“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” — Jesus of Nazareth, circa 33 A.D., as quoted in John 14:6
That’s a pretty bold statement—claiming to be the only way a person can get to heaven. But the man who uttered this also claimed to be the Son of God—for which He was arrested by the religious leaders of His day, condemned for blasphemy, and crucified on a Roman cross. His followers scattered—would they be next?
That would have been the end of the story, and His disciples may or may not have launched a new religion, depending on how brave they felt—if they ever came out of hiding. If they did and this new sect took hold, pilgrims over the past two thousand years would have visited His garden tomb, still sealed by the authority of the Roman government, listening to a guide relating the story of the man called “the Christ” (meaning the one God promised to send), Worker of miracles, Founder of the religion called “Christianity,” who was martyred for standing up to the hypocrites and religious power mongers of His day and teaching the common people the truth.
“Here lies Jesus of Nazareth…”
Except… there is no decayed body lying on a slab in a Mid-Eastern tomb.
On the Feast of Pentecost—50 days after He was crucified—His disciples boldly took to the streets of Jerusalem, claiming Jesus of Nazareth was no longer dead, but alive. “The tomb is empty. Go see for yourselves. God raised Him from the dead.”
Eventually all, save one—John—were martyred for this claim that spawned a new group of believers called “Christians.” None denied—not even on the point of torture and excruciating death—that Jesus rose from the dead. By the time the last apostle died 60-some years later in exile, Christianity, persecuted by both the Jews and the Romans, had spread throughout the entire then-known world.
And nobody supposed to be Jesus was ever found.
Can any other religion show you an empty tomb, where its Founder was supposed to have lain?
But there’s more.
What? More than a dead body coming back to life? More than an empty tomb? More than thousands of believers over two millennia who chose martyrdom over denying that Jesus Christ rose from the dead?
Yes. He also claimed that He would live within those who believed in Him:
“I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him or knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you…On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you” (John 14:16-17, 20).
This, then, is what makes me a Christian—Jesus Christ living in me.
Ever since He was born, men and women have had to decide what they would do with Jesus.
When He entered this world, the religious leaders ignored Him and a power-hungry king tried to kill Him. Pagan wise men traveled miles and months to lay treasure at His feet. Poor shepherds bowed in worship.
When He died, the religious leaders mocked Him and the government washed its hands of Him. His followers hid in an upper room—until they found His tomb empty and saw for themselves a very-much-alive Jesus.
What will you do with Jesus?
“God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:11-12)
Michele T Huey is an American Christian author and speaker.