As a pastor my favorite text for Easter Sunday is John 20. I have used titles such as “Why I Believe in the Resurrection of Jesus.” It’s one of those texts that preaches itself….
One of the problems I’ve had with Christians, which certain theologians started, was that Christianity needs to be taken “on faith.” By this they mean that there is no evidence and you “take a leap of faith.” That is, you believe in spite of a lack of evidence. If that is actually the case, I wouldn’t waste my time with Christianity. I have better things to do and believe than adhering to something that has no evidence.
Now granted, most things cannot be proved absolutely. If we needed absolute proof we wouldn’t believe much of anything. But to look at evidence and come to a conclusion about what is most reasonable is a very good practice. Too many people today believe popular story lines that have no basis in reality. And you can add to that the fact that people who speak the truth, many times basic common sense, are fired or ostracized and banned in our cancel culture.
We do find people who have rejected Christianity because as a young person they asked questions and were either ostracized or simply told to “take it on faith.” If a pastor or teacher doesn’t know the answer say so and respond, “Let me find the answer to that” or refer the person to someone who can provide a satisfactory answer.
Back to the resurrection: it there evidence? Yes!
In John 20, as Mary Magdalene came to the tomb, we can note that Jesus’ early followers were not expecting a resurrection (John 20:1, 3). Second, the massive stone, which the Roman soldiers were guarding, had been rolled away (John 20:1).
The linen cloths, which had been wrapped around Jesus’ body, were lying there (John 20:6-8). If the body had been stolen, these cloths would not have been left behind.
In John 20:11-18 we see that Jesus appeared to Mary (and later made other appearance to skeptical people).
And speaking of skeptics, we have Thomas, whom I greatly appreciate. (You couldn’t sell him ocean front property in Arizona.) He would not believe based upon the eye witness testimony of others; Thomas had to see Jesus for himself and make sure it was Jesus.
Jesus dealt with Thomas’s doubts, and Thomas made a great statement on Jesus’ deity: “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28).
That’s why John can state the purpose of his book, “But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31).
That’s the message in a nutshell. The Bible presents reasons to believe, and we as believers should do the same. Now many people will still reject Christ because they love their sin. But for those who are open, we shouldn’t hinder them by acting as though the resurrection and the Christian faith have no basis for belief.
Ashton C. Smith, Certified Church Consultant