Eye witness proof of Jesus

People often ask about the proof about the existence of Jesus, did you know that we have eye witness testimony of the existence of Jesus?  Yet why do so many people base their views on Jesus from writers from a different millennium?  Do they have factual evidence to reject the testimony of eye witnesses?  What are the claims of eye witness testimony in Scripture?

On Sunday night here in Melbourne, Channel Nine aired a television drama called “Howz that!”  It is a re-creation of the events surrounding the 1970’s split between the Australia Cricket Board and the cricket players, leading to the creation of World Series Cricket.  The interesting thing about the drama was the actors were portraying real people and their version of events.  In the week after the show aired most of the media were asking the real people about their version of events.  Whilst the show was exciting to viewers, nothing beats the testimony of a person who was actually there.

This got me thinking about the value of eye witness testimony to prove what happened at certain events.  At the same time I was reviewing commentary of 1 John and realised the weight of eye witness testimony in the Epistle.  So what is the eye witness testimony in the bible:

  • The Epistle of 1 John claims to be from an eye witness of the life and ministry of Jesus.  In the Epistle it claims that Jesus was the Son of God and really died on the Cross as an atoning sacrifice for sin.
  • The Second Letter of Peter, 2 Peter, also claims to be an eye witness to the life and ministry of Jesus.  Peter also claims to have seen and read the writings of Paul, and found them difficult to understand.  See 2 Peter 3:15-16.
  • The Gospel of Luke claims eye witness testimony of life and ministry of Jesus.  The author, Luke, also claims eye witness testimony of the life and ministry of Paul in the Acts of the Apostles.

Some modern writers claim that the Old Testimony prophesies about Jesus are so vague that they could mean anything.  Whilst I disagree with this perspective it still doesn’t change the fact that there are at least three written eye witness accounts of Jesus.  We also know that  these writings have been tested over the centuries and found to be as legitimate as any document from that period.  If you want more on this see the work of John Dickson from the Centre of Public Christianity.

So it really comes down to the question “why do people reject the eye witness testimony of Jesus and get their understanding of Jesus from a 20th Century atheist?”  We have to wonder if it is because the message of Jesus is too confronting for them.  Perhaps the message of Jesus demands too much change in the way these people live their life.  Just because a person don’t like a message doesn’t make it untrue.

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Two ways to start something new

At times we feel God is calling onto something new but we are not quite sure what it is.  Maybe you feel that you need a fresh idea, a new ministry, extra team members or a different job.  Here are two great stories about Peter in the Bible that teach us something about how God calls us to begin something new.

1. Jesus calls Peter to fish on the other side of the boat (John 21:6) – Peter and the Apostles have been fishing all night and haven’t caught anything.  They have gone back to their trade after the death of Jesus and they know these waters very well.  Yet an unknown man, Jesus, stands on the water’s edge and asks them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat.  They cast their nets on the other side of their boat and they catch so much fish that the nets begin to tear.

To me this is a story about beginning something new within the same boat.  Sometimes in ministry we have been tying something without much success but we don’t feel called to jump ship.  If we are to keep going within the same boat (a particular ministry or church) then perhaps we just need a new perspective for a fresh catch.  Perhaps there is a ministry within your church that has not been

producing but it is a good team of volunteers, then start something new with the same team.  This new ministry activity will produce fresh energy that could lead to growth.  Or maybe you have a good model for a ministry but you just need to inject some new people into the team.

Sometimes God calls us to stay in the boat but fish with a new perspective.

2. Jesus calls Peter to walk on water (Matt 14:27-29) – Peter and the Apostles are in a boat again, this time they are caught in a storm.  Peter is worried about their safety when suddenly Jesus comes to them walking on water.  Jesus calls Peter to get out of the boat and walk across the water to him.

Again in this story we have Jesus calling out instructions to Peter.  This time Jesus is calling Peter to leave his boat.  To me this is a story about having the faith to leave the comfort of what we know to follow Jesus into something new.

There are times in our ministry career where we have to leave our established boat (a particular ministry or church) to venture out into the unknown of a new ministry.  Just like Peter in this passage, we have to have the faith to take the initial step out into the unknown without knowing the outcome.

Sometimes God calls us to leave our boats behind and follow him.

In the first story there can be a certain amount of comfort because you know the ministry, the church or the team.  When God calls us to fish with a new perspective the challenge can be to inspire the team of volunteers to give it one more go.  The resistance can come from people who say “we have tried things before and it didn’t work.

In the second store there really is no comfort because we are called to step out into the unknown.  When God calls us out of the boat the challenge can be to have enough faith to take the first leap into the unknown.  The resistance can come from people who are scared by the uncertainty “what if we cant do it?”

Maybe it is time for you to begin something new but is it within the same organisation or are you called to leap out into the unknown.  Both stories show us that following God takes faith and courage to get something new a try.  Please leave a comment.