To Our Church Family and Friends,
I enjoy what has become a “tradition” at Easter time. I don’t know if “enjoy” is really the right word to describe what I experience as I watch the latest attempts to discredit the resurrection of Jesus. But I am fascinated in trying to understand what it is that causes people to buy in to some (what I perceive to be) crazy theories.
In recent years the “Swoon Theory” has made a popular comeback in Michael Baigent’s book The Jesus Papers. This is the theory popularized originally in a book The Passover Plot which says Jesus only appeared to be dead but was revived in the coolness of the tomb. And one woman posited the theory that Jesus was given an antidote to revive Him as part of a plot He hatched in His “last supper”. I find these ideas entertaining as they ignore all the evidence we have from Paul (our earliest New Testament writer), from the gospels, from Josephus, and from Roman sources such as Tacitus and Seutonius. These sources outside of the Bible even tell us Jesus “suffered the extreme penalty” and died from crucifixion at the hands of Pontius Pilate.
Then a few years ago we heard about “The Gospel of Judas” which is being touted as a plausible theory by CNN this year. The story of this “gospel” is that Jesus put Judas up to betraying Him. This is another case of something that is hype and not history. It was carbon dated to the beginning of the fourth century. The writer attached Judas’ name to the “gospel” to try and get acceptance. It was what was called a “pseudepigrapha” – false names/inscriptions (like the “gospels” of Barnabas, and Peter etc). Actually it is giving a false name to the document. This was looked down upon back in that era as it is now. And it contains all the signs of Gnostic theology – like Judas telling Jesus he will help Jesus get rid of his flesh and enter into the spiritual realm etc.
People are up in arms about the resurrection because of this one issue that poses a big problem for them: WHAT IF IT’S TRUE?! If the resurrection is true – it means Jesus really is Lord and they will be held responsible for what they have done with Him. And sadly, many would rather ignore Him and live like they want to live without thinking of one day standing before Him. We need to continue to reach out to such people with the truth of the greatest news that has continued to ring down the corridors of time, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.” (Luke 24:5,6).