Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Is Jesus Real and did the resurrection happen?

When faced with a query about the truth of Jesus and the resurrection, I submitted the following to the man who opened his blog for others to comment:

First, I would say that any belief starts from faith. For Christian faith, I believe God calls us and we respond to the love that distinguishes Christianity from other religions. This is an intangible, but no less valid that recognizing any expression of love.

Next, I submit that you ask God, directly, in the form of a prayer for guidance the exact question you seek. For example, “If I am to believe in the resurrection, can you not direct me to the answer?”

I trust that God meets us where we are and leads us step by step. God’s word is a light for our path Psalm 119 and shines on the path enough for us to take the next step.

On the idea of the veracity of the resurrection, I submit the following:

Jesus showed himself to witnesses: first the women, then Peter and John, then two on the road to Emmaus, then the eleven (including Thomas who touched his wounds for proof), and then to the 500 and then he was with the disciples again when he went to heaven. All of these instances are told in the gospels and Acts.

Jesus claimed to be the son of man and the Son of God able to forgive sins (Mark 4-no one can forgive save God alone)and John the baptizer witnessed the spirit descending on Jesus like a dove and the voice from heaven calling Jesus his son (with whom he was very pleased.)

Other historians (e.g. Josephus) corroborate Jesus’ real existence and the Quran references the prophet Jesus. Most historians accept the circumstance that there was a real person named Jesus about whom all these things are written.

I submit that claiming to be the son of God is a claim to made by either the true Son of God or by a crazy person. If I were to claim to be God’s only son, I would be escorted to a psychiatrist for abnormal behavior. This is because I am not that person and my behavior is aberrant if I claim I am. Would the Quran call me a prophet? I don’t think so. Would historians call me a prophet, a sage or someone to be revered? Yet, he is, consistently, called a prophet by others and not a “crazy person.”

Either Christ is crazy or he is who he says he is. Christ claims that they would kill him and in three days, he would rise again.(Matt 20) Either this is true or he is a false prophet.

Josephus, a Jew, and the writers of the Quran—two sources from faith groups that deny that Jesus is the son of God, speak of Jesus as the Christ, a prophet. They don’t speak of him as that crazy idiot who claimed foolishly that he was a prophet.

Proving something to be true, doesn’t make a believer, just as not being certain of what to believe make one an unbeliever. Fortunately, I am not God, the judge nor am I applying for the position. The truth of belief that people seem so ardently challenging you to follow is ultimately a question that only you and God can answer.

I applaud your search. Paul commended the Bereans as people who studied diligently. It is only in the constant study and examination that we will truly find the truth. The truth can set us free. Free to be more Christ-like, gentle with sinners and critical of arrogance.

I hope that I was of some benefit in your search.

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