I explain what it means to live as a disciple of Jesus Christ and why it is essential that Christians learn to live as disciples.

So if these two articles interest you then you have the links.  Thanks for reading!

Advertisements

4 responses to “Believing In Jesus

  1. I’ll have to be honest that I have mixed thoughts about the reasonableness of the Resurrection based on external evidence such as the rapid growth and sustainability of the early church.

    On the one hand, I do think there is evidence there that something happened on that first Easter, and in the period after that –something big enough to get a major ball rolling that would affect the world from that point forward.

    But I think we have to be careful with relying on the argument that a major, long-lasting religious movement wouldn’t be able to take off and survive like that unless it was true. What about Islam? What about the Mormon church (which continues to have a strong growth rate over evangelical churches)? By logic, the claims of these two groups can’t both be true. At least one or both are false (no disrespect meant, just using logic here). Yet they have immense influence, especially Muslims – for 1200+ years and counting!

    I appreciate your post Rex & I’m not trying to knock it at all. I’m honestly throwing out my own (apologetic) struggles, especially based on conversations I’ve had with non-believers in the past. It’s made me very cautious with how to attempt to present “evidence” I guess.

    , there is stronger “evidence” (however you want to take that), when the claims of the Resurrection are held up in light of:

    In my own journey, and how I approach the claims of the Christian faith, I choose to believe the Resurrection is true and believable because of:

    1) The larger story of redemption as we see played out in the Bible. To me, the individual pieces of the story over 2000+ years connect together into one beautiful flow that is way too magnificent and astounding to me to just be coincidental. In other words, the Resurrection is the key story that makes the bigger Story make sense. I think that is why Jesus makes sure to open the minds of the disciples to understand what was going on in light of history and prior writings of faith that looked forward to that day (cf. the story of the Road to Emmaus). Past, present, & future make a lot more sense when viewed through the lens of the Resurrection.
    2) The message of the Resurrection in light of the shared experience of everyone who has ever lived. In other words, I believe the Resurrection happened because it answers the deepest longings, fears, hopes, and dreams of the human heart. The Resurrection gives humanity an answer to the deepest longings of our soul that can be found nowhere else. Period.
    3) The witness of those whose lives have been affected by the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. I believe God is at work because I choose to see how he has inSpired people to live in such a way that points to a Truth greater than themselves and the broken world around us. I suppose this last point is the one that most closely connects with the points in your post above, Rex.

    As you so rightly put it, in the end it comes down to faith. Always has. Because faith offers us something that certainty does not, molds us and sustains us in a way that absolute proof is incapable of doing. And that is a mystery worth pondering.

    Grace & peace,
    Ray

    • Ray,

      Thanks for your extended comment. You are right about having concerns with banking our faith solely on the two reasons I mention in the post. I don’t want to do that. The reasons for why I believe in Jesus are much more than the two reasons I have listed in the post. I would certainly include the three points you mention.

      Grace and Peace,

      Rex

      • Yeah when I read your post I didn’t think you were trying to nail it on those two things alone. Our faith & reasons for belief are way bigger than that like you said. My comments above were just my own reflections of how I’ve wrestled with the points in trying to be honest with myself on belief in the resurrection.

        I liked what you had to say, especially about the women’s roles as the first witnesses. I’m sure that had an even stronger apologetic impact for the early Christians than it does for us today.

      • The article that I linked to titled Easter’s Promise for the Broken Heart is really about my own struggle with faith after the death of my son and why I discarded absolute certainty about God in exchange for faith. This faith I now have is not without questions (and doubts at times) but it sees the story of redemption unfolding in scripture being fulfilled in the crucifixion and resurrection as an answer to the sin and suffering of the world which is attested to by the many people throughout history who have embraced this story by faith too (which I believe is the point of your three points).

        Any ways, thanks again for your thoughts and engagement.

        Grace and Peace,

        Rex

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s