The truth of the resurrection is powerful. It has the power to transform the way you life your life. Listen as Mark Holland talks with Ryan Bunbury of Calvary Christian Assembly about why the resurrection is essential to the Christian faith and why we all need to pay attention to all the evidence that the resurrection happened and changes everything.
Purposely your life, God’s purpose. Listen at onpurposely.com. In His Steps, a Holy Week journey.
Mark Holland (00:13):
And once again on a journey In His Steps. We’re into day number eight, the big day Easter Sunday, talking with various pastors in our area and I don’t know how Ryan Bunbury of Calvary Christian Assembly got the big day to talk about. But welcome Ryan!
Ryan Bunbury (00:30):
Thank you. Good to see you. Thank you so much, Mark. This is
Mark Holland (00:32):
Great. Good to meet you. Hey, just talking a little before we started recording today, you’ve been with Calvary Christian Assembly for just a few years now. Just kind of came in just before the Covid Pandemic.
Ryan Bunbury (00:42):
That’s right. We came in, we’ve lived in the northwest since 2016, moved from California and we’ve been at Calvary since 2019 right before Covid. So it’s been exciting.
Mark Holland (00:54):
Well, I always know Calvary Christian Assembly as the church by the I-5 Freeway. You got a big sign on there, but you have kind of different outreach now. Tell us a little bit about Dear Seattle, Jesus loves you.
Ryan Bunbury (01:06):
Yeah, sure. So we’re, a lot of people know us as you know, the church, the Jesus Loves Seattle church. And if you’ve ever driven I-5 and you’re, you’re going northbound, you’ll see the Jesus Loves Seattle sign. And that’s just kind of what we’re all about. We tell people all the time, if you know anything about Calvary, if you know anything about me as a leader, I’m all about Jesus and helping people find and follow Jesus. It’s our sole purpose and mission. It’s what wakes me. It’s what woke me up this morning. Mark. Jesus.
Mark Holland (01:37):
Yes. Well, I think in some ways he wakes us all up.
Ryan Bunbury (01:40):
Right. It’s a big deal. So we just want the world to know Jesus loves you, and it’s the heart of the gospel. It’s the heart of our Father. So we’re preaching it and teaching it and leading people that way. Starting with our neighbors, actually starting in our living room, actually starting right here, right now.
Mark Holland (01:58):
Well, what I love too, you told me too, reaching people who have dogs. Tell us a little about you guys put up, oh,
Ryan Bunbury (02:05):
You like that? Yeah.
Mark Holland (02:06):
Well see I have a dog. We have a dog feature on the radio and you were innovative in thinking, well boy, people have so many dogs in Seattle. Let’s make a dog park and a parking lot or whatever.
Ryan Bunbury (02:18):
So here’s the deal, we’re a 96 year young church, right time. So we’ll be May 1st this year will be lot of ground will be 97 years young, right? Wow. So what do you do at a 96, 97 year young church? Well, and you want to reach people, right? That’s the question. How can we reach people for this next season of ministry? Well, I just go get out and look around, start taking a pulse on what the need is, how you can engage the community. So that’s what we did. I’d go out and just hang out and meet people in the parking lot, shake hands and meet people, neighbors and…
Mark Holland (02:52):
Because people are always walking through your giant parking lot,
Ryan Bunbury (02:54):
Walking through it. But that, see, that’s the thing. We don’t want ’em to walk through. You want ’em, wanted him to stop and hang out and have some conversations. The ministry of conversations. So we started doing that and then we found out a lot of people have dogs that
Mark Holland (03:08):
Ryan Bunbury (03:09):
Seattle. So a lot of people have. So we thought, well, what’s something practical we can do? So we prayed about it and we thought one of the best ways we can reach people and it’s working is to envision a dog park. And so that’s what we did. What we got creative. See, we took the pee and we flipped it upside down. So if you walk by with your dog, you’re going to see it’s a dog bark. Dog bark. The neighbors are going nuts. They love it. Yeah. Okay. What’s fun about that too, if I can say is it’s really, and it initiates spiritual conversations. We’ve actually led people to Jesus in the dog bark. I’m not kidding. It’s awesome. If we had time, I’ll tell you, maybe I’ll tell you a story about Geo or some of the others, but what we’ve done is we’ve got created, put some benches in there, and on the benches, on the fence, there’s welcoming warm messaging as well as scriptures. We call ’em Jesus quotes. Wow. Right. Stuff. I am the way, the truth into life. Script. Old proverbs, we call ’em Jewish quotes too. Jesus quotes, Jewish quotes, where it says, good people are kind to their animals. Stuff to get ’em thinking and talking.
Mark Holland (04:16):
Well, these questions aren’t so bad after all.
Ryan Bunbury (04:18):
Just loving on people. But that’s the big message who we are. It’s what we want people to know is Jesus loves Seattle, so we love Seattle, and we’re doing it in practical ways.
Mark Holland (04:28):
Well, on this Easter Sunday, maybe a lot of people just taking their dog to the beach or the dog bark, but we want people to come to church. Right? You guys lot, lots of things going on. Of course, on Easter, Easter Sunday and Christmas, those are the big holidays. As we journey In His Steps, the big culmination of Easter., we were also talking before we started recording today, how the truth of the resurrection was so central to both of our conversion. I know for me, because I wasn’t raised in church, the truth of the resurrection was so important. Something happened to all these disciples to turn ’em from cowering people after the crucifixion of Jesus, to bold proclaimers of the gospel to the point where they’re willing to die for their faith. So this resurrection stuff is very central to Christianity. Even more so I think than Easter or Christmas.
Ryan Bunbury (05:22):
Yeah. Big, big, big deal mean when Jesus says, I am the resurrection and the life. So you know, talk about the turning point, the turnaround moment for these disciples, and there’s tons of scripture I I tend to lean in on the gospel of St. John the 20th chapter because Jesus shows himself to his disciples. Well he shows himself to the women. He shows himself to the disciples, he shows himself to the skeptic. Right? Yeah. So how do you, which resonates with me because that’s me, right? I mean that was you right? Before we absolutely considered ourselves Jesus followers, we were convinced as the, so how do you convince a city full of skeptics? That’s the question. Yeah. Right. That’s ministry. Well we think it starts by having a conversation, maybe even in the dog bark. But what do those conversations consist of? Well, spiritual matters. And more than not, it really is the ministry of listening. If listening is loving, if Jesus loves Seattle, and if we love Seattle, and listening is loving, then we’re willing to listen to the questions. And so, a lot of people are asking questions, a lot of people are skeptical. There’s a lot of skepticism that’s laced in those questions. So, this is a big deal, the resurrection… Now, by the way, I’ll, I’ll just say this, Jesus doesn’t ask anybody to blindly believe, right? You look and even look at the resurrection account in the gospel of Matthew 28 words like Matthew 28, verse six. It’s the one we always quote as Christians. He’s not here. He is risen. He has risen just as he said. These are the three words. He doesn’t ask us to blindly believe. Here are the three words. Come and see, come and see. Come and see what? Evidence. Why? Because faith is the substance of things hoped for. The evidence of things not seen. Well how do you have believe without evidence? So he says, come and see the place where he lay. Then I like this. Then go quickly and tell. So it’s twofold. Come and see, then go and tell. That’s exactly what you’re talking about happened. As soon as they saw the evidence, they were willing to go and tell even to the point of giving their life. It’s a powerful story.
Mark Holland (08:03):
I like too that the first people who other than the guards or was Mary Magdalene. Beautiful, I believe just makes such a point of that. The first P person to see that Jesus had risen was Mary Magdalene, who was probably one of the most sinful, if you can say that. Worldly people that was a convert to Jesus’ early ministry. What do you think that says about God’s redemption and what he’s trying to get across to people?
Ryan Bunbury (08:31):
Wonderful question. You’re looking, if we’re talking about the resurrection and talking about the factual evidence of Jesus resurrection, because that’s really how you and I made our decision to have faith in Jesus, was we looked at the evidence. Actually this is a huge point of that evidence because women as witnesses in, when this first century account was recorded, is a big deal. Now you got to understand culturally no one would have perpetuated a story with a woman’s witness. That’s just not, culturally would never have happened. Why? Because women weren’t considered reliable in court. But seeing the first century woman’s place, right? Here’s really the question would making up a story no one would find conceivable, have made sense by using a woman? Would that have made sense as the first people to see and then go and tell? Well no, that that’s actually, that would actually be a stupid story in their culture.
Yeah, for sure. Wouldn’t why in the world would I? Which is more that’s, this is evidence why they listen to a woman. That’s a big deal. So, when I think of this, I think we need to really wrap our head around the fact that nothing really has changed, and we need to be thinking in terms of leaning in on the evidence. People want evidence. This piece of the story is a remarkable sense of evidence when we consider the place of a woman, and what was recorded on account of a woman. And I love how this is the first piece of Matthew 28 is the birth, the dawning of a new day with a woman’s witness. Which by the way, when I say nothing has changed, aren’t we after the same thing? Isn’t this, if you think about it, the movies that are being made, the new leaders in Seattle, the growth and the multiplication of women in leadership, we’re in a turnaround moment even now.
And the witness of a woman is a powerful thing. By the way, I’ve been married 22 years and in my home my wife would say yes and amen. I have to show you a picture of my family before we leave because I love them so much. But my wife, that’s why actually we have made a point even in how we lead Calvary. We have made a point when we introduce ourself, we are the lead pastors of Calvary Christian Assembly, and her voice and my voice are one. My voice isn’t above hers, hers and isn’t above. We are, we’re together in this thing. And I think the power of that witness is more reliable as evidence because she’ll reach people that I can’t and I’ll reach people that she can’t. But together, just like in this gospel account, there’s a moment of, come and see, and then go and tell, and both women and men need to be doing that together.
Mark Holland (11:53):
Yeah. We’re in a time right now with Seattle Central seems like for atheistic, the nuns are in large supply here in Seattle. No religious affiliation. You say, it gets back to evidence. We were also talking before we started recording today about it’s both going to Israel recently and how again, seeing the historical facts of the Bible, the Bible isn’t just a storybook, it’s talking about real places, real events in history. And we believe the most central event in history is the resurrection of Jesus. This life that he lived, we’ve been journeying In His Steps. Why is history divided BC and AD, by this one person’s life? And even now, people we meet, people who don’t even know, don’t know, they think Easter is about bunnies and Easter egg hunts or Christmas, and Christmas is about Merry Xmas, Merry Xmas. But it’s really, it’s about this life and this evidence That’s right. That we can still find and people are still needing that evidence and needing that, Even just basic education about who Jesus was.
Ryan Bunbury (13:03):
That’s right. We look at the factual evidence of Jesus resurrection and there have been many, many scholars who have looked at this in depth and the exegesis of scripture and really the account, I like to focus in on a few things and I’ll just, if I can mention just a few things that absolutely have really convinced me, please, you know, look at details of the empty tomb. And if you study this at all, there are two popular arguments that deny the resurrection. And I know you’ve heard of this. The swoon theory which says Jesus never really died, that he lost consciousness and regained it in the cool tomb. And then there’s another theory that the disciples stole the body. Right? Well that story actually, scripture says, didn’t start anytime soon. It scripture says in the 15th verse of the 28th chapter of the gospel of Saint Matthew, that story cooked up in the Jewish high Council is still going around.
So nothing has changed. So people try to make stuff up about why there isn’t evidence. But again, let’s look at the evidence. Jesus is not asking anyone to put their faith… to blindly believe something. There’s enough evidence to have faith. That’s actually why guys like Nikki Gumbel with Alpha made a decision to follow Jesus who were professing atheists at one point. We know stories like that. So let’s look historically in factually at the evidence of Jesus resurrection. Well, scripture says the Roman soldiers crucified Jesus and his death was confirmed, but not just scripture. There’s a count of that. Historically, Jesus really existed. He really died and he was really buried. He was in a tomb. Right? Also, not only is his death, was his death confirmed, but the Roman soldiers sealed and guarded the tomb ensuring that no one could possibly steal the body. So, that historically, there’s evidence for that.
And if you study this enough, if you dig deep enough, you’ll find these things to be factual evidence. Again, for me, long-standing Christian, those that might be listening that have already bought in our right know these things. But I feel like on account of the next generation, we have to re-articulate what we’re talking about here today. What we’re talking about should not just be between you and I in our living rooms, and even within the four walls of the church. We need, again, we go back to the dog bark. Matt, let’s have conversations about evidence. When I went out to dinner the other night with one of our neighbors, non-believing neighbor, we were talking about prayer and spiritual things, and talking about evidence and factual things. We got to have these conversations with the next generation. So, we need to get back to some of these pillars of what we’re talking about here today and be able to communicate and articulate the evidence of the resurrection, so we can help more people see this.
This is the go and tell piece of what happened on Easter Sunday is, come and see. So we believe now we can go out and tell. By the way, if the disciples did steal Jesus’ body, wouldn’t their lives thereafter be based on a lie? Mark, what about the 2 billion plus of us, Jesus followers, we all be, wouldn’t this podcast just be based on a lie? Right? No, come on. Liar, you mentioned it earlier, lunatic or Lord? How do we move from thinking Jesus was just a lunatic to a liar, to our Lord and Savior? How do we do what Thomas the skeptic did when he said, Lord, Lord my savior, my Lord, my me, right when he proclaimed, how do we confess Jesus as Lord Romans 10, nine and declare and believe that God raised him from the dead. How do we believe this? Well, we look at the evidence, and we put our faith in the observable, scientific factual evidence that Jesus died and rose again. You and I would not be doing this if it were based on a lie. And I mean I can go on and on and on, but that’s one of the main pieces of evidence that I look at, the historical account of his actual death. And now that he’s alive, and I can go on if you want me to, man, I got I’m I will talk all day about the resurrection.
Mark Holland (18:23):
Well, as we’re, we’re kind of wrapping this up a little bit here, people listening this to this today, people on the fence, I find so often people really haven’t looked at the evidence. They haven’t looked at the historical facts of Jesus’ life. But there is a sense in which you can get a lot of head knowledge, but it does have to get into your heart. And it does have to get into, well, what does that mean for me? Why do I need Jesus? He is, you see all this evidence you guys, well, he is the Lord. Well then that means I’m somehow responsible to give my, he has a claim on my life. If he’s making all of these things about him are true, then he has a claim on my life. And so what do we do with that as somebody who’s maybe at that point where maybe he did raise rise again? No, none of these other religious guys did. None of these other religious leaders make those claims, but Jesus did. Yes. So he is, he’s not a lunatic, he’s not a liar. He is Lord. And what does that mean for me today?
Ryan Bunbury (19:30):
Very good. If I could respond to that Mark. When Jesus said, I am the resurrection and the life. That was one of the seven titles that he claimed for himself. I am the resurrection and the life and the gospel of St. John 11:25. And then if you see what he does there, he asks, do you believe it? Right. You remember that? I can’t, do you believe? So, you’re absolutely right. We have to make the decision whether or not we’re going to believe based on the evidence. Who else had to do that is Thomas. Thomas was one of the skeptics and I made mention of him earlier. And the account, there again, the doors were locked, these cowering Jesus followers, is he alive? And what happened? And then Jesus shows up.
Mark Holland (20:22):
He had appeared to some of them, but not all. Not all of them. He hadn’t appeared to Thomas yet.
Ryan Bunbury (20:27):
And so Thomas there, it says he wasn’t there. That’s a lot of people. That’s a lot of Seattlites. They haven’t seen enough to believe. Right? And so there’s a lot of skeptics around us, even in our families. We start there and so the doors were locked and then Jesus shows up. But you remember what Thomas, he says, unless I see evidence of what y’all are talking about, unless I can see it myself, I’m not going to believe. Right? Nothing’s changed. We’re all still kind of in the same boat. Well, you look and John says that these things are written that you may what? Believe. The entire account of the gospel of St. John. By the way, if you haven’t read it and you’re listening, start there. The gospel of St. John. Just start there. And John says he wrote it so that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name. Jesus shows up to Thomas and which he will for all of us in the exact way that we need, right? He shows up, and he shows up and he says, what? Stop doubting and believe. At that moment in your life, Mark, that is when you and I both in that turnaround moment, echo the words of Thomas when he said, my Lord and my God, you are my Lord. You’re not a lunatic.
Mark Holland (21:56):
That’s the Sinners Prayer if there ever was one.
Ryan Bunbury (21:58):
You’re My Lord. So we look at that and on the miracle of Jesus resurrection, that is the very thing that transformed cowering Christians into confident martys. And again, if we’re looking at evidence, we look, we have to look at none otherm but Stephen, the first martyr who said what? Jesus do not hold this sin against them as he was dying. By the way, factual evidence, Stephen existed. Steven was murdered. Steven was…
Mark Holland (22:30):
The first martyr.
Ryan Bunbury (22:32):
He was the first martyr, right? Factually, you can look at that. There’s evidence of that. How could a man if you were being murdered, right? I mean, think of that listener. How in the world would you be able to pray? Oh Jesus, don’t hold this sin against them, if Jesus had not revealed himself to Stephen, There is no way on earth anyone could even pray a prayer like that. That’s unbelievable. So you look at the evidence of the testimonies of transformation, Stephen is one of billions of testimonies that can give us factual evidence. Now, I can come off pretty strong because I’m passionate about this, and I, listen, this is, like I said, my sole purpose and mission is to help people find and follow Jesus. And again, it happens in the ministry of conversation. And the best conversation I I’ve had in this regard is around observable evidence. And there’s plenty of it for the resurrection. Yeah.
Mark Holland (23:39):
Well, people have been listening to this today. Maybe they’ve had a lot of conversations along these lines and they’re ready to make a commitment to Christ. They not really sure. They’d never prayed before. They don’t know what to do. Can you lead us maybe in a prayer for that person who’s a seeker and feels like they do want to commit their life to Christ, or at least they want God to show up? How would somebody pray? Kind of give us an example.
Ryan Bunbury (24:01):
Absolutely. Well, that scripture that I quoted earlier, it’s a Jesus quote, one of my favorites. Jesus says, I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies. And whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this? The gospel of Saint John, chapter 11, verses 25 and 26. And I can’t help but quote one more scripture as we lead into a prayer. And Jesus loves Seattle. And here’s, here’s how I know he does, because Jesus says this in John 3:16, for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. If you want to make a decision for Jesus, if you want to become a Jesus follower, it’s one of my favorite prayers. I actually pray it all the time, and I lead people in it all the time. And here’s the prayer. Just echo this. In your heart, you say, Dear Jesus, I repent of my sin. Please be my Savior and Lord in Jesus name. Amen. That’s it. It’s a simple prayer. Jesus, please help. I’m sorry. Come into my life. And that’s all he wants is relationship with you. Pretty cool.
Mark Holland (25:23):
And you’ve been listening to the Purposely Equipped series called, In His Steps, a Holy Week journey. Today featuring Pastor Ryan Bunbury of Calvary Christian Assembly in Seattle. For more details about the church, visit them online at ccassembly.com. Please leave us a review of this message so more people can discover this podcast and find more episodes of Purposely Equipped at onpurposely.com.