In order to believe an outrageous story, we need to trust the source. When it comes to the life of Jesus, we have the gospels— but are they trustworthy? According to the historical criteria for accuracy, we have much more evidence of the life and deeds of Jesus than we do for Alexander the Great or Julius Caesar
Question to consider:
Do you struggle with believing that the stories of Jesus are true? Why or why not?
What evidence do you normally look for when deciding whether a story is fact or fiction?
Luke is one of the four Gospel writers in the Bible. Read below what he had to say as he began his own account of the life of Jesus.
Luke 1:1-4 (NIV)
Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eye witnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.
- How was the news about Jesus spreading?
- What sort of words and phrases does Luke use in verse 3 that might give us confidence in his story?
- Can you remember a time when someone taught you something from the Bible and you had a sense of certainty about what was being taught? What truth were you were certain of and why were you so sure?
When a witness gives evidence at a trial, they share their story; their version of events. They do this so that together with the testimony of other witnesses, the court gains an accurate picture of what has taken place. Stories are cross referenced, facts are checked, reliability of witnesses is confirmed, all so that the truth can be found. This is what Luke did for Theophilus, so that he could be certain of the truth. Now, 2000 years later, when we hold the Bible in our hands or see its pages on a screen, we can share in that same confidence. The gospels provide a historical and reliable account of the life of Jesus. However, like a jury in the courtroom, we still have to decide if we accept this truth for ourselves, do we believe it? The jury has to carefully consider all of the evidence - and we can do the same with the Bible. We can ask the Holy Spirit to help us, who Jesus said would testify to the truth about him (John 15:26).
As you read the verses below, can you sense the excitement of those first followers as they came to believe who Jesus was? Pray that you too will know Jesus for yourself just as his disciples did. That as God's Word speaks, we might experience the same joy those first followers felt and share in their desire to tell others his story.