Have you ever asked the question, or been asked, “Why should I believe in Jesus?” What answer did you receive or give? Many Christians don’t have a lot of strong evidence for their beliefs. While salvation is based on faith, it doesn’t have to be blind faith. In fact, often the more informed we become the stronger our faith becomes.
What strong evidence is there for Jesus – that he is who the Bible says he is.
1. Prophecy Fulfilled by Jesus
Scholars believe that there are more than 300 Old Testament prophecies about Jesus. These prophecies are so specific, that it is statistically impossible that Jesus could fulfill a few of them, let alone all of them, and not be who he said he was.
There are 4 categories of prophecy about Jesus:
- Jesus’ birth
- Jesus’ ministry
- Jesus’ death and resurrection
- Jesus’ role as the head of the church
Prophecy about Jesus’ Birth:
PROPHECY: Isaiah 7:14 says, ‘Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.’ (NIV)
FULFILLMENT: Luke 1:35 says, ‘The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”’ (NIV)
Prophecy about Jesus’ Ministry
Jesus came to destroy Satan and his work.
PROPHECY: Genesis 3:15 says, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (NIV)
FULFILLMENT: 1 John 3:8 says, “The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” (NIV)
Prophecy about Jesus’ Death & Resurrection
PROPHECY: Isaiah 50:3-6 says, “I clothe the heavens with darkness and make sackcloth its covering. The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed. The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears; I have not been rebellious, I have not turned away. I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting.” (NIV)
FULFILLMENT: Matthew 27:28-31 says, “They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.” (NIV)
Prophecy about Jesus’ Role in the Church
God promised to raise up a faithful priest.
PROPHECY: 1 Samuel 2:35 says, “I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who will do according to what is in my heart and mind. I will firmly establish his priestly house, and they will minister before my anointed one always.” (NIV)
FULFILLMENT: Hebrews 2:17 says, “For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.” (NIV)
The Messiah will usher in a New Covenant.
PROPHECY: Jeremiah 31:31 says, “The day is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah.” (NLT)
FULFILLMENT: Matthew 26:27-28 says, “And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many.” (NLT)
2. Jesus Lived a Perfect Sinless Life
1 Peter 2:22 says, ‘He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.’ (ESV)
1 John 3:5 says, ‘And you know that Jesus came to take away sins, and there is no sin in him.’ (NLT).
2 Corinthians 5:21 says, ‘For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.’ (NLT).
No one could find fault in Jesus, and his enemies certainly tried.
Imagine someone famous trying to claim to be perfect in everyway. It wouldn’t be long before people tried to find dirt on them, and that evidence would be broadcasted everywhere. But no one ever could find any fault in Jesus.
Even those who won’t admit that he is God, believe that he is a wise and good teacher and even a messenger from God.
3. Jesus Proved that He was God by Performing Miracles
What do I mean by miracle? A miracle is a special act of God that disrupts the normal course of events. We tend to label many things as a “miracle”: an unexpected pregnancy, a baby born, an unexpected recovery from an illness, etc. Though God has his hand in these events, and they may be answered prayer, these are not miracles. These are events of providence: a display of God’s sovereign power.
Examples of miracles are the creation of the world, a parting of the red sea so that the Israelites could walk on dry ground, and the dead being raised to life.
Miracles display God’s power, and they communicate to mankind that God is very real and present.
People often think that the Bible is filled with miracles and that they occurred continuously. But miracles only occurred during three distinct periods of time: during the life of Moses, Elijah and Elisha, and Jesus and the apostles. Why? Because God was confirming his messengers and his message.
When true miracles happened, God was behind them. When Jesus performed miracles he was confirming that he was from God, and the people who witnessed them believed.
4. Those Closest to Him Believed in Him and Were Willing to Die for Him
Would you believe that one of your closest friends was God, unless he was? Even if you didn’t truly believe but went along with the ruse, would you be willing to die for a scam?
That’s what present day skeptics say of the disciples. They lived with Jesus and travelled with him everywhere he went. If anyone would know if he was not being truthful, they would. Historians and enemies of the Jews in Jesus’ time wrote about how the disciples and followers of Jesus truly believed.
The early church experienced extreme persecution shortly after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, and this would have been far too soon for Jesus to have become legend. They witnessed Jesus’ miracles, death, and resurrection, and they truly believed and died for it.
5. There is No One More Influential than Jesus Throughout History
Tom Holland, a historical journalist and agnostic, wrote a book called Dominion. In his book, he shows how Jesus and Christianity has completely saturated Western culture without us even knowing it.
I watched a talk he gave on this book, and it was clear, that although he was not a believer, he realized that Jesus was the most influential human being ever to live. His teachings have influenced every aspect of society such as the legal system, art, music, philosophy, and our very sense of morality.
Every religion talks about Jesus – and not as an enemy. Religious books, such as the Koran, speak of Jesus and Jesus is held in high esteem by religious leaders all over the world. Yet, Jesus spoke of no other religion or religious leader. He declared that he was the only way, the truth, and the life.
6. Jesus is the Only One to Declare the Solution for Sin
There is a problem of sin. Many people refuse to believe that sin exists, while acknowledging that people make bad choices – evil choices. Other people believe that a balance between good and evil in the individual’s life, leaning more towards good, is enough to progress into the afterlife unscathed. Some people believe that we can pay for our sin through penance and good works.
If you look closely at the tenets of all other religions, you will find that “salvation” is only possible if the individual does all the right things – and even then, they have no definitive certainty.
We Can’t Earn Our Salvation
I recently answered my front door to find a woman and her elderly father – two Jehovah’s Witnesses. Both were very kind, and we discussed the differences between our two beliefs. But after they left, I felt a sudden sadness for them, particularly for the frail elderly man at my door.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are taught that they must spend a certain amount of time going door to door sharing their message, to secure a place in either heaven or the new earth. I can’t imagine being that elderly man, near the end of my life, and still uncertain if I’d done enough.
But Jesus paid the price for our sin and vanquished the problem of sin for those who have faith. We cannot earn our way into heaven. That is a work and a price that only God could pay. And all we must do is receive it by believing.
7. There is Strong Evidence for the Resurrection
People used to try to claim that Jesus never existed, that he was a mythological figure or legend.
But no serious scholar, even an atheist, will deny that Jesus truly lived.
In fact, the majority of critical scholars agree that the following points about Jesus are true:
- Jesus died by Roman crucifixion.
- He was buried, most likely in a private tomb (This is significant because people who died by crucifixion were thrown into mass graves).
- Soon after Jesus died, his disciples had disbanded, were discouraged, and had lost hope (this is significant because the disciples were scattered, rather than plotting the greatest scam of all time).
- Jesus’ tomb was found empty soon after burial.
- The disciples had experiences that they believed were actual appearances of the risen Jesus.
- Due to these experiences, the disciples’ lives were completely transformed.
- Jesus’ resurrection was proclaimed very early in church history (it was not a story spread by legend long after the event).
- The disciples publicly testified and preached about the resurrection in Jerusalem, where Jesus was crucified and buried.
- The gospel message counted on the death and resurrection of Jesus (and many believed).
- Sunday (the day Jesus was risen) became the primary day for gathering and worshipping.
- James, the brother of Jesus, was a skeptic (he did not believe his own brother was the Messiah) but was converted when he believed he saw the risen Jesus.
- Saul of Tarsus (a former persecutor of Christians) later named Paul, became a Christian believer due to his experience that he believed was an appearance from the risen Jesus.
(Habermas, G. R. & Licona, M.R., The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus).
The New Testament accounts of Jesus were written early, within the lifetime of eyewitnesses. The writings were also corroborated by many non-Christian writers of that time.
If most critical scholars agree with the above 12 facts, and evidence shows that the New Testament is not a legend, a lie, or an embellishment, then we know beyond reasonable doubt that the New Testament writers recorded what they saw accurately.
The early church believed in Jesus, were transformed by him, and were willing to die for him.
Why Should You Believe in Jesus?
Why believe? Because of all the above and because your life has either already been transformed (if you believe), or it soon will be if you choose to believe.
When you have experienced a new life in Christ, there is no doubt. The Holy Spirit is given to all those who put their faith in Jesus, and he immediately begins his work to transform you.
Romans 8:16 also tells us that,
‘The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children’NIV
We receive affirmation from God himself, and though we may experience doubts from time to time, our salvation in Christ is always certain!
Person of Interest by J.W. Wallace. Relying on over two decades of investigative experience, Wallace provides the tools needed to investigate the claims of Christianity and make a convincing case for the truth of the Christian worldview.
The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus by Gary R. Habermas and Michael R. Licona. This is an accessible, comprehensive, and persuasive resource providing detailed evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. It also demonstrates how to share the material clearly, honestly, and definitively.