by Bill Nugent
There were at least three occasions when Jesus Christ Himself was called upon to defend the faith. (There were more than three occasions but we will examine just three.) It is interesting to consider the evidence that Jesus brought forward to defend the Christian faith on these three occasions.
The first occasion is recorded in Matthew 11:1-6 in which Jesus defended His Messiahship by referring to His miracles. Jesus said“Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up . . . “ (NASB). The mighty miracles that Jesus worked by the power of the Holy Spirit in the presence of many witnesses were proof positive that He is the promised Messiah of Israel who came to die for the sins of the people and thus bring redemption.
The second occasion on which Jesus defended the faith was immediately after His resurrection when He spoke to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35). On this occasion Jesus referred to the evidence of prophecy and fulfillment. There are over 300 prophecies in the Old Testament scriptures, written centuries before the birth of Jesus that were fulfilled in the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus said to the two disciples walking toward the village of Emmaus “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory? The passage continues: “And beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the scriptures” (Acts 24:25-27 NASB).
The third time Jesus explicitly defended the faith was after His resurrection when He appeared to His disciples over a period of 40 days. The resurrection is the greatest miracle in the ministry of Christ on this earth. Acts 1:3 states “To those He also presented Himself alive, after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days” (NASB). Jesus gave them many convincing proofs. This further goes to show that Christianity is not a free standing truth claim but is supported by supernatural evidence that logically goes to show that Christ is the promised Messiah of Israel and the redeemer of all humanity.
We see in all three of these examples that Jesus offered supernatural evidence to make His case. Supernatural evidence such as miracles, fulfilled prophecies and the resurrection happened in human history and were witnessed by multitudes of individuals and written down in the New Testament for future generations.
Those who attack Christianity inevitably come against the resurrection. They break their hammers on the anvil of the certainty of the resurrection.
Some additional evidence for the truth of the resurrection is the fact that most of the apostles and many early disciples were tortured and died at the hands of persecutors and showed that they would rather be tortured to death than deny the resurrection of Christ. The one apostle who lived to old age and died of natural causes was John. History tells us that even John was tortured at one point but was preserved through it.
If — as some claim — there was no resurrection and the apostles had stolen and hidden the body of Christ, the apostles would have known that the resurrection was a lie. While many people in history have been known to be willing to die for a lie, no one would ever be willing to die for a lie knowing that it was a lie. The apostles died violent deaths as witnesses of the resurrection because they knew it was TRUE!
The rapid spread of early Christianity was due to the evidence of miracles, fulfilled prophecies and the resurrection of Christ. The zeal of the apostles and the other disciples was because the apostles and disciples were eyewitnesses of the supernatural evidence. They had experiential knowledge of the truth of Christianity. Christianity is a logical and reasonable faith based on real facts that occurred in history. It is not mere philosophy, legend or fable.
The apostles were also gifted by God to perform miracles in their own ministries by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is no wonder then that Christianity grew to become the largest institution in the history of mankind and now has over two billion adherents.