More Than a Carpenter
died for our sins and was resurrected and is alive. Eventually James became a leading figure in the Jerusalem church and wrote a book, the Epistle of James. He began it by writing, “James, a slave [servant] of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” (James 1:1). Eventually James was stoned to death on orders from Ananias, the high priest. 3 What could have changed James from an embarrassed scoffer to a man willing to die for his brother’s deity? Was James deceived? No. The only plausible explanation is what we read in 1 Corinthians 15:7: “Then [after Christ’s resurrection] he was seen by James.” James saw the resurrected Christ and believed.
    J. P. Moreland, professor of philosophy at the Talbot School of Theology, explains the significance of the fact that James, the brother of Jesus, eventually came to believe in Jesus as the Messiah:
The gospels tell us Jesus’ family, including James, were embarrassed by what he was claiming to be. They didn’t believe in him; they confronted him. In ancient Judaism it was highly embarrassing for a rabbi’s family not to accept him. Therefore, the gospel writers would have no motive for fabricating this skepticism if it weren’t true. Later the historian Josephus tells us that James, the brother of Jesus, who was the leader of the Jerusalem church, was stoned to death because of his belief in his brother. Why did James’s life change? Paul tells us: the resurrected Jesus appeared to him. There’s no other explanation. 4
    If the Resurrection were a lie, the apostles would have known it. Were they perpetuating a colossal hoax? Such a possibility is inconsistent with what we know about the moral quality of their lives. They personally condemned lying and stressed honesty. They encouraged people to know the truth. Historian Edward Gibbon in his famous work The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire gives the “purer but austere morality of the first Christians” as one of the five reasons for the rapid success of Christianity. 5 Michael Green, a senior research fellow at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University, observes that the Resurrection
was the belief that turned heartbroken followers of a crucified rabbi into the courageous witnesses and martyrs of the early church. This was the one belief that separated the followers of Jesus from the Jews and turned them into the community of the resurrection. You could imprison them, flog them, kill them, but you could not make them deny their conviction that “on the third day he rose again.” 6
    3. They Became Courageous
    The bold conduct of the apostles immediately after they were convinced of the Resurrection makes it highly unlikely that it was all a fraud. They became courageous almost overnight. After the Resurrection, Peter, who had denied Christ, stood up even at the threat of death and proclaimed that Jesus was alive. The authorities arrested the followers of Christ and beat them, yet they were soon back on the street speaking out about Jesus (see Acts 5:40-42). Their friends noticed their buoyancy, and their enemies noticed their courage. Remember that the apostles did not confine their boldness to obscure towns. They preached in Jerusalem.
    Jesus’ followers could not have faced torture and death unless they were convinced of his resurrection. The unanimity of their message and their conduct was amazing. The odds against such a large group of people agreeing on such a controversial subject are enormous, yet all these men agreed on the truth of the Resurrection. If they were deceivers, it’s hard to explain why at least one of them didn’t break down under the pressure they endured.
    Blaise Pascal, the French philosopher, writes:
The allegation that the Apostles were imposters is quite absurd. Let us follow the charge to its logical conclusion. Let us picture those twelve men, meeting after the death of Christ, and entering into conspiracy to say that He has risen. That would have constituted an attack upon both the

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