by Rob Lundberg
Every so often I will hear a someone say that we cannot believe the gospel accounts because they are “made up fairy tales” or “fabricated myths” or “legends.” But are the gospels really all that? Or are they authentic historical narratives? Let me share with you four problems about these objections that will help you see that the gospel writers were sharing eyewitness testimony.
Problem #1: Why didn’t the early church make the people and adherents more heroic in their writings? What we see instead is the followers of Jesus misunderstanding Him, doubting what He is saying. We find them questioning Him on His teaching in parables, falling asleep while He was praying at Gethsemane, and finally fleeing from Him when He is arrested and taken to trial before His crucifixion. What writer would make themselves look dimwitted? This is embarrassing testimony number one.
Problem #2: To open this problem let me ask a question. Who wrote the gospels? Jewish men in a male dominated culture wrote the gospels. You see, one of the easiest things to overlook is that the culture was that it was male dominated culture. These Jewish men are actually made into a laughing stock as Jesus appears first to women after His resurrection before He appears to the disciples.
That’s right, the women were the first eyewitnesses to Jesus’ resurrection. Also if you look at the gospels, the women in the gospels believed more readily than men and in particular the apostles. If you look around the world today, in many cultures, women are believing more readily than men (i.e., India). This is embarrassing testimony number two.
Problem #3: The disciples of Jesus were not too smart. You say what? They were really smart! Oh really. We have the words of the disciples showing their foolishness in tact. Take for example Peter’s denial. Why would the early church, which Peter was a part of, preserve this story? Take another example of Peter’s “foot in mouth” participation.
You have Peter in the gospels making a great confession of who Jesus by stating to Jesus, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!” Jesus commends him for his profession of faith.
Shortly after this great confession, Jesus tells of his future arrest, being handed over to sinful men and being beaten and crucified, but also three days later rising from the dead. Right after these words by Jesus, Peter blurts out “God forbid it Lord!” Jesus responds to this with “Get behind Me Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests but man’s!” Jesus calls Peter Satan and a stumbling block (Matthew 16:21-23)
If the early church were making things up, or these were fables and legends, why is this and other embarrassing reports like it in there? It could be that these are actual historical account and the gospel writers have integrity. This would make it embarrassing testimony number three!
Problem #4: Probably the biggest problem for accusers saying that the disciples (gospels writers) made up the gospel accounts is the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus. You see, if Jesus did not die on the cross and if He did not rise from the dead, why did the disciples not escape the death of a martyr?
Why did the disciples produce the body of Jesus so as to escape their own deaths?
If you really think about it, Jesus could have made an irrefutable claim. He could have said, “You kill Me, and I will raise spiritually from the dead.” Let this sink in for just a moment. Can anyone refute that? No! But is that what the gospel writers record what Jesus said? Check out John 2:18-21 for starters. He stated that He would rise bodily from the dead!
How did the disciples die? The disciples were martyrs dying brutal deaths (crucifixion, even crucified upside down, drawn and quartered, beheaded, dragged behind horses in the streets, skin removal, speared, thrown off of a building, stoned, et al). Alright, we could call this embarrassing testimony number four but. . .
All of this could have been avoided if they only recanted, and called Caesar “Lord” or “God”, or told their torturers where they hid the body of Jesus. But there was no body hidden, but only an empty grave.
Not even the enemies of Jesus could produce the body! The body is nowhere to be found because the grave is empty, and Jesus is risen. And He will give eternal life to all who will call upon His name and believe in Him as their only means for redemption, repenting of their sins and following Him in faith, until the end.
Rob is a blogger, writer and public speaker on a mission to equip the believer to think and articulate what they believe and to communicate the message of the gospel to a confused culture in a confused, chaotic, “brave new world.”
He is available to come and speak to your church, college club, or group. Find out what people are saying. If you would like to book Rob for a speaking event, you can do so by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org