By KT and The Whyman
In the past, the Discovery, National Geographic and History Channels have been notorious for giving expression to the skeptical vox populi with their screening of documentaries that question Scripture's reliability and infallibility in its account of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This post regards some popular myths and facts concerning Jesus' death and resurrection. (Consider this our pre-emptive strike in anticipation of the inevitable encore airing of said-blasphemous programmes on TV this Easter and Christmas.)
|Part 1: The Malicious Myths of the Misguided & their Medicament
First, the myths:
Detractors of the historicity of the death and resurrection of Jesus theorise that Jesus did not die on the cross but merely swooned. Other theories posit that someone else died in His place. Hence, Jesus was not raised from the dead since He did not die. Still others theorise that, Jesus did die, but remained dead and did not arise again. Instead some time in the night, His disciples stole away His body.
Now the facts:
1. There were extra-Biblical and Biblical witnesses
One of the basic principles of historical research is that if an enemy or hostile witness affirms an historical claim, then this is an indication of the historicity of that claim. Since this (i.e., that Jesus died on the cross and rose again in three days) is what secular anti-Christian writers record that early Christians believed and since it corresponds to New Testament teaching about Christ this is then, manifestly, the content of apostolic faith.
Thousands of early Christians, including the apostles who testified as witnesses of the resurrected Christ, died for their belief in the resurrection of Christ. This of course rules out the myth and conspiracy theories of the resurrection, because the apostles would never have died for a lie that they themselves had concocted.
2. Jesus' tomb was empty
Paul Althaus of the University of Erlangen, Germany, states: "The resurrection could not have been maintained in Jerusalem for a single day, for a single hour, if the emptiness of the tomb had not been established as a fact for all concerned.”
What is the evidence for the empty tomb? All knew where the tomb of Christ was (just a short walk outside the walls of Jerusalem): the Jews, the Romans, the disciples, Joseph of Arimathea, and Nicodemus. They all knew. The Roman guard was to protect the tomb with their lives; therefore the body was not "stolen." If the disciples had stolen the body they would have known that the resurrection was a fraud and would never have been willing to die for what they knew was a lie.
If the tomb was not empty either the Jewish officials or the Romans would have produced the body of Jesus to silence forever the preaching of the resurrection. Historian Ron Sider concluded that: "If the Christians and their Jewish opponents both agreed that the tomb was empty, we have little choice but to accept the empty tomb as historical fact."
3. There was a conspiracy to cover up the resurrection
The cover-up of the resurrection begins with the bribery of the guards. In Matthew 28: 12-15, we read: “And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, saying, 'Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him [away] while we slept. And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you.' So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.”
The implications of the cover-up are:
a. This cover-up attempt shows the depravity of the elders or priests; they know the truth of the resurrection, yet they reject it.
b. The cover-up also shows the priests' stupidity: 1) If the guards or soldiers were asleep, how would they know that it was the disciples that stole the body of Jesus away? 2) If a Roman guard were to fall asleep on duty, it was punishable by instant crucifixion. 3) The stone over the entrance took six men to put in place and was sealed. It would be impossible for the disciples to sneak past a regiment of guards and move it back, remove over 120 lbs. of embalmed wrappings and leave with the body undetected.
In conclusion, the attempts to discredit the truth of the resurrection all fall short, including speculations such as the swoon theory, the stolen-body theory, and the hallucination theory (see here
) that simply do not match the Biblical evidence.
Since the evidence for Jesus' death and resurrection is not only compelling, but also convincing, then Jesus Christ is who He claimed – the Son of God and God in the flesh. This same Jesus is also the One who created the universe and all the creatures in it (John 1). He is therefore the same God who has authored all life including yours and mine. This same Jesus is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who gave us the Ten Commandments that extolled the sanctity of life and taught us that we should not kill or commit murder (Deuteronomy 4), who taught that homosexuality was an abomination (Leviticus 18, 20), and who commanded us not to take the name of the Lord God in vain but to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, souls and minds (Deuteronomy 11, Matthew 22).
So what are you – professing atheist, skeptic and agnostic – going to do about this Jesus, whose resurrection proves He is the Son of God?
And what about you, self-professing Christian? What are you going to say to Jesus Christ on the day He judges the motives and legacies of Mr. Obama and Reverend Moon, Ellen DeGeneres and Oprah Winfrey, Simone de Beauvoir and Charles Darwin, and Mother Theresa, Noam Chomsky, Arthur C. Clarke, et. al.? Are you going to tell Him that He, too, is unenlightened? Homophobic and bigoted? A racist? Or how about backward and unevolved? Pixillated and out of touch with reality, perhaps?
Will you be one of the many who will enter by the wide gate that leads to condemnation and destruction? Or will you be counted among those who will choose to enter the narrow gate that leads to life?
Call on the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins while you are able and He will let you into His kingdom.
Part 2: Today, Tomorrow & Your Future.
Every day something untoward happens somewhere in this vast and wonderful world of ours to make us feel downright persecuted as Bible-believing Christians. Many of these events are demolishing longstanding conventions that have their foundations in Judeo-Christian traditions.
Not long ago, the mid-western state of Iowa in the United States turned the page on the traditional marriage institution by being the first state in the American heartland to legalise gay marriage. The acceptance of gay marriages, the slaughter of babies, the investment of gay pastors in the liberal churches – all are fulfilling the apostle Paul's prophetic warning of the last days when “ ... men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof:”
Paul warns the Body of Christ, and anyone that has wisdom to take heed, that “from such (immorality, they should) turn away” (2 Timothy 3).
Haplessly, Christians who are making the choice to turn away from immorality are being decimated in number with each passing day that brings with it apostasy from faith and truth in Jesus Christ. Especially disturbing is the fact that Christians in the United States are being divided on issues of morality and politics such as the actions of President Barack Obama, embryonic stem cell research, gay unions, euthanasia and abortion. Christians should really be supporting one another in matters clearly commanded by God in His Word of Truth, for this is their sine qua non by which others may know that they are Christ's disciples, as the Lord commanded; instead, they are, in fact, reveling in being divisive and causing disunity in the Body.
Why, even thieves are said to live by an anti-villainous dictum; aren't Christians held to a higher moral standard?
As if it's not enough that the members of the Body of Christ are fighting with one another from within, from without they are subject to the double standards with which the world's citizens apply their opinion towards matters of race, religion and morality to demonstrate their bias against, and disdain for, Bible believers and everything that is taught in the Word of God concerning issues of right and wrong.
These double standards are the most provocative where U.S. President Barack Obama is concerned. Criticise Mr. Obama because he sanctions the murder of babies and we are called racist. Similarly, when we condemn his policy of restoring investor-confidence in our sagging economy by ridding the banks of 'toxic assets' with taxpayers' money, we are still branded as racist. It's as if Mr. Obama is god and exempt from the honest scrutiny of governmental watchdogs. On the other hand, had George W. Bush been caught in a dealing that contravened the will of the American people or the U.S. Constitution, he would have been censured or impeached by both Americans and the international community sooner than we could complete this paragraph.
What's more, when a Bible-believing Christian teaches about the biblical truths of creation, sin, hell and moral absolutes, he is called backward; but when a skeptic teaches about the manmade ideologies of Darwinian evolution, Marxist social engineering, legal positivism and moral relativism, he is enlightened. Because the Bible-believing Christian wants to obey God by not endorsing the so-called rights of practising homosexuals to teach from the pulpit, he is called a homophobe and bigot that has committed a hate crime. However, a person who condemns Israel, who fights on the side of the so-called 'Palestinians' to raze to ground zero the so-called 'Israeli occupation of Palestine', and who sympathizes with suicide bombers, is commendably advocating for human rights.
It seems to be all right for the world to mock and criticise Bible-believing Christians in the public arena and private quarters. But as soon as a Christian turns the tables on Muslims, gays, the pro-choice, feminists, pacifists, environmentalists, Darwinists and the supporters of the U.S. President, he puts himself at risk of being scourged by the Ayatollah and the world's leading Imams, the civil rights activists and even other self-professing Christians. The world is outspoken when it comes to accusing Bible-believing Christians of a variety of phobia, brain disorder, and being detached from reality for upholding their convictions concerning homosexuality, abortion, Darwinism and Middle-Eastern policies; and the world is unmitigable when it comes to dubbing Bible-believing Christians modern-day Pharisees for daring to judge immorality and oppose popular consensus on moral issues.
On the other hand, many Christians appear to go into hiding and cower in fear at the convoluted persecution of their fellow-believers. Where is the voice of reason and dissent from fellow-Bible-believers, such as the Christian Think-tanks and apologists, when the world, the Imams and the media are reportedly disparaging Christians and reviling Christianity? Why is the Pontiff mum and where is the voice of protest from the Vatican? Why isn't the world accused of Christophobia for attacking a Christian the way Christians are accused of homophobia for their stand against gay marriages? What's worse, Bible-believing Christians are virtually silent when the Lord Jesus Christ is satirised in cartoons, caricatured by talk show hosts and blasphemed on television and in movies. God forbid that the Prophet Mohammad should be denigrated in like manner in books, the media or private conversations. Were these to be exposed, their perpetrator's certain death would be the Ayatollah's sole mission in life.
Can you still call yourself a Christian and not feel persecuted in this wicked age? Nevertheless, Bible-believing Christians are assured that this persecution is a momentary storm in a teacup; for those of us who have placed our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ can stand on God's promises that Christ will soon return to put right all that has gone wrong. The Second Coming of Jesus Christ is a time when all the nations of the world will be judged according to their deeds, and Christ's coming in the clouds is imminent, an assurance given to His followers after Jesus had risen from the dead (Acts 1:9-11).
This weekend faithful Christians all over the world will remember the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as they observe Good Friday and Easter Sunday. In the midst of this sacred observance, there will, no doubt, be many who will once again debate the truth and reliability of the Bible's accounts of Christ's death and resurrection.