How did Jesus defend his claims? What did he rely on to convince people of the truth of who he is and what he has done? How might we use the same tools?
At the end of Luke’s version of the gospel, Jesus meets a pair of unnamed disciples walking to a nearby town. On the way, the disciples were speaking about their sadness at Jesus’ death. The Lord did not at first allow the men to recognize him, but walked along and anonymously joined in the conversation.
As the men talked about Jesus, the Savior helped them to see that they had misunderstood his identity and his mission. These disciples thought of Jesus as a prophet, but they had missed his identity as God the Son and as the suffering servant who would rescue God’s children by sacrificing his own life.
Look at what Jesus did to help the men understand.
Luke 24:25-27 – 25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
What is the primary tool Jesus used to convince these men of his identity? He used Scripture. Jesus led these men on a walk through the Old Testament to show them that all of the prophets had all been pointing to Jesus. He showed them not only that Messiah would be great, but that he would suffer and rise from the grave.
Luke 24:33-35 – 33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
The other tool that Jesus used to help the men to understand his identity was his resurrection. The fact that the men saw Jesus alive after his death was the powerful proof to them that the words of Scripture had been fulfilled. The disciples believed once they saw the Lord Jesus alive.
So, the two tools that we see Jesus using as an apologetic, as a defense of the faith, in Luke 24 are the Scriptures and his resurrection. Jesus showed that hundreds, even thousands, of years before his ministry, God promised all he would do. Read Psalm 22 or Isaiah 53 sometime and see the perfect predictions of the sacrificial work of Jesus. And then Jesus proved all this was true of him by fulfilling the prophecies even to the point of rising from the grave after his sacrifice.
I think there is a wisdom in Christians understanding apologetics to a point. I think there is good in knowing how to help people see that their own arguments have holes in them so that they might listen to the truth we proclaim. But, at the end of the day, I believe that we have only the tools that the Lord Jesus has given us to really help people to believe. By the Spirit of God, we prayerfully use the Scriptures and the resurrection as our arguments. Regardless of the issue at hand, the Bible and the fact that Jesus is alive are our powerful arguments to help people to grasp that all that Jesus said about himself is true and that he is the only hope of all in this lost and dying world.