The Disciples were willing to give up everything, even their lives. All but one of the disciples that saw Jesus after he rose from the dead, were put to death because they were not willing to admit that they had made the story up. Those guys saw something and I believe that it was Jesus coming back from the grave. Is it possible that they were just very stubborn men who were willing to die for a tremendous hoax? I would submit that statistically speaking that is an impossible premise. When you consider the following: Hundreds of others were killed in the following years, and millions have been killed since, even to this day. It is estimated that around 160,000 people per year are still murdered for following Christ.
People are willing to die for things that they think are real and meaningful, but if the disciples made the story up why was peter willing to be crucified upside-down? Why was James willing to be beheaded? Why was Philip willing to be beaten and crucified? Why was Mark willing to be dragged and torn to pieces by the people of Alexandria? Why was Matthew willing to be chopped into pieces in Ethiopia? Why was Stephen willing to have large rocks thrown at his head until he died? Why was Luke willing to be hanged from an olive tree in Greece? Why was Thomas, the one who doubted Jesus the most finally willing to die at the end of a pagan priest’s spear in India? These are just a few, the list goes on and on and on. The deaths become more and more gruesome as history unfolds. These followers saw something that they were so convinced of, that they died horrible deaths that we can’t even imagine.
Because they believed it with every ounce of their being. It’s the hardest thing in the world to believe that people can change who they are. If you read the stories about Jesus you see his followers as cowardly children, until the moment that Jesus changed them. And then they charged into the world like roaring Lions willing to be destroyed in order to honor their king. It’s still almost impossible for me to believe that people can change even today. However, right now all around you people are being changed by the power in the story and spirit of Jesus. If you haven’t read the story it’s time.