Download the full PDF Short Story Here: Is Jesus Real? Conversations With Gio
How would you answer when people tell your children that Jesus isn’t real?
What major historical event separates our faith from all the others?
Are you fully prepared to defend your faith?
What started out as writing cliff notes for my friends turned into this parable to my son.
Disclaimer: I copied and pasted many lines straight from Lee Strobel’s book, The Case For Christ. I didn’t want to take away from the story and distract the reader with multiple citations and references. Therefore, I simply put the page number in parentheses right after each sentence, quote, or phrase that I took from his book. Please read the preface in the PDF version linked above.
Wonder if people just made him up?
Fall was approaching, yet even though it was late September, it was still a hot summer night. Kneeling by his bedside feeling the cool air from the ceiling fan, Gio and I began to talk. First about his Captain Underpants comic book that he just drew, then about his next birthday party that he wanted to have, then to the deep stuff about whether or not Jesus was real.
He has always done this since he was little. Gio would ask super tough questions right before he went to bed. I remember one time, at about three years old, he asked how to get to heaven. And then if he could go there soon. “Will God drop down a ladder so I can climb through the clouds?”
So I shouldn’t be surprised. He’s seven years old now. He’s thinking about stuff even more. Even though I’m extremely tired and just want to crawl to my bed, I can’t let this question pass. I need to answer it.
“Daddy, wonder if people just made him up?”
“Yea. My friend said his friend said he’s just make-believe.”
Well, he’s definitely not made up. Historical facts prove it. Even non-Christian historians validate that he existed and that what he did—how he lived and died—really did happen. There’s no doubt about that.
You’ll have to be careful about listening to what others say. Most of the time they just spew out what someone else told them. They’re essentially giving you opinions based on no solid ground. Do your research. Find your facts before you claim your beliefs are right. Among the intelligent, educated, well-known scholars and historians out there, the question is not “did Jesus exist?” The only question is, “was He a man or the Messiah?”
“Alright it’s getting late buddy, time for bed.”
“But dad, wait.”
What makes the difference? How do we know?
“Oh boy. Do we really need to go there right now? Ok, let me do this fast.”
The main differentiating factor that separates Jesus from any other religion is the Resurrection. No other religions consist of a God who resurrected himself. Well, if they did, they didn’t pop up until after the New Testament, which means they copied from the story of Jesus, not the other way around.
Regardless, of all the false prophets out there who claimed to be the living God, once they physically died, so did their religious following. When Jesus died and rose again, His enormous following just began. It was the end, but it was just the beginning. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:17 that the Resurrection is the very linchpin of the Christian faith: “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile. You are still in your sins.” (206)
When Jesus was crucified even his disciples at first got nervous that this was all just a hoax. Then Jesus appeared to them after his death. He did what He said he was going to do and everything He preached and claimed became REAL. In fact, He appeared to many people after His death:
- To Mary Magdalene, in John 20:10-18
- To the other women, in Matthew 28:8-10
- To Cleopas and another disciple on the road to Emmaus, in Luke 24:13-32
- To eleven disciples and others, in Luke 24:33-49
- To ten apostles and others, with Thomas absent, in John 20:26-30
- To seven apostles, in John 21:1-14
- He was with the apostles at the Mount of Olives before his ascension, in Luke 24:50-52 and Acts 1:4-9
- And right before he ascended he gave the great commission to his disciples—to make disciples of all nations, in Matthew 28:16-20 (234)
“Remember the Great Commission. It’s one of the three main things that God calls you to do as a Christian. Love Him, love His people, and make disciples of all nations.
Also, keep a note of these scriptures of Jesus’ appearances. You’ll need them one day to defend what you believe and also to share with other new believers that are struggling with doubts.”
Then what happened?
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“What happened after Jesus appeared to people after his Resurrection?”
I paused for a second. It’s getting late. Don’t think about the clock. These are amazing questions I thought to myself. This is what you want your son to talk about.
I refocused, and then continued.
Well, his disciples and followers were on fire. You have to remember, even Jesus’ own brother didn’t believe he was Lord until he resurrected himself. Then his brother James believed. And guess what happened to him, he was stoned to death after announcing that his brother was the Savior.
Ten of the eleven remaining disciples (the twelfth, Judas, left the pack when he betrayed Jesus) went on a mission to talk about Jesus to everyone they could. They were beaten, imprisoned, hated. But they didn’t stop, to the point of grisly deaths. (45)
- Andrew was crucified and tied to the cross instead of being nailed, so he would suffer longer. He lived for two days and preached to passersby.
- James (son of Zebedee) was beheaded.
- Philip was crucified.
- Bartholomew was crucified, one account claiming he was skinned alive and then beheaded.
- Thomas was killed by local religious authorities who speared him.
- Matthew was stabbed in the back by a swordsmen.
- Thaddaeus was crucified.
- Simon the Canaanite was crucified.
- Peter was crucified and as the story goes, asked to be hung upside down so that his death would not be seen as equal to Jesus.
- John was the only one of the original disciples that didn’t die a violent death.
Who do you know would do that today? I know I don’t have the guts. I’m afraid that if someone put a gun to my head and told me to recant my faith, I would in order to save my life for you and your sister and your mom. I really love Jesus, Gio. But I couldn’t do what those guys did back then.
For them to literally die for the sake of telling others about Jesus means they were convinced that what they saw was real. That would be like Jesus popping up in this room right now for us. Could you imagine what would happen to us? We would never again be afraid to tell people about him. We would devote the rest of our lives to it. We wouldn’t be afraid to die doing it either, because we would know what was on the other side.
You know what, after saying that I realize that’s actually how we need to be right now. As Christians we’re supposed to die to ourselves and be willing to put our lives on the line for him. I feel Jesus. I really do. But I’m also human. To get to that point, I would need to see him.
After I yawned again, “Alright that’s a lot for tonight. Your brain is going to explode.”
“Ok. I get what you’re saying about all of this dad. His disciples were on fire. The Resurrection was the main part of the entire story. Once that happened, people really started believing. But…”