Summary: We all love comeback stories. The greatest comeback of all time was Jesus physically raising from the dead
In November 2001, Sports Illustrated magazine was covering the baseball World Series in which the Arizona Diamondbacks recovered from a slump to defeat the New York Yankees in the last inning of the final game. It started the editors thinking about the greatest comebacks in history. So, they produced their list of the “TOP TEN COMEBACKS OF ALL TIME.”
It was quite a broad list. Elvis Presley was on it, as a result of his TV special in 1968 that revived his sagging career. Muhammad Ali made the list when he returned from his forced seven-year exile from boxing to reclaim the world championship. Harry Truman made the cut, owing to his 1948 victory over Thomas Dewey when all the polls had him losing by a large margin. When Michael Jordan gave up baseball and returned to his first love of basketball, he found a spot on the top ten comebacks in history. Even humanity was on the list-after recovering from the Black Plague of the 14th century when 25 million Europeans died. Number two among the all-time comebacks was a tie between Japan and Germany, devastated in the Second World War but becoming world economic powers within a generation. And number one – named by the editors of Sports Illustrated magazine in the November 12, 2001, issue: the greatest comeback of all time … Jesus Christ. AD 33. Jesus Christ is number one because He confounds His critics and stuns the Roman authorities with His resurrection.
Watch this clip from the movie “Risen” (Projectionist play DVD Clip 2).
Last week we talked about the resurrection of Christ. We pointed out that there is no way to explain how Christianity began, how it spread so rapidly in the first century, how it even made it beyond the first century, apart from the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
We looked at the report written by Dr. Luke, a Gentile Physician by trade and investigative reporter by interest. We saw from testimony of one of the foremost archeologists of the 20th Century, Sir William Ramsey, that Luke’s words are, in his opinion, rock solid. If you weren’t here last week, let me just say that Dr. Ramsey actually approached the book of Luke initially hoping to discredit him. Instead, he concluded, that Luke’s writings, “could bear the most minute scrutiny as an authority for the facts of the Aegean world, and that it was written with such judgment, skill, art and perception of truth as to be a model of historical statement. . . .You may press the words of Luke in a degree beyond any other historians and they stand the keenest scrutiny and the hardest treatment.”
Italian scholars today consider Luke to be one of the most reliable authorities on first century history that we have. Sir Frederic Kenyon, one of the foremost experts on ancient manuscripts and their authority wrote, “The interval between the dates of original composition (of the New Testament) and the earliest extant evidence becomes so small as to be in fact negligible, and the last foundation for any doubt that the Scriptures have come down to us substantially as they were written has now been removed. Both the authenticity and the general integrity of the books of the New Testament may be regarded as finally established.”
Dr. a. F.F. Bruce, head of the Department of Biblical History and Literature at the University of Sheffield, and author of numerous books, one being “The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?” wrote, “The evidence for our New Testament writings is ever so much greater than the evidence for many writings of classical authors, the authenticity of which no one dreams of questioning. . . If the New Testament were a collection of secular writings, their authenticity would generally be regarded as beyond doubt.”
We don’t believe the writers of the Bible because they are in the Bible, they are in the Bible because they have been proven believable. We talked about this last week. In fact, the evidences for the authenticity of these writings are overwhelming. The only basis anyone has for rejecting these accounts is simply the pre-determination that they will not believe them; a willful ignorance. Willful ignorance is the state and practice of ignoring any sensory input that appears to contradict one’s inner model of reality; one’s bias. A bias, by the way, is a view held with ardor but one that is not based upon personal investigation; it is a prejudice we hold toward something or someone.
Willful ignorance differs from ignorance. A person who is ignorant is simply unaware of something. A person who is willfully ignorant is a person who is fully aware of the facts, but they simply refuse to accept them. I like what Aldous Huxley said, “Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” Put another way, we have the right to believe whatever we want, but not everything we believe is right.