Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Alright…I’ll chime in some thoughts on this whole Jesus tomb mess. I watched it the other night with my buddy…and potential future deacon…Brian. Brian is just now responding to the call God placed on him as a kid…anyway…that’s an entirely different story. But I wanted to watch this with Brian…I want him to wrestle with and be troubled by this. Nothing causes growth more than aggravation.

And the Lost Tomb of Jesus is aggravating to say the least. Because if they have found the bones of Jesus called Christ…the Jesus of the Bible…the Jesus to whom I’ve placed my faith…well…I’ll be one mad, no, one furious person. I don’t think words can describe right now the level of pure bitterness that would well up within me if they find the bones of Jesus Christ. The thought is disgusting to me…anathema…and this pseudo documentary really aggravated me…it bothered me watching dramatizations of the disciples taking the stolen body of Jesus and hiding it in a tomb for a year…it bothered me watching them dramatize them taking His skull and placing it in an ossuary.

Aggravating and disgusting as it might be…what if that or something similar to that actually happened? What if Jesus did not physically rise from the dead on Easter Sunday?

If that is the case then let every church close it’s doors tomorrow…we have no message and have nothing to say. If Jesus died and stayed physically dead…then go out tonight and eat, drink and be merry…because tomorrow or the next day or some day after that…we’ll die. And like Christ…we’ll stay dead.

As Christians our hope is in Christand if Christ is in the grave then our hope is in the grave. Think about that. What will end suffering? Is that not our hope? The end of suffering…the end of injustice…the end of poverty…the end of sickness…the end of hunger. The end of pain? Is that not what we all hope will someday be accomplished? Our hope is in Christ and if Christ is in the grave so is our hope. If Christ is dead then the only hope for those things…is in death.

Do you see what the big deal is? If Christ is not alive then why keep living? To what shall we live? Our children? They’ll die and go to nothing at some point…so to what grand thing shall we live if Christ is dead? Nothing is grand if Christ is dead. Eat, drink and be merry…until you die.

SO…this is a big deal. I don’t know what I would do if they found or some day find the bones of Jesus from Nazareth…the Jesus of the Bible.

I’m not a scholar in the ancient near east. I can’t read ancient Arabic and I know very little about ossuaries. I don’t know how many men named Jesus had mothers named Mary and so on. But here is what I do know and from this I can rule out the entire scenario of the Lost Tomb of Jesus.

The first followers and disciples of Jesus openly and boldly proclaimed, since three days after His crucifixion, that Jesus physically resurrected, appeared and interacted with them for forty days…and then He physically ascended into heaven before their very eyes. There is no doubt and no debate whatever that they were unambiguous and direct with that very message. I can not stress this enough…their message was that He physically resurrected…not spiritually or metaphorically…the first followers of Jesus suffered terrible persecution and even death because they would not compromise that essential component of the message. Peter for example, on the day of Pentecost publicly declared, “Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God…” A simple reading of this transcript recorded for us by the inspired author, St. Luke, makes this point clear. We first see his reference of David…he points out to his listeners that David died and was buried and his tomb remains to this day. This is set as a contrast to the situation of Jesus…according to Peter, the body of Jesus did not see decay but rather God raised Him to life and…most importantly…he proclaims that he, along with the others, were actual witnesses to this “fact”. As you study the book of Acts, the earliest historical record of the first days of the Church…you see this constant theme over and over and over…that Jesus was resurrected…physically.

The fact that the first followers and disciples of Christ made this a specific and emphatic point in their preaching is absolutely clear both in the Bible AND in the histories handed down to us from non-Biblical and even non-Christian histories and sources. There is simply no doubt whatsoever that the very message of the primitive Church was that Christ physically walked out of the tomb on “Easter Sunday” morning. I can not stress this enough…it is undeniable…from both Christian and secular history…from both believers and non-believers…it is undeniable that the primitive Church proclaimed that Jesus physically resurrected on the “third day”.

OK…that is a fact. That was the message…there is no doubt about it. These disciples and earliest followers of Christ carried this specific and clear message everywhere they…fled. These Apostles and earliest converts…almost from day one…where severely persecuted for this preaching. They would not recant nor would they compromise…Christ was alive…physically. Most of them died in gruesome ways. Now let’s think about this…if they were under such severe persecution…and we know with out any doubt at all that they were…why in the WORLD would they hide the BODY of Christ for the first year or year and half in order for it to dry out and decompose? Think about it…never mind the incredible feat it would have been for them to steal the body in the first place…knowing without any doubt that the very same year to year and a half that His body was drying and decomposing they were under going such gruesome persecution…why would they not have DESTROYED that body? Why would they have hidden something that could have so easily foiled their new movement? There is no way that they would have done such a thing! No way!!! They would have immediately buried the body in some obscure place and not marked it at all. Finding out that the body of Christ was down the street and around the corner would have ENDED the movement and exposed the Apostles as frauds and liars…there is no way in the world they would have allowed that body to simply rest in hiding while it decomposed! Are you kidding me?

Furthermore…since the KEY component of their message was the physical and bodily resurrection of Christ…if for some STUPID reason they actually did hide His body for a year or a year and a half…and if they actually DID put His bones in an ossuary…WHY WOULD HAVE THEY HAVE LABLED THE DARN THING??? That is STUPID! Again…that being found 2,000 years ago would have ended the Christian movement immediately. There is no way they would have marked the ossuary and placed it in some kind of family tomb for people to easily put the clues together and discover the Apostles and elders as liars!

I mean…come on! The entire scenario is not plausible at all…it is totally out of harmony with the entire message of those very first followers. Why would a group claiming that He physically resurrected hide, and not bury or totally destroy, the actual evidence…His body!? Why would they label the ossuary? Why would they do two stupid things like that…things that would ruin their entire movement if exposed? Why would they allow themselves and their loved ones to be so severely persecuted if they knew the body was down the street and around the corner? Why when warned to stop preaching His physical resurrection did they not capitulate, yield or give in?

My friend…it’s stupid to think His first followers did what is suggested in that documentary. It is totally out of harmony with history and common sense.

And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 1 Corinthians 15:14 niv


Crystal said...

Ooohh!!! Very interesting topic. We don't hear much about these things over here. Is it a really big thing there? I appreciated your comments on it, though. I sense that you are a good shepherd to your flock.

irreverend fox said...

thanks for your encouragement Crystal!

yep...it made a few waves...but after a few weeks of scrutiny much of it has been disregarded...

oh well...thanks Crystal!