How Do We Know Jesus’ Words Are True?
But how was Ravi to know that Jesus’ words are true? Ravi wanted to know if there was any real evidence backing up Jesus’ claims. As he examined the New Testament, Ravi came to realize that two objective tests confirm Jesus’ claims:
- Jesus fulfilled hundreds of prophecies written as much as 1500 years before his birth.
- Jesus defeated death, something no other person, or religious leader had been able to do.
Let’s briefly examine these evidences.
Throughout the Old Testament, references to a coming Messiah tell us about a man who would someday bring peace to Israel—and the world. However, this Messiah would first need to die for our sins. Over 700 years before Jesus’ birth, Isaiah the prophet reveals that the Messiah will be:
- Despised and rejected
- Pierced for our rebellion
- Crushed for our sins
- Beaten and whipped
- Led like a lamb to the slaughter
- Buried in a rich man’s grave
- An offering for sin
Each of these prophecies about the Messiah was fulfilled by Jesus Christ over 700 years later. Isaiah further told us that the Messiah had special credentials.
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given…..and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”
- Isaiah 9:6 : Isa. 25:1: 40:9-11: Matt. 28:18: Luke 2:11
- Isaiah tells us here that the Messiah is God himself—yet in some mysterious way, he will be born as a child. His credentials would be that of God himself.
Altogether, nearly 300 different prophecies, with sixty-one different details about the Messiah, were precisely fulfilled by Jesus hundreds of years after they were written by Isaiah and other prophets. And the Dead Sea Scrolls confirm that these prophecies were written well before the birth of Christ. (See “Was Jesus the Messiah?”)
The odds against one person fulfilling all of these prophecies are staggering. And there could have been no collusion, since they were written over a period of 500 years by men who didn’t know each other. Ravi writes,
“The spread itself defies natural explanation. Long before all converged in the person of Jesus Christ, His coming was envisioned, foreshadowed, and described in detail.”
Ravi was convinced that as the promised Messiah, Jesus was the “Mighty God” who came to die for us just as Isaiah had foretold hundreds of years earlier. He reasoned if we can believe God for hundreds of prophecies, then it makes sense to believe Jesus’ claims about himself.
Although Jesus’ fulfillment of prophecy was compelling evidence for the truth of his claims, Ravi wanted to know if evidence existed for Jesus’ resurrection.
He read that Jesus was reported by many eyewitnesses to be alive. Over 500 saw him at one setting. And his tomb remains empty today as it was 2000 years ago. His followers were so convinced in his resurrection that they gave their lives proclaiming it as true. Ravi realized that if Jesus truly did rise from the dead, he would have answers about the path to God that no one else has been able to demonstrate.
Several skeptics have tried to prove that Jesus’ resurrection was a legend, or a hoax plotted by his followers. Two brilliant skeptics even began writing books attempting to prove the story was fabricated. One was a brilliant journalist; the other, one of the founders of Harvard Law School. Neither of them thought the resurrection was an historical fact. However, both of these skeptics became persuaded by the evidence that Jesus actually did rise from the dead. (See “Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?”)
Most scholars who examine the evidence are convinced that something happened shortly after Jesus’ death that changed his followers, and ultimately history. It was their conviction in the risen Christ that launched Christianity. Dr. E. M. Blaiklock, former Professor of Classics at Auckland University, concluded:
“I claim to be an historian. My approach to Classics is historical. And I tell you that the evidence for the life, the death, and the resurrection of Christ is better authenticated than most of the facts of ancient history….”
Ravi became convinced by the historical evidence that God had spoken through Jesus, and that he alone is the way to God. He writes,
“It was Jesus’ victory over the grave that provided the grand impetus for the early church to tell the world that God had spoken, and indeed, had done so in a dramatic and incontrovertible manner. All this transpired in history, and is open to the historian’s scrutiny.”
Ravi discovered that Jesus is a living Savior who loves him, died for him, and defeated death. And because Jesus defeated death, he could believe his words about God, the way to God, and how to have eternal life.
In contrast to the uncertainty of the priest, Ravi realized that the ashes we leave behind are not the real us. Our real identity is eternal, and because of Jesus, we have hope beyond the grave. That assurance was the hope and meaning Ravi had been seeking. He decided to put his faith in Jesus as his personal, living Savior. Ravi explains,
“I came to Him because I did not know which way to turn. I have remained with Him because there is no other way I wish to turn. I came to Him unsure about the future. I remain with Him certain about my destiny. I came amid the thunderous cries of a culture that has three hundred and thirty million deities. I remain with Him knowing that truth cannot be all-inclusive. Truth by definition excludes.”