History’s Mystery Week 4
“I am going to use 4 historical facts so strongly attested historically that nearly every scholar that studies the subject agrees, even the skeptical ones”
Fact 1: Jesus lived (not a myth) and died by Crucifixion.
Fact 2: Jesus’ disciples believed he rose from the dead and appeared to them.
They claimed it and believed it. They were in a position to know if it was true and they suffered and died claiming it. No one dies for a lie.
Fact 3: Paul, an enemy of the church, was suddenly changed.
Some of you may say, “of course his disciples believed that! ” So facts 3 and 4 give us evidence that people outside the 12 were converting. (Acts 6:7- Pharisee convert)
So if you run into someone that says the 11 disciples conspired or hallucinated or were deceived, or if you have doubts that maybe they were mistaken, these facts will help you.
First fact to consider- An Enemy converts.
Enemy testimony is interesting because it shows us that people who were not inclined to believe or be emotionally connected to Jesus still had encounters with a physical resurrected Jesus. They would not be inclined to hallucinate or convert.
Paul claims to us that he encountered the resurrected Jesus. Before his encounter, he radically opposed Jesus, but changed in a moment.
Conversion- Most of us convert believes because we like a message that we heard from a secondary source. Paul didn’t hear it from a secondary source. His claim was that he heard it from Jesus. He did not convert because a Christian witnessed to him. It was an unlikely conversion.
Luke and Paul both describe Paul traveling to Damascus to actively persecute the church when he converted. His own words talk about this with shame.
12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. 13 For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. (Galatians 1:12-13 esv)
Both Luke and Paul attest that the early believers were uneasy with Paul immediately following his conversion.
- Suffering is evidence of belief, which is powerful if the conversion was 1st hand.
- Did Paul suffer?
- Sources that confirm his conversion:
- Luke, Paul, Clement, Polycarp, Tertullian, Dionysius of Corinth, and Origen
Fact # 4: James, A skeptic of Jesus, suddenly converted.
A skeptic who knew Jesus
The Gospels says that Jesus had four brothers, James, Joseph, Judas, Simon. Plus several sisters. The Roman historian Josephus confirms that James was the brother of Jesus.
James the skeptic:
– Gospels (unflattering testimony)
Mark 3:20 “Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. 21 And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.”
John 7:2-6, “2 Now the Jews’ Feast of Booths was at hand. 3 So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. 4 For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” 5 For not even his brothers believed in him.
– Early creeds report the appearance of Jesus to James (1 Corinthians 15)
– Paul and Luke (Acts) Identify James as the leader in the church.
Did he suffer for his beliefs?
– Martyrdom (he was in a position to know)
– Hegessipius (via Eusibius)
– Clement of Alexandria (via Eusibius)
Was it a hallucination?
U.S. Navy SEALS are arguably the most elite fighting force in the world. Before becoming a SEAL, the candidate must complete a grueling “Hell Week.” All of the candidates are put through intense exercises and experience extreme stress during the week on only a total of three to five hours of sleep. As extreme fatigue and sleep deprivation quickly set in, most of the candidates experience hallucina- tions.s According to several SEALS interviewed, most hallucinations occur while the candidates, as a team, paddle in a raft out in the ocean. One believed that he saw an octopus come out of the water and wave at him! Another thought he saw a train coming across the water headed straight toward the raft. Another believed that he saw a large wall, which the raft would crash into if the team persisted in paddling. When the octopus, train, and wall were pointed out by the candidates to the rest of the team, no one else saw them, even though they were all in the same frame of mind. Most of them hallucinated at some point, but none of them participated in the hallucination of another.
Paul would have not been distraught. He would have no internal motive to see a vision.
James would not have been a likely candidate to hallucinate since he did not believe Jesus was God.
It is normal to doubt. But we have reason to go all in- A enemy and a skeptic, both who had 1st hand knowledge as to what they claim to have seen, trusted Jesus as their Lord and savior. James stopped referring to Jesus as his brother and started calling him Lord.
And that is what we do. We trust Jesus as our Lord because of the Resurrection. The resurrection demonstrates that Jesus was not crazy, but actually was the son of God, capable of restoring anyone who believes in him.