Easter is a time when Christians are especially attuned to Jesus—reflecting on His crucifixion, celebrating His resurrection and affirming their belief in the Gospel.
Then there are others who don’t believe God exists or that the Bible is anything more than a book of ancient literature.
To the latter, the raising of a man from the dead would seem, well, just unbelievable.
Yet, Christian apologist Dr. Gary Habermas says many of even the most critical scholars now consider Jesus’ death by crucifixion and burial to be historically factual.
“Virtually no critical scholar, no matter how critical they are—they can be agnostic, a skeptic, atheist. … I’d say 95 percent will agree to this sentence: ‘The disciples had experiences which they believed were appearances of the risen Jesus.’”
>>Read more about the facts that are convincing skeptics.
Finding Common Ground
A skeptic himself for years, Dr. Habermas reversed his thinking while working on his Ph.D., finding solid historical evidence about Jesus he couldn’t ignore. Resurrection research is now the specialty for this New York Times best-selling author and distinguished research professor of Apologetics and Philosophy at Liberty University.
Dr. Habermas believes the disciples’ experiences of seeing the resurrected Jesus are the best evidence for the resurrection.
Agnostic scholar Dr. Bart Ehrman has echoed some of Habermas’ views.
“Historians, of course, have no difficulty whatsoever speaking about the belief in Jesus’ resurrection, since this is a matter of public record,” he has said.
Dr. Ehrman, a professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and New York Times best-selling author, added that, “It is a historical fact that some of Jesus’ followers came to believe that He had been raised from the dead soon after His execution.
“We can say with some certainty that some of His disciples at some later time insisted that … He soon appeared to them, convincing them that He had been raised from the dead,” Ehrman explained.
Ambushed By the Evidence
Lee Strobel didn’t believe in God or the resurrection. He thought the Christian faith was merely a crutch for people who couldn’t face life on their own.
A former legal editor for the Chicago Tribune, Strobel is widely known as the atheist journalist whose quest for historical evidence against Christ instead turned into the very reason he accepted Him as Lord and Savior.
Strobel recapped this evidence for Christianity in his 1998 international bestselling autobiography The Case for Christ.
Strobel passionately tried to disprove that Jesus Christ was divine—or that God existed—after his wife Leslie announced she’d become a Christian. This stunning revelation, along with intriguing changes in her character, were the catalyst behind his investigation to disprove Christianity.
For 21 months, the award-winning journalist cross-examined 13 scholars on the evidence for Christ, including interviewing Dr. Habermas about Christ’s post-resurrection appearances.
During his probe, he found strong medical and circumstantial evidence for the resurrection and evidence of an empty tomb, among other information. Strobel also picked apart the Bible, verse by verse.
At the end of his quest, he reached a verdict that surprised him. He wrote in his book, “I was ambushed by the amount and quality of the evidence that Jesus is the unique Son of God.”
Strobel then made a decision to ask God into his life and prayed to receive Christ as Savior.
‘The Case for Christ’ Film
Nearly 20 years after the book, moviegoers can discover or rediscover this story in the recently released film, The Case for Christ.
The drama follows Strobel’s investigation but also shows his then dark side that nearly destroyed his marriage.
Commenting on his former self, he said, “My heart had shrunk to the point where it was rock hard toward anyone else.”
“It’s an honest film,” Strobel admitted. “It shows an era of my life that was very immoral and drunken and profane and narcissistic.”
Believing the Resurrection
Dr. Habermas’ answers about Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances impacted Strobel, who later wrote: “All of the Gospel and Acts evidence—incident after incident, witness after witness, detail after detail, corroboration on top of corroboration—was extremely impressive. Although I tried, I couldn’t think of any more thoroughly attested event in ancient history.”
Now, Strobel is in the ranks of Christian apologists who share this and other evidence for Christ.
Writing book after book—more than 20 in all—the atheist-turned-believer has spent his life encouraging Christians, challenging skeptics and defending Christ around the world, including at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove.
“To maintain my atheism, I would have had to swim upstream against that evidence,” Strobel said in an interview with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. “That’s not the rational or logical approach. The most logical thing is to go in the direction the evidence is flowing.
“The resurrection really confirms [Christ’s] identity of being the Son of God.”
Are you willing to take a leap of faith? Pray now.