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No Stone Unturned

You will seek me and find me

when you seek me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:13

What do we really know about Pontius Pilate, the Roman Prefect who ruled over Judea and sent Jesus to the cross? Yes, he is mentioned in all four gospels and by the Roman-Jewish historian Josephus, but hardcore evidence of his presence on earth—like coins with his image or a papyrus with his seal—don't exist.

If the presence of Pontius Pilate isn’t credible, how could anyone believe the story about Jesus’s death, let alone the resurrection?

I was raised to believe in God. It might be more accurate to say that I was raised to fear God. As a child, I imagined the Great Almighty as the ultimate Big Brother who was always watching to catch me when I screwed up. Saturdays were when I had to admit my sins to the priest in the confessional, say my penance of Hail Marys, and promise to try harder. (Yes, I was raised Catholic.) It was a never-ending cycle that did nothing to strengthen my relationship with my creator, but it certainly kept me on my toes!

Then somewhere in my thirties, I attended my first Christian getaway called a Cursillo weekend. This 72-hour retreat is designed to strengthen a believer’s faith and provide her with practical tools to grow closer to God. Think of it as Boot Camp for Christ.

Cursillo was the event that kick-started my relationship with Jesus. It didn’t solidify it, but it got me thinking. Though I walked away from the weekend with more questions than answers, at least I was curious. And that curiosity was enough to make me seek God in scripture and hope that everything I read was true.

Sometimes doubt can be a good thing. In the Christian faith, doubt can lead to study, and study can lead to hope, and hope can lead to truth. As Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). He said this to Thomas after the disciple asked, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (John 14:5). I find it encouraging that even the disciples had to ask questions. If they were confused, I was in good company.

Shortly after Jesus’s resurrection, he met the remaining eleven disciples in Galilee at an appointed place. When they saw him, they worshipped him, but some doubted. (Matthew 28:17) Some doubted? Eleven men who spent the better part of three years with Jesus, who witnessed the miracles in person, who testified to his crucifixion, who knew he was placed in a tomb for three days, who then saw him alive… some of these men had doubts!

Yet, despite their doubts, rumor has it that all but one of the original disciples (John) was martyred. Peter was crucified upside down. Philip’s ankles were impaled with iron hooks so he, too, could be hung upside down to die. Thomas was pierced by spears, James was beheaded, and Matthias was burned.

No one in their right mind dies for a lie, so somewhere along the way, their faith superseded their doubt. What changed? How did these men go from questioning to evangelizing?

The Book of Acts tells us that the resurrected Jesus appeared to the disciples over a period of forty days and spoke to them about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:4-5)

The Holy Spirit is available to all of us—not just to the original disciples. Jesus did not leave us alone to struggle through this world; He left us a counselor, an advocate, an intercessor. But to tap into this power, we must seek Him. We must look for Him in scripture, in our lives, in our world, and in our hearts. Speaking through the prophet Jeremiah, God said, “You will seek me, and you will find me, when you seek me with all your heart” (29:13). That’s a promise!

In 1961, an Italian archeologist digging in the port city of Caesarea overturned a thirty-one by twenty-three-inch stone that brought clarity to the question, “What is truth?” (John 18:38). The stone was used to dedicate a pagan temple to the emperor Tiberius around 30 A.D. The governor of this Mediterranean city had his own name inscribed on the stone: Pontius Pilate. There was proof.

God has much he wants to reveal to each of us. We declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began (1 Corinthians 2:7). There are truths waiting to be discovered. So, lean into your doubts. Open your hearts. Seek answers. Leave no stone unturned.

THE SONG THAT COMES TO MIND is I Have This Hope by Tenth Avenue North.

Lyrics: “As I walk this great unknown, questions come and questions go,” and “I don’t want to live in fear. I want to trust that You are near.”

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