Once Upon a TimeYou may be familiar with the Lord/Liar/Lunatic argument regarding Jesus, set forth by C. S. Lewis. A friend of mine recently proposed a fourth alternative, that Jesus was a Legend. I have given that a lot of thought since then and find that that perspective doesn’t hold up well. Here’s my reasoning.

Let’s say that a group determines that they want to build up the story of Jesus into a legend for reasons of their own. Who are those people? The most obvious possibility is Jesus’ disciples – the original twelve closest followers of Jesus. So they get a guy named Luke, who wasn’t even a Jew, to concoct a story about Jesus, which later became the Gospel of Luke in the Bible.

OK, time out. Jews had few dealings with gentiles, considering them to be outsiders not worthy of consideration (to put it mildly). Why choose Luke for the task? Luke wasn’t even around when the original group of disciples formed. He was a doctor and a learned man. Why would he want anything to do with a bunch of fishermen who had made up a fictional story about a carpenter from Nazareth? Yet Luke took the time and effort to thoroughly research and document the entire story. Consider Luke 1:1 – 4.

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.

Does that sound like a guy who is trying to perpetuate a myth, or someone who genuinely cares about the subject and wants his friend to understand the facts? And what’s in it for Luke? Surely he has better things to do with his time than this.

The First ChristmasToday, the Christmas story is most often read from Luke’s account. Why? Because it’s the most accurate and complete rendering of the facts surrounding Jesus’ birth. Luke documented the facts as he found them through interviewing eyewitnesses and others who had been directly involved.

Let’s consider the story of Jesus’ birth. First, God sent the angel Gabriel to tell Zacharias that he was about to be a father. Time out again! An angel? Are you kidding me? Everyone knows that there’s no such thing! And when Zacharias didn’t believe the angel, he was struck dumb until the events foretold had taken place. Wait a minute! A miracle? Everyone knows that miracles don’t happen!

So far, it sounds to me like this legend is dead on arrival. No one is going to believe this nonsense. But wait, there’s more!

God once again sends Gabriel to someone (really? come on!) to announce that the impossible is about to occur. This time Gabriel tells a 14-year-old girl (Mary) that she is about to become pregnant by the Holy Spirit and later give birth to the Son of God. This one stretches credulity to the breaking point. It’s outrageous! And Luke describes the story as if it’s true. Has he lost his mind?

I could go on but I think I’ve gone far enough here to make my point. The disciples wanted people to believe this hogwash? Who in their right mind is going to believe this? Why would they make up a story which is so obviously falsifiable if they wanted people to believe it?

One reason I believe the story is because it is so outrageous! If there is a God and he had decided to step into the world of men and women to make a way for them to reach him, this is just the sort of thing that he’d have to do in order to get our attention. An extraordinary problem requires an extraordinary solution.

I could go on to speak about how well the story hangs together. The more I read it the more remarkable I find it. If this was a conspiracy to dupe the masses and somehow gain control over them, it would surely have failed. But if it was true, initiated, carried out, and sustained by God himself, it would succeed. And that’s exactly what has happened.