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Blood-spattered-mural-of-Jesus-in-EgyptNon-believers often ask for ‘proof’ that God exists. Well, when He walked this earth and performed miracles, there were plenty who, even then, did not believe in Him, so what is it that is being asked here? Do these people really want to see Him come again in glory? Will they then swiftly declare their belief? If it is too late, will they snivel that it wasn’t their fault, if only He had given them ‘a sign’?

All three Synoptic Gospels record the frustration of Jesus with the ‘faithless generation’ which witnessed Him walking this earth. To the Scribes and Pharisees who demanded a sign He said:

But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.

As Mark records it: He sighed deeply in His spirit, and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Assuredly, I say to you, no sign shall be given to this generation.”

Not even the Resurrection, witnessed by so many, persuaded that faithless and perverse generation. Even those brought to the faith by St. Paul himself managed a bit of backsliding – as he chided the Galatians‘I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel.’ As St. Peter wrote:

For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.

St. John emphasised the personal nature of the message he delivered:

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life

The British scholar, Robert Bauckham, has done a brilliant job in his Jesus and the Eyewitnesses of examining all the evidence, and as one of the many reviews of this books puts it:

While it is true that some of his conclusions may be labelled as conjecture (i.e. the reason Cleopas was named), even his harshest critics must agree that his arguments for them are logical, persuasive and, above all, perfectly possible if not entirely provable. For anyone interested in historical apologetics, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses is a must-read.

I have never yet come across an atheist who has read the book, let alone engaged with its complex arguments. They do not wish to believe, they wish to reiterate a mantra which is a sort of crutch to them – namely that Christians are unintelligent and need religion as a crutch. I’ve never seen either allegation justified, and suspect it simply does duty as an excuse for not bothering to find out what it is Christians believe and why we believe it.

We should not, therefore, get too downhearted with this perverse generation, for it is in direct line with those who scoffed at Our Lord Himself. When we are mocked in His name, it is a badge of honour.