Just How Much Evidence do you Need?

Crime shows on TV have a huge audience. How many versions of ‘CSI,’ or ‘NCIS,’ or ‘Law and Order’ can we watch? Our appetite seems insatiable for them.

There seems to be something about the challenge of piecing together evidence and finding witnesses to a crime that fascinates us.

Of course, it helps that we are watching mostly fictionalised events from the safety of our loungerooms. Everyone wants to see the bad guy get what he deserves.

Might be a bit different if we were the accused. We’d find it much less entertaining then, I suspect. It would be even less entertaining if we were truly guilty of the crime.

But to be accused without evidence, without witnesses, without a ‘body’ or ‘a smoking gun’ is just going to far.

But that’s what Jesus faced in John 5. The Pharisees held an impromptu ‘kangaroo court’ to judge Jesus for being a law-breaker after He healed the man by the Pool of Bethesda.

Of course, we know Jesus has done no wrong. But that matters not a scrap to the Pharisees. They will seize any excuse to destroy His reputation.

It’s bad enough that He was working on the Sabbath – according to their tradition, although not according to the Law of Moses – but He then goes on to claim equality with God. It’s just too much! He has to be stopped.

But Jesus responds to their accusations by presenting witnesses for His defence. We had an opportunity to look at the first two of His witnesses on Sunday as we continued our study of the Gospel of John.

The first witness He presents is John the Baptist. The Jews believed that John the Baptist was a prophet, and were excited by his message that the one who would rescue them from the yoke of Roman oppression was about to arrive.

But Jesus was not the sort of saviour they anticipated. So they rejected Him. Now, Jesus has more powerful witnesses to present than John, but He puts the Pharisees on the spot by introducing John to the witness box.

“Do you reject John’s testimony? Then you are denying that John was the prophet that even you believed him to be. Do you believe he is a prophet? Then you need to listen to him. For he was telling you about Me. You can’t have it both ways.”

Jesus has better witnesses than John, of course. The works He does – the miracles – are witnesses in themselves. The Pharisees recognised that. Just read John 3:1-2.

They had witnessed miracles themselves, and heard reports of many more. And they had not long finished telling off a walking miracle for carrying his mat on the Sabbath – the event that triggered this kangaroo court.

Yet, no amount of miracles would ever be sufficient to convince these men that Jesus is who He claims to be.

You see, their problem was not lack of evidence; it was not an intellectual problem, as if they misinterpreted the evidence.

Their problem was that they did not want to believe. They had already made up their minds to reject Jesus. No one – and nothing – was going to change their minds.

Their problem was a moral problem. No amount of evidence would make them change their minds – not even someone rising from the dead.

If you choose not to believe Jesus Christ today, it is not because of a lack of evidence. There are any number of believers who will point you to Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God and the Saviour of the world.

There is no shortage of miracles occurring around the world that can only be attributed to God – quite apart from the miracle of your own life, and the miracle of creation you witness every time you go out the front door.

And there is the witness of the Bible. Despite thousands of years of attacks, it still stands strong, and has yet to be proven false.

And then there is the witness of your Christian friends, who will testify to the life-giving and life-changing power of Jesus Christ.

How many people claim that they want to remain open-minded about faith and spirituality? By which, they really mean that they want to reject Jesus Christ. That is not being open-minded; that is a closed mind to the evidence.

No, you are without excuse. If you refuse to believe, the problem is not the evidence – or lack of it. The problem is YOU.

But you don’t need to have that problem anymore. Put your trust in Jesus Christ, believe in Him. For He is everything He claims to be – and more.

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