Free Theme Days – Evidence for the Risen Jesus
- Peter was crucified upside down, saying that he did not die in a way similar to his Lord.
- Andrew, like his brother Peter, was also crucified.
- James, the Son of Zebedee, was put to death with the sword by King Herod in Judea. (Acts 12:1-2)
- John, the Son of Zebedee, dies in exile, but of natural causes at an older age.
- Philip was put to death by a Roman Proconsul in Asia Minor after converting the Proconsul’s wife.
- Thomas traveled to India and was killed by four soldiers with spears.
- Matthew was stabbed to death in Ethiopia after bringing the faith to the people.
- James of Alphaeus was crucified while preaching in the southern parts of Egypt.
- Jude/Thaddeus was beheaded in Beirut.
- Simon the Zealot was killed after refusing to offer a sacrifice to an idol in Beirut.
- Bartholomew was flayed alive and beheaded.
- Matthias was burned to death.
- Paul, (this is a bit of a cheat, as he wasn’t one of “the Twelve,” but go with me) after appealing to Caesar and traveling to Rome, was killed by the Emperor by beheading.
Free Theme Days – Evidence for the Risen Jesus
Much of what we believe in the Christian faith is taken, understandably, on faith. However, if I had to give one story that almost shuts down the need for faith and instead have PROOF about Jesus and the Resurrection, it would be the story of Saul/Paul and his conversion in Acts 9.
Up until the point in Acts 9, Saul has been persecuting the Christian faith. They were most likely being stoned or thrown in prison for trumped up charges. Stephen was accused of blasphemy and he was stoned to death. We all know he spoke no words of blasphemy, because the truth is not blasphemous, but that is where the Jewish leaders were.
But in Acts 9, something amazing happens, Saul gets knocked off a horse, goes down, hears the voice of a man who claimed to be Jesus, goes blind, and wanders into Damascus blind and healed by a Christian, one of the very people who he had just been persecuting.
Why does this count as proof for me?
1. Because it’s clear that Paul is not crazy. In a day and age where scholars doubt everything from the historical Moses to the historical Jesus, one would assume that when they agree on a traditional understanding, that counts for something. No scholar doubts that Paul wrote Romans. Ask for yourself, is Romans the work of a man out of his mind with guilt, that turned to follow Christ because he was driven to the small band he once hated out of a plagued conscience? There are parts of certain letters where we see Paul’s expressed sorrow (1 Corinthians 15:9, for example), and one could point to that as a case. But Romans! It’s a theological magnum opus! He is a man still gifted with all his intellect and faculties.
2. Could Paul be lying, hoping to gain wealth or fame off this new movement? We will go into this kind of theory even more in depth tomorrow, but Paul lost everything by getting on board this Jesus movement. He was persecuted, beaten, battered, and abused (2 Corinthians 11), and this after he had everything he ever wanted. He was the top dog of Judaism (Philippians 3) but he turned away from all those things so that he may follow Christ.
I encourage you to consider the persecutor-turned-evangelist Paul. What could cause a man rabidly dedicated to defending the faith of his ancestor and the honor of his God to so drastically change his tune and agree with those whom he persecuted?
For my part, it convinces me there is something going on with this Jesus movement, particularly that the leader must still be alive.
So, do you believe Jesus is alive?
FREE THEME DAYS: Evidence for the Risen Jesus
The twenty first chapter of the Gospel of John is a fascinating chapter.
Far be it from me to correct the story-telling ability of the author, but why end here? It feels like the story was wrapped up with a nice bow when the author wrote the words we looked at yesterday. Then, almost as if the author forgot a couple stories, he tags on these last couple bits. My fascination with the narration, however, does not diminish what it teaches. Of course, there is both an author and an Author, and so much is given to us in this last chapter.
What I want to focus in on, though, is what happens with Peter? Peter, Peter, Peter. He walks on water, but he doubts. He asks Jesus to wash his whole body when he only needs his feet taken care of. He says “I’ll die for you” but denies him three times. What are we gonna do with Peter?
Of course, you and I are JUST LIKE Peter.
I’ve denied Jesus.
I had my doubts after a huge moment of success, when I “walked on water.”
I put my foot so far in my mouth my toe tickled by tonsils.
So the question is not, “What are we gonna do with Peter?” The question is, “What is Jesus gonna do with Peter?” because that will let us know what Jesus is gonna do with us.
And the answer is exciting.
He makes us better.
He finds Peter and the other disciples fishing, and after helping them perform a miracle, Peter swims to shore. While ashore, Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?”
Every time, Peter says “Yes!”
And Jesus responds with “Feed my lambs.” “Shepherd my sheep.” “Feed my sheep.”
When a person fails to live up to the standard Jesus sets, Jesus forgives and works with us. We look at one of the most flawed characters in the New Testament and see, time and again, his failures, his misunderstandings, his sins. But because Peter trusted Jesus and wanted to follow him, Jesus doesn’t give up on Peter. Jesus lets him know that he will be with him, even in the difficult days ahead. He gives him the power and ability to lead, and Peter becomes one of the leaders in the church. He expands the mission of the church beyond Jews and to the Gentiles. He trains other Pastors/Shepherds in how to care for the people of God. (See 1 Peter 5.)
The next time you wonder “Am I useless? What can God do with me?” look to the life of Peter. Take encouragement in the beautiful truth that, if we trust and love Jesus, or even WANT to trust and love him, he will not let us go. He will fight for us, care for us, and ultimately, he will change us into the kind of person God wants us to be.