Many years ago, I had a conversation with a man who was an adamant atheist. Somehow it had come up that I was a Christian. He ranted about how people who believe in that “Jesus nonsense” are complete fools, and you have to have completely lost your mind to trust in such a silly fairy tale. In the course of the conversation, I told him about what my life had been like before I became a follower of Christ and how Jesus had changed my life and set me on a much better path.
He said, “You just came to your senses as many people do.” I responded, “Now that’s very interesting. I came to my senses when I lost my mind and became a Christian.” He immediately realized, he was stuck. It is impossible to come to your senses and lose your mind at the same time. We spoke for a few more minutes, and his last comment was, “I just don’t think about those things.” Avoid the question, and maybe it will go away.
The narrative at the end of Mark chapter 11, reminded me of my conversation. In Mark 11 verses 27 -33, the religious leaders questioned Jesus about where he received the authority to do the things he was doing. Keep in mind this is a few days before the crucifixion, the end of the earthly ministry of Jesus. The religious leaders were very familiar with Jesus and the miracles he had performed. So this was not asked out of curiosity. Their purpose was to entrap Jesus; they wanted him to claim directly he received His authority from God. Then they could condemn Jesus for blasphemy. Jesus responded by asking them a question: “Jesus replied, ‘I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John’s baptism — was it from heaven or from men? Tell me!’ ” (Mark 11:29-30).
Immediately the religious leaders realized they were trapped in a “no-win” situation. If they John’s baptism was from heaven, He would say why didn’t they believe him. John had pointed to him and declared Jesus was the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29,36). If they answered it was men’s invention, they were essentially calling John a false prophet. Because the consensus of the people believed John was a genuine prophet, they remained silent, refusing to answer Jesus’ question.
It is true that we, as Christians live by faith. However, it is a reasonable faith. Hard evidence supports the believer. Whether the question is on origins, the empty tomb, what actually happens to a believer that so radically changes them, the Gospel gives viable answers to the hard questions that no other worldview can.
Ultimately for the persistent unbeliever, the only answer is to avoid the questions.
“Believe the Gospel” (Mark 1: 15).