After studying journalism and law (Yale), Lee Strobel became an award-winning journalist at the Chicago Tribune. His wife disrupted his secular life when she announced she had become a Christian. Though pleasantly surprised by the change in her character, he remained skeptical of Christian claims of history and truth. So he systematically interviewed experts in history, science, medicine, and psychology looking for answers. You can read about it in The Case for Christ.
We are in the midst of the season celebrating the central events of the Christian faith: the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Despite the evidence, skeptics remain. Some question not only his death by crucifixion, but that Jesus even existed.
First-century historians Josephus, Tacitus, Pliny, and Thallus mention the Jesus story. From these sources, we find that: Jesus was a Jewish teacher that many believed performed miracles. Some believed he was the Messiah, but not the Jewish leaders. He was crucified until dead under Pontius Pilate, but his followers believed that he continued to live. His following spread into the Roman world in the first century as people worshipped him as God. All of this from non-Christian sources!
The Bible adds historical details to these accounts. The Jewish leaders killed him because he was a perceived threat to their authority. The Roman governor Pilate killed him, and washed his hands in front of the crowd to exonerate himself of innocent blood. The angry mob killed him because they chose the known criminal Barabbas to be released instead. As for Jesus, they shouted, “Crucify Him!”
So if a real Jesus lived and died, the next question is, “Why?” I was enjoying lunch with a fellow once, when he pronounced that he respected Jesus because “he died for what he believed in.” I almost choked. To him, Jesus was just some revolutionary, an activist that got what was coming. Didn’t his death mean much more than that?
A Hebrew prophet tells us, “The Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief” (Is 53:10). Think of Jesus’ tortured death, then read that He “for the joy set before Him, endured the cross” (Heb 12:2). Yes, joy! People may have carried out the death sentence, but it was God’s plan all along. Why? For us, for love. Before the foundation of the world, God knew we would fall into sin; in love He prepared a Sacrifice to bear our sin and offer forgiveness. His call is believe Him and accept what He has done for us. It’s life-changing.
What became of Lee Strobel? He was convinced by the evidence, and believed that Jesus lived and died on his behalf. Might you also need to consider that you are the reason for the Sacrifice?