Who you gonna Believe?
I had a devotional reading this a.m. that was centered around Jesus’s experience in the early morning of the first “Good Friday” on the Mount of Olives in the “garden” of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-56, Mark 14:32-52,
Luke 22:39-53, and John 18).
The point of the devotional (from Christian writer Philip Yancy’s “Grace Notes”) was different from what the devotional lead me to, but…
What “jumped out” (or I was led to, by the Spirit) in the story of these events of Gethsemane was that Matthew, Mark, and Luke weren’t on-the-scene witnesses, and must have had the story from someone else, who could only have known what Jesus had experienced in His passionate prayers during that dark and dismal night before His arrest and crucifixion because He told them what had happened while Peter, James, and John were ”asleep, exhausted by sorrow” (Luke 22:45).
Remember that the Law of Moses and most of our own cultural standards (many derived from the Judeo-Christian scriptures) say that testimony from a single source should be unacceptable in matters of life and death. Condemnation or validation must come from “two or more” witnesses (Deut. 17:6, 19:15; Matt. 18:16, 26:60; John 8:17; 2 Cor. 13:1; 1 Tim. 5:19; Hebr. 10:28; Reve. 11:1-11).
Since Jesus repeatedly taught to many people, who, in-turn, “witnessed” His preaching and teaching to many others, until billions have heard “The Word”…
Since Jesus taught that He and He alone was the path to eternal life in the joyful presence of The Creator (The Father, Himself, and the Holy spirit), His credibility as the sole source of details about many events recounted in the bible is crucial, as is the credibility of those recounting to us what He told them. If what He says is true, it is really a matter of ETERNAL life and death.
The synoptic Gospels constitute “three witnesses” to many of the events, but two of those three who give most of the parallel accounts were not eye-witnesses to them, they were relying on eyewitness accounts from others, and those others were sometimes witnessing only what they had been told had happened, from a single source… Or were they?
Our modern courts and our (real) journalists (if you can find any) usually limit credible testimony and accounts to those with direct knowledge of events or circumstances, except in the case of “expert witnesses”, and even then, two are better and more acceptable than one. Even so-called “hearsay” testimony can sometimes be admitted, if the one giving it does so in recounting behaviors or events has extensive experience with the person or circumstances and that testimony can show a pattern that may influence our judgment of the credibility of the defender’s or prosecutor’s arguments. Still, such witnesses are only heard in support of expert or "eye-witness" testimony.
We have millions upon millions of “hearsay” witnesses as to the truth of the gospel of Jesus, and most have and will refuse to recant their testimony even in the face of torturous death. Why?
Because of the undeniably credible testimony of the most expert witness to the truth of the Gospel and the teaching of Jesus that there is.
That “second (eye-) witness”, who also verifies the “second witness” of the Apostles and the “hearsay” testimony of His disciples and followers is what we Christians call “the Holy Spirit”.
Many that reject the Gospel or even deny the existence of The Triune God and any such things as "spirits", Holy or otherwise, (or any other God or gods beyond their own intellects and opinions) are simply refusing to “call witnesses” or even hold a trial of they own opinions and beliefs, or are accepting the “hearsay” testimony of others that have never even encountered Jesus or His Holy Spirit themselves, and have never given evidence in any just trial of His assertions.
Those who dare to do so may honestly and sincerely pray:
“Whoever you are, whatever you are, I am going to examine these scriptures and any extra-biblical stories and witnesses about them with an open mind, and ‘try them’ in that court. If you are there, send your witness.”
If you can do that and can be truly and honestly open yourself to the evidence of history and the valid testimonies of those who have witnessed the presence of the Christ on this earth and in their lives, you may find truths you could never have otherwise seen and experienced.
Of course, if you “don’t believe” in prayer, you can never hold a “fair trial” or evaluation of my assertions. And here’s another for you to examine and cross-examine: Many who reject the Gospel do so, not on evidence or testimony, but on fear of what a just trial of it would reveal to them, and what a just verdict would require OF them.
“There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance — that principle is contempt prior to investigation.”
– attributed to Herbert Spencer, probably derived from a remark in the writings of William Paley and the Rev. William H. Poole (two or three expert witnesses?).