I recently watched, via Netflix, the Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. The parts he highlighted from the New Testament that demonstrate that the authors of the four gospels were either eye witnesses themselves to the events they wrote about, or drew on eye witness accounts. In the case of Luke, he makes it clear that he spent considerable time interviewing several eye witnesses to make sure he had the most accurate record of all.
Drawing from this fact alone, I was inspired to see how inspired the New Testament really was. Someone living at the time of Jesus near Jerusalem wouldn’t have a hard time finding one or several eye witnesses. The stories of Jesus’ actions would likely be a topic of the day. The congregation of Christians who met regularly to talk about Jesus after his death and resurrection would have more scripture in whispers than we have in the entire Bible.
The authors of the four gospels went through great lengths to extract only the most important bits of Jesus’ life and teachings. Their purpose was clear—to convince people of the important of worshiping Jesus as the Son of God and sole means of salvation. To that end, they did an extraordinary job.
The critics of the gospels, those who believe Jesus was some preacher stoned and hanged on a tree, or who believe Jesus never existed or did exist but hardly did anything miraculous, or did some miraculous things but was not the Lamb of God, and so on and so forth, have a lot of explaining to do. Unfortunately, I can’t imagine anything they can say or do that would convince me of disbelieving the gospels. The evidence is too strong in my mind and heart.
As we worship Jesus this Christmas (let us not be distracted from that!) let us imagine for a moment what it would have felt like to see the shepherds running through the streets of Bethlehem loudly declaring that the Savior of the World is born that night. Would we ignore them as lunatics, or would we take a moment to pause and praise God for sending His Son to save us?
If we were to walk in the streets where Jesus taught, would we have followed the crowd to listen to the teachings of Jesus, and perhaps get a glimpse of his face? Would we take the time to ask people who claimed to be healed by Jesus? Would we remember the Sermon on the Mount?
As Jesus was triumphantly praised as he entered Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, would we join in that praise? Would we still praise him even when the political storm turned against him, and we saw him bleeding? Would we offer to carry the cross for him up that hill?
Where would we be after his death? Would we wait by his tomb, impatient for his resurrection, or would we scatter and flee like the early saints?
Oftentimes, people accuse members of the LDS church of poo-pooing the Bible because we only believe it “as far as it is translated correctly”. This completely ignores the positive affirmation “We believe the Bible to be the Word of God”, which we believe first and foremost. It is more positive than the “We also believe the Book of Mormon to be the Word of God”, which almost seems conditional on our belief of the Bible.