One of my all time favorite books, “The Case for Christ,” is Lee Strobel’s personal testimony. He describes himself before Christ as a critical legal journalist for the Washington Post, an atheist, a heavy drinker, a self-seeking narcissist, full of rage and anger…and a seeker of pleasure in the moment.
One day his wife Lesley, an agnostic, met a downstairs neighbor, Linda, who grew to love Lesley unconditionally. As Linda built a relationship with Lesley, she shared her faith in Christ. Her actions were so different that it led Lesley to go to church with her one Sunday…where she met Christ. When Lesley returned home and told Lee of her newfound faith, the first thing he said he thought was, “This is the beginning of the end–divorce.”
As time went by, he WATCHED his wife Lesley change for the better to the point that she invited him to church where he heard, Bill Hybel speak on “Basic Christianity”…which sounded believable but he still didn’t believe. But it did set him in motion on a two year road to disprove that Jesus was God’s Son who actually rose from the dead.
Through his two year travels and extensive journalistic expertise, he not only wrote a book on the Four E’s of Jesus, but he gave his life to Christ. Today, through his faith, his daughter and son, now grown, know Jesus. His daughter writes Christian fiction books and children’s books. His son has a PH.D in theology, teaches as a professor and leads college students on how to lead others to Christ.
I love Lee’s message on the Four E’s of Easter…”If Christ had not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” 1 Corinthians 15:17
1. Execution–“Jesus’ death as a consequence of crucifixion is indisputable.” ~Atheist Scholar Gerd Ludemann
Without an execution there is NO RESURRECTION. The quote above is given because even scholars of history who don’t believe in Jesus concur that Jesus died on the cross. He also said there are five ancient sources outside of Bible-believing scholars that validate Jesus’ death on the cross.
2. Early–a legend has been proven to take decades to evolve, at least 250 years–Christian and non-Christian scholars agree on this. The EARLY accounts of Jesus’ death and resurrection are a “creed,” not a legend. The accounts were written within 5 to 6 years of the cross. 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance; that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the twelve. After that he appeared to more than 500 of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all apostles, and last of all he appears to me also.”
Remember, Paul, who used to be Saul, who killed Christians and James, the half brother of Jesus, was a skeptic while Jesus was on earth…but believed after he saw Jesus resurrected. James D. G. Dunn, a famous historian, writes this, “The tradition, we can be entirely confident, was formulated as tradition within months of Jesus’ death.” Demonstrating it was not a legend.
3. Empty TOMB–All historical records, Christian and Non-Christian, agree Jesus’ tomb was empty and unexplainable even by non-believing eyewitnesses such as the guards. Opponents of Jesus never ever said, “The tomb wasn’t empty.” They did try to reason and explain it just like a kid who has not done his homework would say, “The dog ate it.” The one thing for sure…is that the kid doesn’t have his homework…just like the fact that the tomb was EMPTY. Everyone agreed, followers and opponents of that time, that the tomb was EMPTY!
4. Eyewitnesses–over a period of time Jesus didn’t appear to just a few, He appeared to over 515 people to the point that the disciples all suffered greatly and gave their own lives…after their “eyewitness account of Jesus resurrection”. Today, there are at least nine ancient sources that proclaim the death and eyewitness accounts of Jesus being resurrected.
Upon completion of this two year study and putting his God-given talent of research and journalistic investigation into practice, Lee sat down with a yellow legal pad. He wrote out the T sheet of pro’s and con’s of “Did Jesus actual die and was He resurrected? Is Jesus the son of God?” The T-sheet was overwhelmingly a “YES”. As he opened the Bible and read John 1:12, “Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believe in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” He asked Jesus into his heart…on his knees in his bedroom. He realized he believed but he needed to get on his knees and RECEIVE and then he would BECOME.
As we approach Easter I want to ask a very important question:
Do you believe?
As Lee says, if you have reservations, “Do your homework.” Don’t be cynical. You can be skeptical, then you can research. Skeptical is different. It doesn’t come with a hard heart like being cynical does.
If you go on a pursuit to find Jesus, you will. The Bible is a great place to start…and Lee’s book, “The Case for Christ,” is fantastic. For the skeptic…Jesus is alive. He is resurrected and His word promises…IF you SEEK HIM…You will find Him!
In Matthew 28 we find the account of the resurrection of Jesus. The women had gone to the tomb and were greeted by an angel of the Lord. The angel pronounces the good news to the women. “And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you’” (Matthew 28:4-7).
He is risen. He is risen indeed!