Is it easy for you to believe “unbelievable” things? How much stock do you put in your own understanding of reality, of history, of what you think is possible or impossible? Skeptics of the Bible often point to the stories about Jesus as simply unbelievable. Take Mark 5 for example.
Mark relates three encounters Jesus had with people in impossible situations. First, the Gerasene demoniac. Here was a man possessed by many unclean spirits. He lived in empty tombs, had supernatural strength to break any chain that was meant to restrain him. He spent his days screaming, gashing himself with stones. If ever there was a hopeless case, it was him. People avoided and feared him. The only outcome they could see was to one day find him dead, having thrown himself over the cliffs or bleeding to death from self-injury.
Next, Mark tells us about the woman who had been bleeding for twelve years. She had seen every doctor, tried every remedy, and spent all she had to get well, with no result. She was weak, anemic, and without hope. If something didn’t change, she would surely die soon.
Finally, Mark tells us about a synagogue official whose daughter was sick to the point of death. The doctors had given up hope, so he sought out Jesus to come and heal her. He had high hopes as he accompanied Jesus back to his home but was devastated to be greeted with the news his little girl had died. All hope vanished.
Each bystander or observer would have declared without reservation that nothing could be done for these people. The only exceptions would be those who had already seen Jesus’ miraculous work. The people who had not encountered Jesus and seen with their own eyes would never believe what could happen. It was simply unbelievable because it defied their personal experiences and exceeded the bounds of scientific, logical, human reasoning.
Thankfully, we have firsthand accounts who witnessed these events. Jesus healed the demoniac, freeing him from his tormentors, and demonstrating His authority over the demons as He sent them into the swine. The woman had such faith she only needed to touch the hem of His garment and was immediately healed. The little girl was awakened from the dead, her spirit returning to her body at Jesus’ command.
Those of us who have experienced personally being freed from our demons, cleansed by His blood, and brought to spiritual life have no trouble believing the unbelievable stories about Jesus. But what about the skeptic? Is there any other reason to open your mind and heart to believe?
Did you know that the New Testament scriptures have more manuscript evidence for reliability than any other first-century documents? It’s astounding. Scholars use two metrics to determine the reliability of a text. The first is the gap of time between the original writing and the date of the first manuscript (copy). The second is the number of copies that exist, and the percentage of accuracy to one another.
There are 5,686 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, with a gap time of fewer than 100 years, and a 99.5% accuracy rate. In addition, there are over 19,000 copies in the Syriac, Latin, Coptic, and Aramaic languages. (For comparison, see the image below.)
My point is, just because something seems unbelievable doesn’t make it untrue. There is a lot of historical evidence about Jesus, and the veracity of scripture. Science will never disprove the Bible, but its discoveries will simply affirm what God has already told us. The question is, are we willing to set aside our human logic and limited understanding to accept the unbelievable, amazing, supernatural truth about Jesus?
In Mark 5, there were three responses to Jesus. Those diametrically opposed to Him (the demons) asked Him for a temporary stay of execution, knowing their eternal destination but hating Him anyway. The onlookers were apathetic; they either laughed or asked Him to leave, unwilling to believe what they observed to be true. But the hopeless ones asked for Jesus to do what only He could do. They expressed faith in the Son of God, and they were the ones who walked away with a changed life and hope for eternity.
The gospel is an unbelievable message to hard hearts or ears that refuse to hear. Human logic says it’s simply too good to be true. But is it? What do you believe?