What can you tell me about George Washington if you cannot use first hand accounts? For this exercise you cannot use eye witness material, his writings, or any source who relied on eye witnesses. What can you tell me about him?
This is the trick some in the modern world use to dismiss the authenticity of Jesus. We have lots of eyewitnesses. Two of his brothers wrote books in the Bible. Three of his friends wrote books. A doctor who talked to eyewitnesses wrote two books. A man who encountered Jesus after Jesus’s death contributed much of the New Testament.
We have not just this work, but we have the work of people who were friends of the eye witnesses. Polycarp and Ignatius were students of the Apostle John. Clement is mentioned in Philippians. We have writings from all three and we have writings from those who heard those men.
The accuracy of oral history is not disputed by historic measure. In fact, basic facts about the Trojan War were transmitted orally over a period of 400 years before Homer set them down, but Homer could still describe Troy. The writings about Jesus were written closer to his life than most of the writings about the Roman Emperor Tiberius were to his life.
In 2 Peter 1, the Apostle wrote
For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
The existence of that passage is why so much energy has gone into dismissing 2 Peter from the Bible. Peter says he was an eye witness. Peter saw the transfiguration. He saw the Old Testament prophets’ words “more fully confirmed.”
How can we believe scripture? Because the men who saw with their own eyes were the writers. How can be believe scripture? Because the Christ who conquered death believed scripture.
But we do not need just these eyewitnesses. Accept Christ into your life and you will see and feel him working in your life. No academic proof will ever fully convince you. Only Christ himself can do that. He is able to and will if you let him.
There is a movement of people who deny the historic Jesus ever existed. Like the anti-vaccine movement, they have people with Ph.D’s and M.D’s, but they remain on the fringes. Most historians accept the historic Jesus lived. It is not hard to accept that. But Jesus is more than history. He is the Son of God who spoke the world into being and conquered death. Believe in him and he will give you eternal life. You too can one day behold the Majestic Glory that Peter saw on that mountain top.