Everytime I return from Europe (which is only three times), I get into religion. It happened again after returning from Iceland. I found this book at Kroger's and read it, trying to make sense of God, Jesus and the Resurrection.
Lee Strobel is a legal journalist trained at Yale Law School. He brings his skepticism and his investigative methods to bear on Christianity in an effort to discover the truth. Who was Jesus? Was He the Son of God? Is the Resurrection fact or fiction? Were the miracles real?
Strobel acquires his faith through a series of interviews with Bible scholars. He is ultimately led to believe that the Jesus of history and the Jesus of faith are one and the same.
Strobel verifies the authorship of the gospels. Mark came first. Mark was an associate of Peter. He wrote his biography of Jesus based on Peter's eyewitness account. Peter was one of Jesus' inner circle.
Mark's gospel influenced Matthew and Luke. Matthew was a disciple. Luke was Paul's physician. The first three gospels show similarities and are known as the Synoptic gospels. John is different. It emphasizes Jesus' deity more. John was a disciple.
Luke also wrote the Book of Acts. He is regarded as a credible historian.
Strobel notes that the biographies of Jesus are different from modern biographies. Parts of Jesus' life are skimmed over or omitted. Mark concentrates on the last week of Christ's life.
Craig Blomberg, a Bible scholar interviewed by Strobel, suggests that the gospels were written sooner after the Crucifixion than generally assumed and that they are harmonious in spite of seeming contradictions.
The resurrected Jesus appeared to the apostle Paul on the road to Damascus. Paul's new Testament letters were written before the gospels. Paul attests to Jesus being the Messiah who died for our sins and rose from the grave. He writes that many people saw the resurrected Jesus. The idea is that Jesus' followers will be resurrected just as He was. Freedom from death is achieved through faith in Jesus.
We wonder why Jesus is called both the Son of God and the Son of Man. "Son of Man" harkens back to the Old Testament and the prophet Daniel.
Doubts linger. There is that enigmatic plea made by Jesus on the cross: "My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Words like sin, spirit, soul, holy and righteous are baffling. They feel out of place in our society.
How are miracles possible in a natural world. According to Bible scholars, they are an indication of the coming Kingdom of God. Strobel notes that the miracles take different forms. Some were psychosomatic such as driving out demons. Others were nature miracles like calming the sea and turning water into wine. And of course Jesus brought Lazarus back from the dead.
Even more telling than miracles was that Jesus took upon Himself to forgive sinners. Such authority was an indication that he was God. Jesus Himself was without sin.
What do we know of God? We know He is omnipotent or all-powerful. He is omnipresent or everywhere at once. He is omniscient or all-knowing. He is eternal and infinite. He is the uncreated Creator of all things. The New Testament implies that Jesus was all of these.
Strobel wonders if the darkness at the time of the Crucifixion is a literary device to stress its importance. He offers what he believes is "independent corroboration," that there was indeed a darkness at this time, either from a solar eclipse or by divine intervention.
If the Creator responsible for the speck or singularity which exploded as the Big Bang suspended the laws of nature for the special case of manifesting Himself or Itself in the space/time continuum, the Incarnation, miracles and Resurrection could be true.
The Biblical scholars interviewed consistently deny any contradictions. And all maintain that their scholarly pursuits have bolstered their faith.
That western civilization measures time based on the year that Jesus was born indicates the hold Christianity has on our culture.
We learn something about the Dead Sea Scrolls found in 1947. They deal with Jewish customs 250 B.C. - 68 A.D. They do no mention Jesus. What is the big deal if there is no mention of Jesus?
Strobel began his spiritual journey after his wife became a Christian. He was a legal affairs journalist at the Chicago Tribune. He was an atheist. He thought God was a mix of mythology, superstition and wishful thinking.
Strobel's critics maintain that he only interviewed Bible scholars, that he did not interview any scientists. It is as if he was looking for reason to believe.
He is a believer in Intelligent Design, that because cosmology has proven that the universe had a beginning, it must also have had a cause. And that cause is what we call God.
God is spirit in the Old Testament. He is flesh in the new Testament. Scholars maintain that Jesus fulfilled about 50 prophecies that were in the Old Testament.
Strobel said he resisted God because of the morality issue. He wanted to do what he wanted to do rather than bend his knee to Jesus.
Part 3 of the book deals with the Resurrection. Was the Resurrection a hoax? Did Joseph of Arimathia really bury Jesus in a tomb? Did the disciples steal His body? If there was a resurrection, was it physical or spiritual?
The gospels give different empty tomb accounts when it comes to details about the women. Only Matthew says there were guards at the tomb. Craig dismisses the discrepancies as secondary to the fact. He concludes that as long as it is possible that God exists, it is possible that he raised Jesus from the dead.
No one actually saw Jesus come back to life even though the Bible records post-Resurrection appearances. He appeared to His disciples and to Mary Magdalene. He appeared to James and Peter. He appeared to more than 500 people at once. He appeared to Paul.
Oddly enough, there are no appearances in Mark. Matthew and Luke contain some. John has the most.
Strobel questions whether the Resurrection was a legend which grew up over time. If Jesus' body was so brutally mutilated by the beating He received and by hanging on the cross, was it restored in mint condition? Why did the nail marks in His hands remain? Why did He eat? Would a man who has risen from the grave be hungry?
The Resurrection is the cornerstone of Christianity. If it happened, there is eternal life with God. According to the Bible, we must believe and receive God's grace. It is then that we become children of God.
Do I believe? Of course! I may never meet Lee Strobel in this life, but we will shake hands in heaven! Hallelujah! Thank you! Jesus!!
Jim ColyerBellaOnline ALERT: Raw URLs are not allowed in these forums for security reasons. Please use UBB code. If you don't know how to do UBB code just post here for help - we will help out!
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