Scriptspot weaves together a tapestry of current issues, biblical thought, language, and images. I have based it on the firm belief that we each matter and can affect the world around us by paying humble attention to God, to our nation, to those whose lives touch ours.
I often have conversations in which my faith in the person
and work of Jesus Christ, and in the Bible is either called into question, or
treated like one of those quaint little idiosyncrasies old ladies are prone to.
I’d like to speak to that.
Today we consider religious belief a kind of random
selection made on the whim of personal preference, like choosing a flavor of
ice cream. The attitude – the meme, if you must have trendy terminology – is
that nothing non-material is real. Those in the fashionable “know” see the
atheist as the brave realist able to look life in the eye and get on with his
purposeless, short existence. But they see believers as poor weak soulsL people who need to
lean on a fairytale, and who will be barely, and condescendingly tolerated.
It occurs to few that a religious belief can be based on
reality. I’m not sure most Christians even see their faith as based on fact, on
history, on ontological truth, yet it is. In fact the Judeo-Christian worldview
is the only world religion that can make that claim. Over and over again
archeological information surfaces that bears out the accuracy of the biblical
account (but that’s another post).
Because he is at the center of it all,I begin with the historical actuality
of a man named Jesus.
In fact, Jesus Christ, whose lineage can be traced back through
David (king of Israel from 1010 to 970 B.C.) to, and beyond, Abraham ( 2nd
millennium B.C.) is more thoroughly documented as having been a real person than
his contemporary Julius Caesar.Not only do we have thousands of biblical manuscripts that attest to his
existence, but we also have dozens of contemporaneous, extra-biblical sources
that mention him – Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, Pliny the Younger, Thallas,
Celsus, just to name a few. Many of these historians were antagonistic toward Christus and spoke ill of him, but no
one thought he was a myth, and as they argued against the Christian claims,
they inadvertently justified the biblical accounts.
(And I see no reason, if there is a God who created us (and
that’s another post), that He couldn’t have rearranged the necessary molecules
to impregnate a virgin, which is a fine, but important theological point.
Jesus, unlike the rest of us, was born perfect, and needed to be to do the job
he came to do – to absorb the wrath of God in our place. But, that too is
Was Jesus God? Yes. How can I be sure?
§He said so. In fact, he said so with such
clarity and certainty that the Jewish hierarchy had him killed for it. “I and
my father are one.” (John 10:30)*. There’s only one way to deal with this
outrageous statement. Either he was lying, (and if so, he wasn’t a good man
worthy of anyone’s attention and allegiance) or he was crazy (ditto). We’ve seen
lying, crazy men produce hysterical popularity – Hitler comes to mind – but
that allegiance doesn’t last. People have been sacrificing their lives now for
two millennia on behalf of the Christ, the God-man, and they have been doing so
because nothing he said was a lie and everything he said made sense, made sense
of an absurd and horrifying world. He didn’t tell anyone to drink poison Koolaide.
He didn’t profit from his ministry.No one, Christian or not, speaks of him as being crazy.
§That leaves only the third possibility – that he
told the truth and he was not only man but also, in some way our limited brain
power can’t understand, he was God. He backed up that claim by healing the
blind, the paralyzed, the lepers. (Did you know that even though the Law of
Moses contains several pages of instructions for dealing with the healing of a
leper, such a healing had never taken place, not in 1400 years, and the Jews
kept careful records of leprosy cases.) He raised Lazarus from the dead in
front of a whole crowd of witnesses – in fact his miracles were never secret
affairs. Something amazing was going on – this man didn’t just say he was God;
he proved it, and the accounts of his miracles were written by four different
eyewitnesses, at four different locations within decades of the healings –
better documentation than we have for most historical events that we accept
Not only was he God, but when his opponents finally killed
him, he rose from the dead. I am sure of it, for many reasons.
§Both the Jews and the Romans would have loved to
disprove this allegation and all they had to do was present the body. Easy. Yet
they never did. No remains have ever been produced.
§And the disciples couldn’t have stolen the body
because the Romans had posted guards by the tomb to prevent that. The stone
that covered the door was too heavy to move quietly at night while the guards
snoozed. And what would the disciples have gained by doing this? They were
terrified and didn’t want anyone to know they were connected to Jesus – they’d
seen what happened to him. (Interestingly, eleven of them died the same way
because they insisted on his actual, bodily resurrection.)
§Which brings me to my next point.You don’t die for a lie you thought up.
You don’t let someone nail you to a cross when all you’d have to do to get out
of it is to say, “Never mind. Caesar’s cool.”Thousands of early Christians were martyred. They could have
recanted, but instead they walked into the Coliseum and let the lions have at them
– they had to be very sure of Jesus’ resurrection, and by association, theirs’.
§Lastly, there is no way, after what the Romans
did to him, that he merely woke from his coma, in a cold, dark tomb, unwrapped
and folded his shroud, knocked on the door of the tomb (un-openable from the
inside) and sauntered out. Even secular historians have no doubt that he was
crucified. The gospel accounts all describe the horrors of his death and
medical experts agree that no one could have survived.
§He was so badly beaten he was unrecognizable as
§He was lashed with a Roman flagrum – a rod from which hung strips of leather knotted around
jagged pieces of rock, metal or glass. They almost killed him with that.
§They made him carry his cross on his lacerated
back most of the way up the hill to Golgotha.
§They nailed his wrists and ankles to the cross
and left him to hang there struggling for breath for 6 hours.
§Then, suspecting his death, a Roman soldier ran
his spear up into Jesus’ left side and out came blood clots and water. He was
dead; his blood was already separating. No normal human spontaneously recovers
from that – unless God Almighty raises him from the dead.
God has created us all with free will – so free that we are
allowed to disbelieve, to turn away from whatever obvious truth we choose to
ignore. And those who choose to discount the logic and evidence of the deity
and resurrection of Christ are free to do so. But all need to understand that
we who look at the historical support and logical progression of the gospels
and accept it as reality are not just playing video games. We mean it; we are
sure it is true in the absolute, quantum physics, mathematical sense of TRUE.
If we don’t leave you alone about it, it’s because we know what we’re talking about
and we are afraid for you. The crucifixion showed us what God’s wrath looks
like and we want none of that for anyone, let alone for those we love.
"He who believes in the Son has eternal
life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." (John 3:36)
"I am." (Mark 14:60-62)
• "Yes, it is as you say." (Matt. 26: 63-65)
• "You are right in saying I am." (Luke 22:67-70) a) Turn to John
Art from the newly restored Sistine Chapel -- Michelangelo Bounarroti 1475 --1564