Last week we looked at how the Disciples transformation points to the truth of the resurrection. These men who followed and fully believed in Jesus were scared and scattered after he was arrested and crucified. These same men however after seeing the risen Jesus were filled with confidence and the boldness to willingly go to their death for proclaiming the truth of Jesus’ resurrection.
This is very convincing evidence, but some critics may argue that the resurrection story came about through people who believed in Jesus and who made the story up because they wanted to keep His message alive. This is a weak objection that can be disproved in many ways, but one of the most powerful ways to show why this can’t be the case is actually another piece of evidence that shows the truthfulness of the resurrection. This evidence is looking at the skeptics who were changed.
After His resurrection, Jesus did not only appear to the people who believed in Him. Jesus appeared to many people who were complete skeptics that didn’t believe in His claim to be the messiah. Two really clear examples of skeptic conversions are James Jesus’ Brother and Saul of Tarsus.
James, Jesus own brother, did not believe in His claims during Jesus ministry. We are told in the Gospel of John that “even Jesus’ own brothers did not believe in Him”. This all changed however once Jesus appeared to James after the resurrection. When we read about James later in the new testament we are told that He became one of the leaders in the Jerusalem church and that He was eventually killed for believing in Jesus. This is solid proof to believe that the resurrection actually happened, how else would a non-believer in Jesus be transformed so majorly that he would be willing to die for believing in who Jesus claimed to be.
Our second skeptic has an even more radical transformation. Saul of Tarsus was a well known persecutor of the early church. Saul stood by and approved of the stoning of Steven, the very first christian martyr. Saul made it his mission to squelch the rise of christianity and he went from house to house putting christian men and women in prison for their faith. This all changed in an instant however when Saul met the risen Jesus. The story is told like this in Acts 9:1-5:
“But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.”
From this moment on, Saul was a changed man. You probably know Saul of Tarsus by the name Paul (the apostle). Paul is responsible for writing a large portion of the new testament. He made many missionary journeys through the ancient roman empire and he planted and taught many churches throughout the region. He proclaimed the truth of Jesus and His resurrection everywhere he went and he was eventually killed for his faith.
Paul clearly believed he had met the risen Jesus and he believed it so strongly that he gave his life to spread the Gospel. Only seeing the risen Jesus would give someone the confidence to change from persecuting the church of Jesus to one day dying for the very faith he used to attack.
The change of these skeptics stands as one of the strongest pieces of evidence for the truth of the resurrection.