A number of years ago, while working in my garage, I accidentally splashed a chemical in my eyes. My eyes weren’t seriously damaged, and in the emergency room a nurse washed my eyes out. Nothing serious happened from it; unless you realize what an opportunity I was given.
Once the nurse found out that I was a minister, she expressed regret that she found it difficult to believe the claims of Christianity, telling me that she was a lapsed Catholic. I informed her that she could talk to the eyewitnesses if she wanted to. Of course, this was not exactly true, but I continued the conversation by saying that if she were to open up the New Testament, she could read testimony by at least two men who were present for everything Jesus did.
Peter and John
The Apostles Peter and John assured readers then and now that their teachings were based on personal eyewitness accounts. In 2 Peter 1:16-18, the Apostle asserts that he was present when Jesus was transfigured on the mountain. Matthew 17:1-8 describes what happened. In this second of Peter’s letters, he brings this up to affirm that what he believes and has consistently taught wasn’t something he or anyone else made up.
The Apostle John provides his own testimony of being an eyewitness in 1 John 1:1 where he speaks of what he has heard, seen, and touched concerning the word of life. He is, of course, speaking of Jesus Christ, who is the light and life of the world as also described in The Gospel of John 1:1-4. When challenged by those who had criticized the Apostles for making up a myth, I can almost hear Peter and John say, “Don’t tell me I didn’t see what I saw.”
The Witness of Prophecy
As Peter goes on in 2 Peter, he also draws on the witness of prophecy. It has long been one of the assurances of Christianity that the Old Testament prophets spoke many things about the Messiah that were fulfilled in the life of Christ. In this section Peter says they were carried along by the Holy Spirit and did not dream up these things out of their imaginations. Jesus pointed Old Testament scriptures to assure the Apostles that his death and resurrection were part of the plan for salvation, Luke 24:44-46.
The first two chapters of the Gospel of Matthew not only illustrate the significance of fulfilled scripture but challenge any notion that because Jesus knew of these things, he made sure that he fulfilled them. Matthew describes five things associated with the first several years of Christ’s life in these two chapters alone. From the virgin birth and Joseph’s dreams to the place of His birth to the flight to and from Egypt. Since Jesus was at most a toddler by the time all these events took place, critics need to come up with a better argument.
Reasons to Believe
I don’t know what happened to the nurse in the ER that day a number of years ago. My witness was a simple attempt to get her to hear the eyewitnesses for herself; I hope she did. It’s the same eyewitness accounts that spread Christianity across the globe, and the ones we are called to believe. What reasons the Apostles could have had to perpetrate a story that got most of them persecuted and killed is another argument critics will need to establish.
In the meantime, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John make some amazing claims about what they saw: miracles of healing, walking on water, raising people from the dead. We are thus confronted with a decision: was Jesus really God in the flesh as John 1:1-14 asserts? Read and decide for yourself. The eyewitnesses are waiting to “talk” to you.
© 2023 Robert T. Weber, The Lazarus Chronicles and Words Done Right LLC