An excerpt from Trevor Sutton’s book ” Why Should I Trust the Bible?”:
The Bible is outrageous and outlandish. And that is what makes it so great. Scripture is teeming with mind-bending miracles, wonderful works of God, and outlandish occurrences. Leaf through the Bible and you will find some incredible stuff: Moses parts a giant body of water, Jonah spends a few days in a fish, and Daniel has a sleepover with lions. Numerous dead people come back to life in the Bible: Tabitha, Eutychus, Lazarus, and a whole valley of dry bones. Countless hungry people have their bellies filled with food. Enemies of God come to know and love Him. Just about every page of the Bible contains something outrageous and outlandish.
And twice a year, the Church reads the most outlandish and outrageous portions of the entire Bible: the Scripture readings for Christmas and Easter. These are bold claims that stand out from every other bold claim made elsewhere in Scripture. The Christmas story is far from a cutesy tale about a lowly family having a baby in a manger; it is about the wonderfully powerful God of the universe uniting divinity with human flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. The Easter story makes no reference to bunnies or chocolates, pastel or pink; it is about God in human flesh offering His life on the cross, spending three days in the tomb vanquishing death and Satan, having His blood flow and human heat miraculously restored, and then rising victoriously to new life. These are bold claims. These are outlandish claims. These are outrageous claims. And these are true claims.
Many readers of the Bible attempt to do something curious with all these outrageous and outlandish claims: explain them away. Entire communities of believers read these texts and then begin spinning explanations for what really happened. Every dead person raised to new life was actually just sleeping. Every miraculous feeding was just a hidden stash of food. Jesus was not God; He was just a really good teacher. And He did not die on the cross but just swooned in pain and woke up three days later.
This is bogus.
The Bible makes outlandish and outrageous claims because they actually happened. Dead people actually came back to life. Food was actually multiplied. Blind eyes were really opened. Jesus actually is God in human flesh. He actually died. And He actually lives.
MANY OF JESUS’ MIRACLES GO AGAINST THE LAWS OF NATURE. YOU CANNOT POSSIBLY BELIEVE ALL THE MIRACLES ATTRIBUTED TO JESUS.
Any person making this claim is attempting to perform a miracle himself: forcing God into a box. Suggesting that God must conform to laws of nature is absurd. If God were small enough to be bound by the laws of nature, then He would certainly not be big enough to worship. The miracles of Jesus defy, deconstruct, and destroy the laws of nature.
There have been many attempts to explain away the miracles of Jesus. Outlandish does not begin to describe these explanations. Scholars have tried to deconstruct every one of the miracles performed by Jesus:
- He used the wedding festivities as a distraction in order to switch jugs of water with jugs of wine (John 2:1–11).
- He stockpiled thousands of pieces of bread in a cave in order to feed the masses with what appeared to be only a few loaves (John 6:1–14).
- He used the power of persuasion in order to make people think that He had healed their demonic possession (Luke 8:26–39).
- He was able to call Lazarus from the tomb because he was not really dead (John 11:1–44).
This list could be three times longer. Skeptical scholars have an explanation for every one of the miracles performed by Jesus. They have deconstructed the details of every eye opened, unraveled the mystery behind every tongue loosed, and explained away every palsied limb made strong. These attempts at explaining away the miracles of Jesus require a miraculous amount of creativity, ingenuity, and wishful thinking. It is harder to disbelieve the miracles of Jesus than it is to believe.
The push to deconstruct the miracles of Jesus comes from an overestimation of the laws of nature. Science has established various laws of nature. Ranging from gravitation to thermodynamics, scientists have determined the laws of nature to be universal and absolute. Apples on earth do not occasionally fall to the ground because of gravity; apples on earth always fall to the ground because of gravity. If it only occasionally happened that way, then it would not be a law of nature. Philosophers, theologians, historians, and scientists have applied these laws of nature to the miracles of Jesus and determined them completely incompatible: A child cannot be conceived without a father, thus Jesus could not be of divine birth. Human bodies are not buoyant enough to walk on water, thus Jesus could not have met the disciples in the middle of the lake. Dead people do not spontaneously come back to life, thus Jesus was not resurrected.
THE BIBLE > THE LAWS OF NATURE
These thinkers have wrongfully placed Jesus under the reign and rule of natural law. Making this claim is telling the God of the universe that He must conform to certain rules pertaining to matter and gravity. Arguing that the miracles of Jesus are concocted because they break the laws of nature forces God into a box. God did not give Moses any laws about gravitation at Mount Sinai. The laws of nature are human constructions; these supposed laws have come through careful observation and experimentation. God has clearly created the universe to work in a predictable way: Apples fall toward the earth. Hot air rises. Matter is neither created nor destroyed.
The problem is a manmade list of laws that God cannot break. God does not follow human rulebooks. He does not fit in test tubes. He defies human knowledge. Jesus turning water into wine is not breaking the laws of chemistry. He is simply God being God. Jesus walking on water is not an assault on buoyancy. This is simply what happens when God is present in creation. Jesus coming back to life after being dead for three days does not need to conform to the laws of nature. It is a miracle.
The miracles of Jesus were documented by a first-century Jewish historian named Josephus: “Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as received the truth with plea- sure” (Antiquities of the Jews 18.3.3). His wonderful works of turning water into wine, raising the dead, and healing the sick were noteworthy enough to be documented outside of the Bible. It is worth noting that skeptics have a rebuttal even to this extra-biblical corroboration of the miracles of Jesus; they claim that His followers secretly snuck this line in to the works of Josephus. This means not only that Jesus snuck bread into a cave without anyone noticing, but also that His followers snuck external evidence into Jewish writings to confirm the historicity of the miracles. (It sure is a lot of work disproving Jesus, huh?)
The miracles of Jesus were noteworthy enough to make it into extra-biblical works of history. And the miraculous works of Jesus were noteworthy enough to get Him killed. He performed them repeatedly and publicly. He raised the ire of religious leaders through His miracles. His miraculous deeds could not be deconstructed. Nobody could dismiss the work that Jesus was doing. The miracles performed by Jesus were so legitimate that the only recourse was to kill Him. And even that did not stop the miracles—He lives!
From Why Should I Trust the Bible © 2016 A. Trevor Sutton. Published by Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.