No Apologizing

"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." 1 Peter 3:15

Tag Archives: Apostles

TGIF? 2013


The Pastor of Legacy Church, Kevin Barnes wrote this post in 2010.  It is a great post that I try to put out every Good Friday.  If you happen to be in the Kansas City North area this weekend please be sure to check out Legacy Church on Sunday morning at 9:30.

 

Thank God it’s Friday? Not for these guys… Not today.  This day held more anguish, pain, panic and despair than all the days from the beginning of time combined…  Today was so indescribably bad because it was such a stark contrast with the highs they had experienced over the last 3 ½ years – especially this last week – even earlier last evening had been intimate, festive, warm and safe!

Not now… Now He was gone and they were scattered – scurrying like roaches when the lights come on, because… HE… was… DEAD… And Hope was no more.

Let me explain by backing up a bit. For centuries their people had been waiting – waiting for a man sent from God who would make everything right… A man who would restore all things to the way they should be – one who would rebuild the bridge to God that we had broken so long ago… one who would bring Freedom to the captive… Hope to the desperate… and Love to all.

This waiting wasn’t just wishful thinking. Scriptures spoke about Him over and over and over… on every line of every page.

Now He was here! They were absolutely 100% sure of it! He was born into the right family, in the right town at the right time… He was there when they most needed Him and He was doing all the things Scripture said He would! They said He would be a prophet, and He boldly taught about God’s Kingdom and fearlessly spoke of the future. The prophets said He would be a healer, and they had seen Him give sight to the blind, restore strength to the cripple, open the ears of the deaf… even raise 3 people from the dead!

But He wasn’t just any prophet… and He wasn’t a typical physician, nor was He a magician. This one had a power and air of authority they could not explain.  For goodness sakes, evil spirits and even the elements obeyed His voice!

Earlier that week, as they entered the city for the festival, people flooded the winding road that lead down the hill through a garden full of olive trees. They screamed out His name! They just knew NOW was the time He would set the wheels in motion to take His rightful place – to become King! But they didn’t understand that on this day when families across the nation would choose their sacrificial lamb, HE, the Promised One, was presenting Himself as the only sacrifice that would be needed… EVER!

That night, they retired to an adjacent town to spend time with friends – It was an exciting day and a restful and refreshing evening. The next day as they made their way into the city He cursed a tree for having no fruit… this was just a precursor to the events later that day… Oh, how encouraged they were as they watched Him enter the religious center of the nation and clean house… He drove out the corrupt merchants who were using the people’s religious hopes as an excuse to turn an unfair profit… and then He healed the sick there… The people were amazed, grateful and sang out His praises, but the leaders were enraged… His followers could scarcely contain their joy – the revolution MUST be beginning!

After another wonderful evening with their gracious hosts, they returned to the city to find the cursed tree was dead – What power! What a King! That day, they spent quite a while with Him on a special mountain overlooking the metropolis. He spoke about the coming destruction of the city – Could it mean that He was planning on mounting a rebellion against their oppressors? Could it be now?! They could only assume they would play central roles in the coming new order… They knew it was coming because they were confident in His right to rule and His power and authority to make it happen! They also knew that they, His chosen few, would get the privilege to eat with Him at a very special occasion tomorrow!

They did share that meal with Him… but before that He washed their feet – to them, it was like being knighted – What an honor and pleasure to be so favored by this soon to be crowned King. During dinner He prayed for them and made them new promises of how God would see and relate to them. They were confident in Him and His promise, but there was an air of sorrow in His voice and a look of grief in His eyes.

After the meal, they went back to the olive grove where He had spoken of the city’s destruction the day before – this time they went to pray. Then, one of their own, one they had hardly noticed had left during supper, showed up with a troupe of men armed with weapons and torches. As their friend greeted Him with a kiss, the guards seized their Lord!

What could be happening?!?! Chaos and panic set in… One of His followers drew a sword and cut off a guard’s ear. But the Master demanded they stop, and He even healed the man – Why was He letting this happen? The group of soldiers moved to arrest them all, but everyone but Him ran… one only escaped by slipping out of his clothing!

They could not understand; their heads were spinning! Through the fog of adrenaline and fear each of them did their best to lay low while keeping tabs on what was happening to Him – He had to be okay… How could they go on without Him?

He was put through trials by several religious and political figures. A few of the trials were illegal… all of them were rigged – they were shams. None of the inquisitions showed a shred of evidence proving Him guilty of ANY wrong doing – Yet, through it all He was punished and tortured and beaten to the point one could no longer tell He was even human. Then, the people who earlier had cried out His name in triumph shouted for His execution!

They marched Him naked through the streets forcing Him to carry His own instrument of death. But, as they were slowly killing Him, He begged God to pardon them. As He breathed His last, the sky darkened, the earth shook, the temple was damaged and the hearts of His followers melted and their hopes evaporated into mist… Sorrow reigned.

The next day’s headlines would not sing to the world the news they had hoped: A NEW REIGN AND RENEWED FREEDOM. Instead, they would be replaced by an obituary:

At the age of 33. Jesus Christ, of Nazareth, King of the Jews, has passed. He died outside Jerusalem on Golgotha by crucifixion – Executed by the Romans at the request of the Sanhedrin for treason against Caesar and spreading subversion throughout the land. Death was confirmed by spear thrust through the heart. He was born in Bethlehem during the reign of Herod the Great. He spent His early life as a carpenter, but gained fame in recent years as an itinerant rabbi. The body is being held in the tomb of a friend, under Roman guard. Funeral services and body preparation are scheduled for after the Sabbath. He leaves behind a grieving mother, Mary; a Father, God… and many followers whose dreams were shattered, whose expectations were crushed and whose optimism was gone…

All because He… was… DEAD…

Would you die for a lie?


So….I have been out exploring on Google, and decided to Google “die for a lie”.  Of course the first two posts are negative responses to the disciples.  So I decided to peruse the blog posts, and came to the conclusion that they missed the mark on their analysis.  The same analysis is basically being used by any number of atheists and includes the following arguments:

1.      That there is no historical evidence that those listed in The Gospels as having seen the resurrected Christ even saw the resurrected Christ.

2.     If they were not given the option to recant, then they did not die for a lie.

These two points are what a number of Atheists will use to try to define the argument in a way that is not based in truth.

That there is no historical evidence that those listed in Acts as having seen the resurrected Christ even saw the resurrected Christ.

As always, I will be operating under the fact that every word in the Gospel’s and Acts is 100% reliable, historical, fact (because it is).

I have always looked at Acts as the sequel to the Gospels (metaphorically speaking, not the literal sequal).  The Empire Strikes Back to the Star Wars.  The Spiderman 2 to Spiderman 1. The….well you get the idea.

Towards the end of the Gospels, Christ has been crucified.  The Disciples have fled.  Peter has denied Jesus three times and fled.  The disciples were on the verge of giving up, they were hopeless.  Any number of descriptions can be used here.  The key is that the disciples thought that Christ was a King.  No matter how Jesus tried to emphasize it wasn’t what they thought, they believed him to be an earthly King.  When he died… they did in fact wonder… So what happened?  Basically this same group who were despondent upon the death of Christ turn around and begin preaching that he was in fact God and had been resurrected as the book of Acts gets going.

So let’s put this into context.  These men had witnessed His arrest.  Some of them scattered after that.  At least one of them witnessed his actual crucifixion.  All of them knew about his death.  So what would convince these men to go preach the deity and resurrection of Jesus?  Not only that, but what would convince them that they needed to preach this in the face of beating’s, flogging’s, imprisonment, and ultimately… death?

The actions of individuals are always motivated by events.  That is human nature.  So the more appropriate question… what event took place that caused these men to go and spread the word?  Acts says it is one event.  Not just the resurrection of Jesus, not the empty tomb, but Jesus appearing before them in the flesh.

Now, in some of these posts I saw online there were comparisons to the people who died for Heaven’s Gate.  You remember… the cult that committed mass suicide?!  David Koresh is another popular tie-in here for Atheists.  The Atheist wants you to believe that these people died for a lie.  They would be correct in their observation.  But their observation is under the auspice that the Gospel accounts and Acts are not 100% truth.

Here is the primary difference between the disciples and Heaven’s Gate.  The disciples would have known that the whole thing was a lie.  Think about this for just a second.  Jesus had said that he would die and be resurrected three days later… If Jesus had NOT revealed himself to them… would they have gone and preached the resurrection?  NO! They would have known that the whole thing was a hoax.  Would they have perpetuated this hoax to become famous or rich?  History (Acts specifically) shows that this most certainly was not the case.  As a matter of fact only death, beatings, and imprisonment awaited these men. For the atheists’ analogy to hold true either the cult members would have had to have foreknowledge that allowed them to know definitively whether or not their leaders were who and what they claimed. The facts are that these unfortunate souls were not afforded the opportunity to see the claims of their belief system crumble.

On the other hand, the Disciples’ actions are the definitive proof that something happened to turn them from cowards to the very definition of courage.  That event was documented in the Gospels, and in Acts.  It could only be one thing, Christ himself in the flesh.

If they were not given the option to recant, then they did not die for a lie.

An Atheist will use this as the foundation to say that the Disciples did not die for a lie.  Instead they say that there is no historical proof that ANY of the martyrs were given the opportunity to recant prior to being martyred.  I say, that they absolutely were.

The presumption of the Atheist is that a Christian must be brought in, questioned and THEN be afforded an opportunity to back out on their previous claims – recant the story of Christ.  I would ask… why were they arrested in the first place?

To illustrate look at the persecution of Christians by Saul.

That persecution was more like a man hunt.  How do they avoid the man hunt… simply stop preaching the word!  Think about it.  These people were dying horrible deaths for being associated and accepting the label of Christ.  If it was a lie all they would have had to do would be to stop preaching, stop associating with other Christians, etc… THAT ALONE is an outright recant of Jesus and His resurrection.  But that did not happen- Which makes this all the more incredible!!!  At any given time these people could have said… I am tired of ALL of this, I don’t want to die… and simply walked away.

So what can we take from this… A very real event occurred that spurred these men into action.  That took them from despair to screaming about Jesus in the streets of Jerusalem.  That event had to have been real, and not some conjured up story that a group of men made up.  Remember most of the original disciples died a horrible death because of this event.  In addition… at any time they could have simply avoided it by denying they were Christians.  These men did not die for a lie.  They were perhaps some of the most courageous men in the history of the world.

Here’s what one of those very men wrote just before he died for his faith: “I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.  We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”

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