Playful, Pius or Remembered Stuff

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Resurrection evidence

We have a natural prejudice against testimony of the resurrection.  We know that the brain begins to break down and decay in a matter of mere minutes after blood flow ceases.  We just know that nobody can die and then come alive three days later.  So if we hear testimony to that effect we tend to discount it or look for another explanation.  But if Jesus is truly God and man in one unique person, the data makes perfectly good sense.  When the bible reader gets to know Jesus Christ, then the end of the gospel account seems to require the resurrection.  Even though it was a shock to the disciples, it makes perfectly good sense.  As Peter later said, it was not possible for Him to be held by death.

Now consider the documentary evidence with me.  We have literally thousands of copies of the New Testament documents.  It has better manuscript evidence than Homer or even Shakespeare.  Even the negative critics agree that the document called "First Corinthians" was written by the apostle Paul somewhere in the mid 50s AD.  Jesus' crucifixion is determined to be 33 AD.  Less than 25 years after the resurrection, Paul is saying in this book, that on one occasion the resurrected Christ appeared to a crowd of more than 500 people, most of whom were alive as he wrote.  Twenty five years is just not enough time for the allegation that over a period of time the myth of resurrection developed.

There was no body to expose (and there still isn't), and there were at least 251 witnesses prepared to take the stand and testify.  Honest scholarship at the very least must say that Paul, and the others, were convinced of the resurrection.  Even if you are not convinced, you must acknowledge that they were.  Now integrity of investigation requires that you satisfy yourself with the answer to the question, "Why were they convinced of such a fantastic event?"

I can only point you to the documents and ask you to read the testimony yourself.  Read the New Testament.  It will become evident to you that these were not the words of men who were foolish, demented or hoax-mongers.  God will begin to show himself to you as you read.  Try it and see.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Mary at Calvary

Parents are not supposed to outlive their children.  Everyone knows this intuitively.  But that is only part of the trauma Mary experiences as she stands at the foot of Jesus' cross.  As any mother she is remembering when his little hands would curl upon her breast, the tiny fingers like petals of a flower.  She kissed his skinned knee when the toddler stumbled.  She watched him play with other children in the streets, never to cheat or play unfair.  She remembered with great maternal fondness all those sweet memories that most mothers cherish.  While most of us think our children can do no wrong, in Mary's case it was literally true.

More than any other living soul, Mary knew this was the virgin born son of God.  Even Joseph needed divine revelation to inform him of this miracle.  Mary's best friends may have whispered behind her back.  But Mary was specifically told by the angel, and she was the thoughtful type.  She is known to keep all these things and ponder them in her heart.  She told the servants to do whatever he ordered when he began his ministry of miracles in Cana by changing water into wine.  She believed in him.  Later we will see Mary numbered with the roll of the first church in Jerusalem along with the other disciples and apostles.  She is definitely a believer.

But at the cross even believers were stunned.  Peter had recently rebuked Jesus for suggesting that He--the Messiah--must die and rise again.  His understanding of prophesy promised the Son of David to reign forever.  Mary must have shared some of that confusion.  Disciples on the road to Emaus remarked that  "we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel."  

Whatever else was on her mind, Mary must have remembered that somber prophesy of aged Simeon at the time of Jesus' birth that a sword would pierce her own soul.  Through her tears, Mary surely felt the thrust of that sword, loving Jesus, her precious son, and yet knowing him to be her mighty Lord as well. She did not yet know that He had to be made sin for us so that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.  Even though we know that much more than did Mary before the cross, we are still left without anything intelligent to say when we hear our Jesus cry out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"  It is a scene for us to witness, but not to comprehend with exhaustive satisfaction.  There is always mystery when we hear God talking to God.

But there was a special word for Mary.  "Woman behold your son."  At first she felt a stab of pain as she looked at her little boy now helplessly impaled, drawing her attention with his words.  But then he said to John, "Son, behold your mother."  And they both understood that even in his death, Jesus was keeping the law of God by honoring his mother and consigning her to John's care.

So we now can see both the active and passive obedience of Christ in this scene.  He kept the whole law for his people and suffered the punishment due to their sins.  That is a good day.  It is Good Friday.