Each year, Easter offers an opportunity to showcase Jesus who transcends history and changes lives. The Cross and Resurrection are the foundation of a faith that is as real in isolation as in our public gatherings. There are three great reasons why Christianity is thoroughly believable and why giving voice to it this year is as important as ever.
1. Evidence for the Biblical account is overwhelming.
Archaeology has provided countless verifications of historical records in the Bible that were once thought to be contrived. These include the existence of the House of David and of Pontius Pilate (who approved the crucifixion). One of the oldest prayers in the Bible from Numbers 6:24-26 was also found on small silver scrolls from the seventh century B.C., and many other portions of the Bible are thoroughly supported, rather than refuted.
‘Evidence’ provided to contradict the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life, too, are always from a later period. The number of copies of New Testament portions dating to within decades of the events they describe, however, is significantly higher than for other ancient documents whose authenticity is not questioned.
2. Evidence for Jesus is overwhelming.
The Roman historian Tacitus and the Jewish historian Josephus are first century hostile witnesses both acknowledging the existence of Jesus and claims of His miracles and His Resurrection, making no attempt to deny them.
The Bible’s claim that there were 500 Resurrection witnesses (1 Corinthians 15:6) could easily have been disproved, but was not. Alternative theories are very weak, given that Jesus’ body could not have been stolen by people of character willing to die for their faith, when the guards were at risk of forfeiting their own lives.
3. Evidence of life change is overwhelming.
Alternatives to Jesus as the way to eternity are not compelling in that they lack supportive evidence. In addition, the cowardly-turned-courageous disciples were willing to die for their Christian faith, as were countless early martyrs. Mass collusion is impossible on this scale and mass deception can also not account for the widespread and rapid spread of Christianity in an era of limited communication.
Also, the sheer number of ongoing verifiable miracles of healing and transformed character cannot simply be explained away and they add credence to those we see in the Bible. Thousands of stories from around the world are often also backed by inspirational accounts of associated life change and societal improvement. The corruptions and sins of a handful of poor role models does not negate the deep and positive impact of this faith on the development of countries in which it has flourished.
The testimony of the Christian is that it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me (Galatians 2:20). And the fact that healing and other miracles are available today further shows that the Gospel is a message of power and not just words (1 Corinthians 4:20).
This Easter, Christians across the world do more than just bring a traditional message of hope amidst the chaos of coronavirus.
They also attest to the fact that a risen Jesus makes sense of uncertainty and confusion by being a personal story of transformation.
Christians voice a ‘lived testimony’ that therefore still needs to be heard.
Ours is a substantive faith. We affirm it on the basis of an encounter with the risen Christ who invites us to know the power of His Resurrection (Philippians 3:10). That transforming power is still available to everyone who calls on the name of the Lord to also be saved (Romans 10:13), so as to be certain of their eternal destiny but also that they might live in the light of it here and now.
May we all shine Christ’s light on our world this Easter and show that He still is still the defining difference in our lives, no matter what our circumstances might suggest.