(Pictured above is an image of the Shroud of Turin, located at the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, Italy. It is claimed that this cloth (bearing a negative image) covered the bloodied body of Jesus, leaving an imprint of his figure, face, and marks of his sufferings the day of his crucifixion)
After reading this article from History.com (fairly influenced by agnostic biblical scholar, Bart Ehrman) in preparation for their release of a docuseries on Jesus called “Jesus: His Life”, I find myself encouraged. I am thankful that God has provided many evidences, even beyond the testimony of Scripture itself, to corroborate the existence of the man, Jesus Christ. No matter how much someone desires to ignore the supernatural claims of Jesus testified to in the New Testament, presuppose the impossibility of miracles, or only seriously consider anti-supernatural interpretations regarding evidence of Jesus Christ and His life and ministry, they will always be confronted with His existence and the unquestionable and powerful influence on the world that He has had.
Furthermore, they are confronted with the reality that His existence is surrounded by evidence showing that, indeed, something was really going on in those days to cause a small group of primarily average Jewish men and women to follow after Him as the risen (crucified and resurrected) promised Messiah of the Old Testament, to cause them to share a message of forgiveness through belief in Jesus as the risen Lord (in whom the fullness of God was pleased to dwell (Colossians 1:19)), and for many of them to die horrible deaths for those same beliefs at the hands of the governing authorities and those they risked their lives to share this truth with. The apostle Paul testified to the church in Corinth that:
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-14, NASB)
It is statements such as these that the skeptic must consider with intellectual honesty. Why would someone like Paul, a former persecutor of the Church, call out the absurdity of Christian claims without the reality of a resurrected Jesus and then continue to propagate that He saw Christ risen? And is it meaningless that there were many of the at least 500 other witnesses (not including apostles) of whom his readership could literally go talk to regarding their experience of seeing Jesus alive after his death?
The skeptic is also confronted with the fact that, with such hostility in ancient times toward these “Christians” (a derogatory term meaning “little Christ’s”) and the apparent “rationale” for them to abandon such an effort, the beliefs that they proclaimed were apparently such rich truths that they were willing to lose their own lives for them. And furthermore, they must consider that these supposed “outdated” beliefs not only flourished in ancient times, but still do to this day.
They are also confronted with the reality that being a historical person, they must be willing to seriously consider Jesus’s words. And of those words, they must consider the same question Jesus asked His disciples, being in itself the pinnacle of God’s purpose in sending His Son. Jesus asked His disciples:
“”Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 16:13-17, NASB).
The truth if the matter is that God’s love won’t allow for even the anti-supernatural skeptic, who has ears to hear and eyes to see, to not be confronted with His Words and the sacrifice of His Son for the forgiveness of sins. There is a decision of faith that must be made in that moment of confrontation: To either have faith in God and the testimony of His Word revealed through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, or to have faith in the anti-supernatural presuppositions of mankind, which are tainted by the very sinful and rebellious nature that God sent His Son to rescue us from.