In my first book I told you, Theophilus, about everything Jesus began to do and teach until the day he was taken up to heaven after giving his chosen apostles further instructions through the Holy Spirit. During the forty days after his crucifixion, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God. (Acts 1:1-3)
For forty days, Jesus appeared with the apostles, and proved to them that he was alive. The apostles evidently needed proof, and Jesus felt that he still needed to prove he was indeed resurrected. Those ideas resonated with me. If these eleven men needed proof, then is proof of Jesus’ authenticity such a bad thing?
As these forty days of prayer began, I watched The Case for Christ, a documentary based upon the book, and research of Lee Strobel. Before watching it, though, I was indeed a skeptic of the film, and was, for a long time, a skeptic of Strobel’s works, wondering how one man could turn from an atheist to a believer, and then make book after film after book, probably for a good profit. That is, until I read his book The Case for the Real Jesus two years ago.
That one book, other than the bible, fed my desire to know. Written well, recording interview after interview of very prominent theological scholars, I have since read the book twice. I am an historian, as well as a minister, and the very idea of historical evidence is something I treasure. My childhood consisted of a very conservative theological perspective, and through that teaching, the search for historical evidence was pointless. It was assumed that if you needed historical evidence, then your faith was merely a shadow of what it needed to be, and any want of evidence proved a weakness of faith. So reading information on the historicity of Christ was, and still is, breathtaking to me.
And, upon a re-reading of Acts 1, the apostles themselves needed assurances of the physicality of Jesus. They needed proof, even after everything their eyes witnessed for the three years of their shared time with Jesus.
Be warned, though. If you decided to venture into the area of Christ’s historicity, you will be challenged. The works of Strobel are good, but his critics are fierce, and, at times, convincing. And do not be discouraged by the need to see God work in these forty days. Focused prayer gives rise to bearing witness to the hand of God. Ancient Jewish mystics even prayed with their eyes open, in hopes of seeing God work, even as they prayed.
So do not be discouraged by the need to know if Jesus is who he claims he is. Even his apostles needed proof.