“You would not need faith if there was evidence for it” is one quip you hear over and over again from atheists and skeptics. This , it is conceded, while being a fantastic argument is one no human being can use without being hypocritical because we believe stuff there is no evidence for all the time. We go to sleep believing we will wake up, we leave our houses to go to work or school believing we will return, we part with friends believing we will see them again despite there being no shred of evidence for any of these things.
Again, one may argue that those are very minor things compared to a major decision like believing in God or accepting Jesus Christ as Lord. Leonard Ravenhill (1907–1994) once recounted how a pilot friend told him that if people knew how little their lives were hanging on when they travel by air, no one would want to do it. Yet we all excitedly book flights and select the best seats in them without demanding evidence of the pilot’s competence. Oh, the airline cannot be so stupid as to employ incompetent pilots can it? Exactly, this means you have faith based on zero evidence that the airline would not employ a pilot who is deaf, blind and armless, after all we never even get to see the pilot in most cases.
Like it or not, human beings live a good chunk of their lives by faith. That said, faith in Jesus Christ remains life’s biggest decision in God’s estimation (1Timothy 2:4). This was of utmost importance to Jesus Christ (whose sole mission on earth was to seek and save the lost) and the only way to be saved is to believe in Him as Lord but did Jesus demand people believe in Him blindly or did the disciples or anyone in scripture for that matter believe in Jesus Christ blindly?
First, Jesus’ sermons and utterances were unique. So much so that the soldiers sent by the Pharisees to arrest Him came back empty handed saying,
“Never man spake like this man.” (John 7:46)
The crowds were amazed at His doctrine because He taught as one with authority (Matthew 7:29, Luke 4:32). It was His utterances that caused the people of Samaria to believe Him,
“And many more believed because of his own word; And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.” (John 4:41–42)
Secondly, Jesus’ miracles were to such a degree and dimension never seen before. In response to the healing of the paralytic, the crowds,
“…were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.” (Mark 2:12)
In fact when John sent disciples to verify if Jesus was the Messiah they had been expecting, His response was to perform a string of miracles and send a report of them to John (Matthew 11:6). Many people followed Jesus only after He healed them, blind Bartimaeus followed Him (Luke 10:46–52) , the blind man healed at the pool of Siloam followed Him (John 9:35–38), the healed demoniac begged to follow Him (Mark 5:17–19), even the crowds followed Him after He fed them with five loaves and two fish (John 6:26).
Thirdly, Jesus’ lifestyle was extraordinarily spotless. Nobody could find fault in Him. Peter wrote that He did no sin (1Peter 2:22), John said in Him is no sin (1John 3:5), the multitude confirmed that Jesus did everything correctly (Mark 7:37) and even Pontius Pilate, His judge said three times that He found no fault in Him (Luke 23: 4, 14 ,22). A track record no one can boast of.
Fourth, Jesus’ prophesies were uncannily accurate, whether it was of who they would meet when they were to set up the Passover feast (Mark 14:13–15), or of Peter’s tripartite denial of Him (Mark 14:30) or of events that would herald His coming (Mark 13) or of His own death and resurrection(Mark 9:31) or of the Holy Ghost (Acts 1:8). Some of these prophecies were so powerful that the disciples continued to recall them after His death(John 2:22, Acts 11:16). Hence He was regarded by the vast majority of Israel as a prophet mighty in words and deeds (Luke 24:19).
Fifth, Jesus’ death and resurrection was something the disciples saw and knew first hand, Luke records that He showed Himself alive to His disciples by many infallible proofs (Acts 1:3). Jesus even went further to satisfy Thomas’ doubts by allowing him place his finger and hand in His prints and sides (John 20:25–29). Hence Peter continually affirms that he and the other apostles were witnesses to Jesus’ death and resurrection. Keep in mind that the criteria for selecting a replacement for Judas Iscariot was that the person had to be a witness to the life of Jesus from His baptism by John to His ascension(Acts 1:21–22) and from these, two names were pulled out, meaning there were many other witnesses to the resurrection of Christ besides the apostles.
Finally, observe that after Jesus’ resurrection He never walked through any door. He just kept appearing in the midst of His disciples (Luke 24:36, John 20:26). In light of that, do we really think He needed the stone rolled away from the tomb in order to emerge from it after His resurrection? Absolutely not! The stone was rolled away so that men could see it was indeed empty.
In conclusion, Jesus never advocated blind faith, He Himself said,
“If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not” (John 10:32)
And to Philip He said,
“…Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me or else believe me for the very work’s sake” (John 14:11)
And again in public prayer before raising Lazarus from the dead,
“…I know that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.” (John 11:42)
And in His final hours before the cross,
“If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin…If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin” (John 15:22–24)
Jesus did not just demand people believe in Him for no good reason, on the contrary, He was very careful to observe He gave them good reason to. So let everyone believe what they will but take note that just like those in Jesus’ day, we who believe in Jesus Christ today have good reasons why we did so, do so and will continue to do so.