Twenty-One Reasons to Believe in Jesus
1) Christ Is Someone To Know And Trust
Christ is more than a system, tradition, or belief. He is a Person who knows our needs, feels our pain, and sympathizes with our weakness. In exchange for our trust, He offers to forgive our sins, to intercede for us, and to bring us to His Father. He cried for us, died for us, and rose from the dead to show that He was all He claimed to be. Conquering death, He showed us that He can save us from our sins, live His life through us on earth, and then bring us safely to heaven. He offers Himself as a gift to anyone who will trust Him ( John 20:24-31).
2) A Public Execution Assured His Death
During the Jewish Feast of Passover, Jesus was swept away by an angry crowd into a Roman hall of justice. As He stood before Pilate, the governor of Judea, religious leaders accused Jesus of claiming to be the king of the Jews. The crowd demanded His death. Jesus was beaten, whipped, and sentenced to a public execution. On a hill outside of Jerusalem, He was crucified between two criminals. Brokenhearted friends and mocking enemies shared in His deathwatch. As the Sabbath neared, Roman soldiers were sent to finish the execution. To quicken death, they broke the legs of the two criminals. But when they came to Jesus they did not break His legs, because from experience they knew He was already dead. As a final precaution, however, they thrust a spear into His side. It would take more than resuscitation for Him to ever trouble them again.
3) A High Official Secured The Gravesite
The next day, religious leaders again met with Pilate. They said Jesus had predicted He would rise in 3 days. To assure that the disciples could not conspire in a resurrection hoax, Pilate ordered the official seal of Rome to be attached to the tomb to put graverobbers on notice. To enforce the order, soldiers stood guard. Any disciple who wanted to tamper with the body would have had to get by them, which wouldnt have been easy. The Roman guards had good reason for staying alert--the penalty for falling asleep while on watch was death.
4) In Spite Of Guards, The Grave Was Found Empty
On the morning after the Sabbath, some of Jesus followers went to the grave to anoint His body. But when they arrived, they were surprised at what they found. The huge stone that had been rolled into place over the entrance to the tomb had been moved, and Jesus body was gone. As word got out, two disciples rushed to the burial site. The tomb was empty except for Jesus burial wrappings, which were lying neatly in place. In the meantime, some of the guards had gone into Jerusalem to tell the Jewish officials that they had fainted in the presence of a supernatural being that rolled the stone away. And when they woke up, the tomb was empty. The officials paid the guards a large sum of money to lie and say that the disciples stole the body while the soldiers slept. They assured the guards that if the report of the missing body got back to the governor they would intercede on their behalf.
5) Many People Claimed To Have Seen Him Alive
About AD 55, the apostle Paul wrote that the resurrected Christ had been seen by Peter, the 12 apostles, more than 500 people (many of whom were still alive at the time of his writing), James, and himself (1 Corinthians 15:5-8). By making such a public statement, he gave critics a chance to check out his claims for themselves. In addition, the New Testament begins its history of the followers of Christ by saying that Jesus "presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by [the apostles] during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God" (Acts 1:3).
6) His Apostles Were Dramatically Changed
When one of Jesus inner circle defected and betrayed Him, the other apostles ran for their lives. Even Peter, who earlier had insisted that he was ready to die for his teacher, lost heart and denied that he even knew Jesus. But the apostles went through a dramatic change. Within a few weeks, they were standing face to face with the ones who had crucified their leader. Their spirit was like iron. They became unstoppable in their determination to sacrifice everything for the one they called Savior and Lord. Even after they were imprisoned, threatened, and forbidden to speak in the name of Jesus, the apostles said to the Jewish leaders, "We ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29). After they were beaten for disobeying the orders of the Jewish council, these once-cowardly apostles "did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ" (Acts 5:42).
7) Witnesses Were Willing To Die For Their Claims
History is full of martyrs. Countless men and women have died for their beliefs. For that reason, it is not that significant to point out that the first disciples were willing to suffer and die for their faith. But it is significant that while many will die for what they believe to be the truth, few if any will die for what they know to be a lie. That psychological fact is important because the disciples of Christ did not die for deeply held beliefs about which they could have been honestly mistaken. They died for their claims to have seen Jesus alive and well after His resurrection. They died for their claim that Jesus Christ had not only died for their sins but that He had risen bodily from the dead to show that He was like no other spiritual leader who had ever lived.
8) Jewish Believers Changed Their Day Of Worship
The Sabbath day of rest and worship was basic to the Jewish way of life. Any Jew who did not honor the Sabbath was guilty of breaking the law of Moses. Yet Jewish followers of Christ began worshiping with Gentile believers on a new day. The first day of the week, the day on which they believed Christ had risen from the dead, replaced the Sabbath. For a Jew, it reflected a major change of life. The new day, along with the Christian conversion rite of baptism, declared that those who believed Christ had risen from the dead were ready for more than a renewal of Judaism. They believed that the death and resurrection of Christ had cleared the way for a new relationship with God. The new way was based not on the law, but on the sin-bearing, life-giving help of a resurrected Savior.
9) Although It Was Unexpected, It Was Clearly Predicted
The disciples were caught off guard. They expected their Messiah to restore the kingdom to Israel. Their minds were so fixed on the coming of a messianic political kingdom that they didnt anticipate the events essential to the salvation of their souls. They must have thought Christ was speaking in symbolic language when He kept saying over and over that it was necessary for Him to go to Jerusalem to die and be resurrected from the dead. Coming from one who spoke in parables, they missed the obvious until after it was all over. In the process, they also overlooked the prophet Isaiahs prediction of a suffering servant who would bear the sins of Israel, being led like a lamb to the slaughter, before God "prolong[ed] His days" (Isaiah 53:10).
10) It Was A Fitting Climax To A Miraculous Life
While Jesus hung on a Roman cross, crowds mocked Him. He helped others, but could He help Himself? Was the miracle suddenly coming to an end? It seemed like such an unexpected ending for someone who began His public life by turning water into wine. During His 3-year ministry, He walked on water; healed the sick; opened blind eyes, deaf ears, and tongue-tied mouths; restored crippled limbs; cast out demons; stilled a violent storm; and raised the dead. He asked questions wise men couldnt answer. He taught profound truths with the simplest of comparisons. And He confronted hypocrites with words that exposed their coverup. If all this was true, should we be surprised that His enemies didnt have the last word?
11) It Fits The Experience Of Those Who Trust Him
The apostle Paul wrote, "If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you" (Romans 8:11). This was the experience of Paul, whose heart was dramatically changed by the resurrected Christ. It is also the experience of people all over the world who have "died" to their old ways so that Christ can live His life through them. This spiritual power is not evident in those who try to add belief in Christ to their old life. It is seen only in those who are willing to "die" to their old life to make room for the rule of Christ. It is apparent only in those who respond to the overwhelming evidence for Christs resurrection by acknowledging His lordship in their heart.
12) A Virgin Conceived
If Mary was telling the truth, her baby had no human father. She claimed an angel appeared to her and told her she would conceive a son by Gods Spirit. Then he said that this child, whom she was to name Jesus, would be the Son of God. If Mary was lying, the night of Jesus birth was not holy, and the only thing that was silent was the truth. But how can we know? How can we take seriously the kind of story that usually deserves laughs of disbelief? The answer is in what followed. If there were no witnesses and no evidence, we could ignore Marys claims. If her sons life was the same as any other life, her claim of a virgin birth would be the easiest of all stories to dismiss.
13) An Old Testament Prophet Predicted A God-Man
What we do know is that in the seventh century BC, the prophet Isaiah made predictions about a Servant of the Lord who would rule the earth in the last days. He described a day in which all of the earth would be at peace and all the nations would go up to Jerusalem to worship God (Isaiah 2). Isaiah announced, "Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (9:6). Isaiah also gave a mysterious prophecy that was only partially fulfilled in his lifetime. It began, "The Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel" (7:14). Immanuel means "God with us."
14) Angels Announced The Birth
In the shepherds fields outside of Bethlehem, a group of witnesses formed a bridge between Isaiah and Mary. According to New Testament records (Luke 2:8-14), terrified Jewish shepherds were visited by an angel who announced the birth of Israels long-awaited Messiah. The angel said, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger" (vv.10-12). As the shepherds told it, the sky was filled with angels praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men in whom He is well pleased" (v.14).
15) A Sign Appeared In The Sky
According to the New Testament, a light in the sky gave additional credibility to Mary. A group of Magi from the East followed a "starlike sign" to the Jewish town of Bethlehem. What they found was a child they believed to be the long-awaited Jewish Messiah. For hundreds of years Old Testament prophets had been speaking of "a Star" and "a Scepter" that would come out of Israel (Numbers 24:17). The Old Testament also predicted a ruler of Israel who would come out of Bethlehem, a ruler "whose goings forth are from old, from everlasting" (Micah 5:2).
16) The Time Was Right
Many believe that the Magi who worshiped Jesus after His birth came from the region of Babylon. If so, they could have had access to the prophecy of a Jewish prophet named Daniel. While in exile in Babylon 400 years earlier, Daniel had a vision that allows for the calculation of the arrival of the Jewish Messiah. According to Daniels vision, from the command to rebuild the temple (458 BC or 444 BC), 69 "sevens" would be followed by the arrival and death of Messiah (Daniel 7:13-14; 9:24-27). Some believe this prophecy predicted the exact number of days until Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
17) Jesus Claimed To Be Equal With God
Some have suggested that Jesus never claimed for Himself what His followers claimed for Him. Yet the commotion that surrounded His life can be best explained by His repeated claim to be one with God. John, one of the Gospel writers, quoted Jesus as saying, "Before Abraham was, I AM" (8:58). (In Exodus 3:14, the name I AM was used by God to identify Himself to Moses.) John also quoted Jesus as saying, "I and My Father are One" (10:30) and "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him" (14:7). According to the Gospels, Jesus said that to love or hate Him, or to receive or reject Him, was to love or hate, receive or reject His Father in heaven.
18) His Friends Worshipped Him
When Thomas, one of Jesus disciples, saw the resurrected Christ, he declared, "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28). Years later, Jesus close friend and follower John wrote, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. . . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:1-3,14). Another friend, Peter, in one of his letters to the early church, addressed his readers as "those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:1).
19) Jesus Enemies Accused Him Of Blasphemy
Jesus friends may have wanted to believe He was more than a man, but His enemies did not. The religious leaders of Israel were outraged to think that the same man who accused them of being hypocritical, blind leaders of the blind, would also claim to forgive sins, would speak of God as His Father, and would even say that He was one with God. On more than one occasion the leaders of Israel picked up stones to kill Jesus, saying, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God" (John 10:33).
20) Jesus Miracles Supported His Claims
Jesus miracles recorded in the New Testament were more than wonders. They were signs. He did them to encourage men and women to believe in Him for everlasting life. He healed a crippled man to affirm His right to forgive sins. He fed thousands of people with a little boys lunch, setting the stage for His claim to be the "bread of life." He walked on water, stilled angry seas, healed the sick, restored paralyzed limbs, gave sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf, and even raised from the dead an embalmed man by the name of Lazarus. One reason Jesus performed miracles was to support His claim to be God. The apostle John wrote, "Truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name" (John 20:30-31).
21) His Departure Was Greater Than His Arrival
Many people down through history have claimed to be gods. Yet only one man has been willing to die for the sins of others. Only one has risen from the dead to prove that He is the Son of God. According to the New Testament, after Jesus voluntarily gave His life on an executioners cross, He appeared to His closest disciples and more than 500 other followers for a period of 40 days (1 Corinthians 15:5-8). The eyewitnesses were so convinced of His resurrection that they were willing to suffer and die for their claims. His disciples said that He showed them His scarred hands and feet, walked and talked with them, and even ate with them. Then while they met with Him on the Mount of Olives, He gave them His last words and ascended into the clouds. With a departure more spectacular than His arrival, Jesus left us with a better understanding of the announcement of the angel who said, "There is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:11).