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Today: 31 May 2020


Examining Evidence

First published 23/06/2019

Agatha Christie’s detective stories - featuring Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot, for instance - can be very complicated.  Sometimes, when you read or watch the story, you might well wonder if you have understood what is supposed to have happened, and struggle to work out how the hero finally solved the murder.

And there’s another problem - all these terrible and puzzling murders seem to take place wherever the hero-detective happens to be.  In other words if they ever come to visit you, look out, there might be a murderer and a story close by!

These stories are, of course, built round evidence.  Detectives look for clues that will solve the mystery.  Usually the more recent the clue, the better it is.  And even better, the clues that are staring them in the face which they only notice in a dawning moment of revelation - an “Ah, yes!’ moment.

The evidence for Christianity is, at one level, ancient history.  Clues that are two thousand years old might well look ‘cold’ by now.  Or putting that another way - how can we, all these centuries later, hope to unearth reliable evidence to unlock the story of Jesus?

Part of the answer is that the facts of Jesus are embedded in the Bible.  Despite all the scrutiny by scholars and doubters over many centuries, that evidence still stands up and provides solid grounds for making a case for believing.  Remember that today’s forensic science is able to look back over many years, even centuries, to reveal things that happened long in the past.  So today there is a great deal of archaeological evidence which supports the details of the Bible record.

At the same time, there is much more contemporary evidence all around us.  Just looking out into the universe, or at a flower, may give us that ‘Ah!’ moment, when we realise we had been looking at these things for ages, but only now suddenly realise that we are looking at the hand of God in creation.

Closer still, there may be Christians who are living evidence of the truth of the good news of Jesus.  They show it in their lives, their words and their actions.  Some have had their lives dramatically transformed, as if the evidence has jumped up and grasped them - the risen Jesus has become a living reality and a companion for them.

Detectives are trained to be persistent.  If they don’t find connections from the evidence at first, they go back and examine it again until they discover how it all fits and shows the truth of what happened.

In our search for the deepest reality, it is worth examining all the evidence, searching until a coherent pattern emerges.  The Christian faith may sometimes present us with puzzles and questions, but the evidence - both from history and from today - stacks up.  Jesus said, “Seek and you will find”.  That’s the best detective story of all, and this time it’s real, and we too can have a role in it.

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Lord God, as you present us with the evidence - through creation, through the Bible, through people - help us to examine it thoroughly, discover what is true, and find our life in you.

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