No Apologizing

Christian Apologetic, and Social Commentary in a world gone mad

Tag Archives: Crucifixion

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…

Advertisements

What Pilate said to Gaius…


I heard this on the radio a couple of months back and have been waiting to post it.

“… “It suddenly closed in on me Gaius, the impact of how trapped I was. The proud arm of Rome with all its boast of justice was to be but a dirty dagger in the pudgy hands of the priest. I was waiting in the room, Gaius, the one I use for court, officially enthroned with cloak and guard when they let this Jesus in. Well Gaius, don’t smile at this, as you value your jaw, but I have had no peace since the day he walked into my judgment hall. It’s been years but these scenes I read from the back of my eyelids every night. You have seen Caesar haven’t you? When he was young and strapping inspecting the legion. His arrogant manner was child like compared to that of the Nazarene. He didn’t have to strut, you see. He walked toward my throne; arms bound but with a strident mastery and control that by its very audacity silenced the room for an instant and left me trembling with an insane desire to stand up and salute.
The clerk began reading the absurd list of charges. The priestly delegation punctuating these with palm rubbings and beard strokings and the eye rollings and the pious gutturals I had long-since learned to ignore. But I more felt it, Gaius, than heard it. I questioned him mechanically. He answered very little but what he said and the way he said it, it was as if his level gaze had pulled my naked soul right up into his eyes and was probing it there. It seemed like the man wasn’t even listening to the charges brought against him as a voice deep within me seemed to say `You are the one on trial, Pilate.’ You would have sworn, Gaius, that he had just come in out of a friendly interest to see what was going to happen to me. The very pressure of his standing there had grown unbearable when a slave rushed in all a tremble, interrupting court to bring a message from Claudia. She had stabbed at the stylus in that childish way that she does when she is distraught. ‘Don’t judge this amazing man, Pilate,’ she wrote. ‘I was haunted in dreams of him this night.’
Gaius, I tried to free him. From that moment on I tried and I always will think he knew it. He was a Galilean so I delivered him out of my jurisdiction, but the native King Herod discovered he was born in Judea and sent him right back to me. I appealed to the crowd that had gathered in the streets, hoping that they were his sympathizers, but Caiaphas had stationed agitators to whip up the beast that cry for blood and you know how any citizen here just after breakfast loves to cry for the blood of another. I had him beaten, Gaius, a thorough barracks room beating. I’m still not sure why. To appease the crowd, I guess. But do we Romans really need reasons for beating? Isn’t that the code for anything we don’t understand? Well, it didn’t work, Gaius. The crowd roared like some slavering beast when I brought him back.

If only you could have watched him. They had thrown some rags of purple over his pulped and bleeding shoulders. They jammed a chaplet of thorns down on his forehead and it fit, it all fit! He stood there watching them from my balcony; lame from weakness by now but royal I tell you. Not just pain but pity shining from his eyes and I kept thinking somehow this is monstrous; this is all up-side-down. That purple is real, that crown is real, and somehow these animal noises the crowd is shrieking should be shouts of praise.
Then Caiaphas played his master stroke on me. He announced there in public that this Jesus claimed a crown and that this was treason to Caesar. And then the guards began to glance at each other and that mob of spineless filth began to shout, hail Caesar, hail Caesar. I knew I was beaten and that’s when I gave the order. I couldn’t look at him, Gaius. And then I did a childish thing. I called for water and there on the balcony I washed my hands of that whole wretched affair, but as they led him away I did look up and he turned and looked at me. No smile, no pity, he just glanced at my hands and I have felt the weight of his eyes upon them ever since.
But you’re yawning, Gaius, I’ve kept you up. And the fact of the matter is you are in need of some sleep and some holidays. Yes, sleep. Claudia will be asleep by now. Rows of lighted lamps line her couch. She can’t sleep in the dark anymore. No, not since that afternoon you see, since the afternoon when the sun went out and my guards executed him. That’s what I said, I don’t know how or what or why—I only know that I was there and though it was the middle of the day it turned as black as the tunnels of hell in that miserable city and while I tried to compose Claudia and explain how I had been trapped she railed at me with her dream. She has had that dream ever since when she sleeps in the dark—or some form of it—that there was to be a new Caesar and that I had killed him.
Oh, Gaius we have been to Egypt to their seers and magicians. We have listened by the hour to the oracles in the musty temples of Greece chattering their inanities. We have called it an oriental curse that we are under and we have tried to break it a thousand ways, but there is no breaking it.
Do you know why I kept going, Gaius? Deep within the curse is the haunting, driving certainty that he is still somewhere near, that I still have some unfinished business with him, and that now and then as I walk by the lake he is following me and as much as that strikes terror I wonder if that isn’t the only hope. You see, Gaius, if I could walk up to him this time and salute him and tell him that now I know that whoever else he was he was the only man worthy of his name in Judea that day. Tell him that I know I was entrapped—that I trapped myself. Tell him that here is one Roman that wishes he were Caesar. I believe that would do it wouldn’t it Gaius? I believe he would listen and know I meant it and at last I would see him smile.
Quiet tonight isn’t it Gaius? Not a breeze stirring by the lake. Yes, goodnight. You had better run along. Would you please waken the slave outside the door and tell him to bring me a cloak, my heavy one please. I believe I will walk by the lake. Yes, its dark there, Gaius but I won’t be alone. I guess I really haven’t been alone—not since that day. Yes goodnight, Gaius.”

TGIF?


Today was the day...

This is a post we wrote on Good Friday Last year… Thought you may enjoy reading it again and reflecting upon just exactly what Jesus did for you… If there is any significance in the shape of Laminin, this event is the reason why.  More Easter-themed posts will be up tomorrow and Sunday.

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…

Here we go again…ANOTHER discovery that changes everything!


So I pull up my msn.com home page today to discover…that the nails used to crucify Jesus

THE nail...or just a nail?

have been found.  Incredible?  Perhaps not.  Color me skeptical here, but how does one prove that these are the actual nails used during the crucifixion?  In an interview, the Naked Archeologist Simcha Jacobovici says that these are the actual nails used… because they went (mysteriously) missing from the tomb of Caiaphas.  These nails were documented/found in the tomb.  There were two of them…so the assumption is that these must be the nails. 

I will/must grant…that I have not seen this movie yet.  However, given the history of Mr. Jacobovici I am sure that most of it will contradict the Bible in some form or another.  His “documentaries” are well known for assertions that require a leap of faith (really more heresy than anything)…so to speak.  He is after all the one who brought us the tomb of Jesus where the son of Jesus was buried with him…next to Mary Magdalene (whatever)… It would appear that this may be another publicity stunt.

On the outset Mr. Jacobovici must overcome two obstacles: 1. The IAA (Israel Antiquities Authority) has never proven that the tomb was the burial place of the Biblical Caiaphas and 2. Nails are often found in tombs. 

Really the only way he could prove beyond doubt that these nails pierced Jesus is through a DNA sample…

Jesus, the community organizer


I was having a conversation with my mother in law the other night.  She had mentioned that she got into a conversation with someone and community organizing came up.  To be clear, this someone is, someone who does not believe in the Lord, and has a liberal social agenda.  The words “Jesus was a community organizer” were spoken.  Interesting?  I could sense in my mother in law’s voice that there was a sense of frustration.  What do you say to something like that?  If I were to hear something along those lines my natural response would be one of disgust.  This statement is either one of complete ignorance or just an intentional dig at Christians and the politics of today.  I could tell from my mother in laws reaction from telling me the story that she was obviously frustrated by the statement.  .

We heard a lot of theories supposing Jesus was a community organizer during the presidential election in 2008.  But what does it mean?  One blogger put it like this “Jesus worked for the ordinary folks, who were disregarded by their leaders. He lived their lives and went through their hardships, organizing their communities towards hope”.  Various Bible verses are thrown around.  They typically center on the beatitudes.  Those who have made these statements (written or otherwise) have not provided any biblical documentation that Jesus was a community organizer.  Rather, those who would paint the Christ as a simple community organizer will refer you to snippets of the gospel that are taken out of context and with little biblical understanding on their part.  The irony… the vast majority of those that would make such a statement do not believe in God, or the deity of Jesus.  In that context, their insistence that “Jesus was a (just) community organizer” is an intentional degradation of the deity of Christ, and an attempt to belittle you for believing that the Son of God was nothing more than a community organizer.

First, I would like to offer this… The premise of this statement is incorrect.  Jesus is not simply a community organizer; he is the Son of God.  He delivered us from our sins by bearing our punishment.  Thus He is a savior not a community organizer.

So, let’s compare the job description of a community organizer to the historical events Jesus’ ministry.   So that we can make a valid comparison, first, let’s take a look at a typical community organizer’s job description, and compare it to the events of the Gospel.  Of course, job descriptions will vary from location to location – This particular list of responsibilities came from HERE.

Primary Responsibilities:

–          Function well as part of a team.

Jesus did not function as part of the team… He was the leader of the team.  In a modern context the ability to function well within a team means harmony, unity, not upsetting the apple cart, or any number of things that would upset the team dynamic.  Jesus set the dynamic.    This qualification would have fit more with the disciples…NOT with Jesus.

–          Identify and partner with local groups.

Jesus did identify with local groups.  This is evident in the way he was able to modify his teaching’s.  A great example of how He would identify with local groups would be to examine His parables.  His parables were often delivered in a context that the group He happened to be talking to (case and point speaking to a Pharisee when delivering the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37)).  This would achieve maximum efficiency.  The only partners Jesus had was God, and anyone who believed.  Unfortunately, most of the local groups in His time did not.

–          Develop and maintain communication with a broad coalition of grassroots groups.

There were a few grass root groups during the time of Christ.  One of the more notable ones would be the Zealots.  The Zealots were a group dedicated to the revolutionary, armed type of rebellion against the Romans.  Many of the Zealots thought Jesus was going to be that leader.  While Jesus was able to communicate with them, he never even really tried to build coalitions.  Jesus presented a simply message that required no coalition.  It was truth, and you either accepted it or didn’t.  Scratch that, Jesus did create a coalition for one thing… His crucifixion (Mark 14:53; 15:1, John 11:48-50).

–          Coordinate meetings and forums.

Jesus did have meetings and forums for instruction.  Most of the time they were opportunities that presented themselves and Jesus never let an opportunity to teach pass Him by.  Some examples of this would include the Sermon on the Mount, and Preaching to the Samaritan woman.

–          Facilitate participation in a collective decision making process.

Jesus did not participate in a facilitating decision making process.  Decisions that He made were not collective with the disciples.  Jesus operated under one authority only, God.  He did not solicit opinion from others as to what he should do or how he should do it.  Jesus was led by the Spirit of God (Matthew 28:18-19).

What is the conclusion one can draw from all of this?  While there are some aspects of the Christ’s time on earth that do mirror community organizing (meeting/forums) Jesus was not interested in anything other than the Kingdom of God and seeing people be a part of it, through salvation.  Two points can be made here:  1. Jesus was a polarizing figure. More importantly, He knew it.  Look at Matthew 10:21-22.  Here He talks about the division in families because of Him.  He talks on numerous occasions (John 15:18-25, Matthew 5:10-12) about how those that believe in Him will be hated in the world!  This is not harmony, this is not worldly hope… This is sacrifice.   2.  If Jesus was a community organizer He was one of the worst community organizers in the history of man.  Look at this from one simple point; Jesus organized the community of Jerusalem so well, that they BEGGED Pilate to crucify him.  Does that sound like success!?  Not hardly. 

The really odd thing about all of this is… Before He died, His followers believed He was a community organizer – The leader who was going to deliver them from the Roman Empire… the leader of the rebellion.  The disciples believed this all the way to the point where He appeared to them after His crucifixion.  Jesus was none of those things… (at least not yet)

I would like to return to the quote I found from a blogger, “Jesus worked for the ordinary folks, who were disregarded by their leaders. He lived their lives and went through their hardships, organizing their communities towards hope”.  If we rewrite this quote based on truth it would look something like this:

Jesus died for all, in spite of their sin or their feelings towards Him (good or bad).  He was disregarded by their leaders.  By coming to earth He is able to understand everything that you have been through (Hebrews 2:5-18).  While He preached a message of salvation and hope, He also preached a message of suffering.

So, if you hear someone say that Jesus was a community organizer, go ahead and tell them… “Okay, but He was terrible at it then because the community He was trying to organize killed Him.”  Aren’t we all glad that Jesus was a terrible community organizer?

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.”

The Obituary of Jesus


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…

%d bloggers like this: