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Christmas: The Fairy Tale That Must Be True

In fact…Christ has been raised.

How can we be so sure? As Simon Greenleaf, distinguished professor of law at Harvard discovered, the evidence is overwhelming. Based on the evidence alone, it takes more faith not to believe that Jesus rose from the dead than it takes faith to believe it.

As the Apostle Peter once wrote, “We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty (2 Peter 1:16).

Eyewitnesses. Of his majesty.

What eyewitness evidence to Jesus’ resurrection was so convincing to the likes of Simon Greenleaf? There are several excellent books that have been written on the subject, including Who Moved the Stone? by an English journalist attorney named Frank Morrison. Also, The Case for Christ and The Case for Faith by Lee StrobelMore Than a Carpenter and Evidence That Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell, and Tim Keller’s The Reason for God are excellent, more detailed treatments of the subject.

It may be helpful to highlight a few of these so-called “evidences.”

One such evidence is the Apostle Paul’s undisputed claim that there were over five hundred, real-time eyewitnesses to the resurrection of Christ in the first century, “most of whom (were) still alive” (1 Corinthians 15:3-11). Another evidence is the historical record of how each of the twelve disciples of Jesus died. Judas, the one false disciple, hanged himself over guilt related to his betrayal of Jesus. Ten of the others died as martyrs because of their unwillingness to recant their Christian faith to show ultimate allegiance to the Roman Caesar. The disciple John, exiled to the island of Patmos for the same unwillingness to recant, died of old age as a prisoner for Jesus. With this historic record in mind, Josh McDowell wrote the following in More Than a Carpenter:

If the Resurrection had not happened, obviously the disciples would have known it. I can find no way that these particular men could have been deceived. Therefore they not only would have died for a lie—here’s the catch—they would have known it was a lie. It would be hard to find a group of men anywhere in history who would die for a lie if they knew it was a lie.

Other evidence for Christianity includes the countless lives over the centuries that have been changed. In a candid interview about his Christian faith, Bono issued a challenge to his skeptical interviewer with these words:

Either Christ was who He said He was the Messiah or a complete nutcase. I mean, we’re talking nutcase on the level of Charles Manson…This man was strapping himself to a bomb, and had “King of the Jews” on his head, and, as they were putting him up on the Cross, was going: OK, martyrdom, here we go. Bring on the pain! I can take it. I’m not joking here. The idea that the entire course of civilization for over half of the globe could have its fate changed and turned upside-down by a nutcase, for me, that’s farfetched.

Bono’s point is that the best case for Christianity is the lives that have been changed by Jesus.

Liars becoming more honest, crooks returning what they have stolen, anxious and dying people finding peace, cowardly and fearful people finding courage, hurtful people asking forgiveness from those they have hurt, bodies wasting away as the souls who inhabit those bodies become more alive, business people doing the less profitable thing because it is the right thing, aimless people finding meaning in their lives, spouses staying committed to each other through the hard and dry seasons, addicts becoming sober, adulterers becoming chaste, pregnant mothers continuing their pregnancies knowing that they are carrying a child with Down Syndrome, rejected and unappreciated parents persisting in unconditional love toward their straying, entitled children. These are only a few examples of how the Jesus Christ of Christmas and Resurrection changes people.

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Scott Sauls is senior pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tennessee, and is the author of several books including his latest, Irresistible Faith. He also writes weekly at scottsauls.com.