St Mary's church, Upton on Mersey


Evidence for faith?

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How much evidence do we need to have faith in Jesus?


Ten years ago an Arab antiquities dealer made an interesting discovery. He came into possession of a 20-inch long limestone empty box that had been found near the Mount of Olives outside Jerusalem. The artifact was an ossuary which is used to store bones. This particular box is of special interest as it carries the words, ?James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.? The inscription was celebrated as the first physical evidence of the existence of Christ.


However, when the ossuary was offered for sale, the owner was challenged and charged with forgery. He was accused of taking valuable objects and adding inscriptions to massively increase their value. He was arrested and, with three others, charged in 2004 with forgery, fraud and damaging archaeological artifacts.


However, the charges against two of the men have recently been dropped and only the alleged leaders of the forgery ring remain on trial. They deny all charges. The trial, which has lasted for several years, has failed to come up with strong evidence against the accused, and the judge seems likely to reject the charges of faking a stone box, raising the possibility that it could be genuine.


This made me ponder on an important question. Would it make any difference to what I think at all? It would definitely prove that there was a man called Jesus, who was the son of Joseph and brother to man called James. But then there could be more than one circle of relationships like this? e.g. in today?s terms; John, son of Fred and brother to Phil (there must be more than one like this out there).


Ultimately, faith is the vital ingredient. Jesus performed some remarkable miracles and spoke with such authority that even the religious leaders of the time were struck by his presence, but they were not persuaded to listen to the heart of his message. The Gospel writer John records that a crowd would not be convinced, ?Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him.? John 12v37.

I?m not sure that all the evidence in the world (and there is a mountain of reliance evidence) would convince all people everywhere all the time. Jesus left room for choice and faith.


What would it take to make you believe? Or better still what is holding you back?

Graeme Skinner


The Start Course and Alpha Course are an both excellent ways to explore The Christian Faith.


The New Start Prayer invites you to take a step of faith.