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Monday, July 11, 2011


A given is an established fact, something on which we agree, a starting point for a discussion. Sometimes I wonder about the givens we miss.

In John's gospel we find the account of the raising of Lazarus from the dead. The account, to me, is somewhat baffling. Here's why. After Jesus raised Lazarus from the grave, witnesses went to tell the Pharisees what Jesus had done. That's right, people who saw it happen went to Jesus's enemies to report the incident. As a result of the evidence of hostile witnesses, the Pharisees finally succumbed to the unavoidable conclusion that Jesus really was the Son of God with power over life and death and repented in dust and ashes. No, wait, that's not what it says. It says that "from that day on they made plans to put Him to death" (John 11:53). Beyond that, "The chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well" (John 12:10). What?!

You see, there were some givens here. There were some established facts, some points that no one was disputing. Given #1: Jesus did miracles. Given #2: Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Given #3: Lazarus represented living proof of Jesus's power. No one was disputing any of these points. No, it was the result of these demonstrated facts that produced the plans to kill both of them.

You'll find something very similar in an exchange with the Jews at an earlier time. Jesus expressed, "I and the Father are one" and the Jews picked up stones to stone Him (John 10:30-31). Jesus asked an interesting question. "I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?" (John 10:33). Now, the proper response logically would be, "You did no such thing! You're a blasphemer!" That was not their response. Instead, "It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God" (John 10:34).

Again, we're looking at givens. What givens are here? Apparently no one questioned whether or not Jesus had done "many good works from the Father". No one doubted that. There were lots of eye witnesses, lots of living people who could testify to these things. There were no challenges to the fact that Jesus was performing miracles. Do you see that? No challenges to the fact that Jesus was performing miracles. And, still, the response is hostility.

In the biblical accounts, there is absolutely no question that the evidence for the existence of God and the deity of Christ were plain, present, undeniable. No one stood by and asked, "Where's your proof?" No one remarked, "If only you had some evidence for me, I'd believe." The evidence was a given. No, the problem wasn't the facts; the problem was the hearts of those who rejected Him.

The problem is the same today.


Anonymous said...

Thomas asked for proof...

Stan said...

Of what? Not the existence of God. Not the fact that Lazarus had been raised from the dead. Not the deity of Christ. Thomas asked for proof of the Resurrection. He only asked for proof of that on the basis of the words of the other disciples, not in the presence of the Resurrected.

The question in this post is not "Did anyone in the Bible ever ask for proof of anything?" The idea is "There is evidence." The question is whether or not you will admit that fact.