Something Happened [reposted/updated]
Something happened between the evening of what we now call Good Friday and dawn Easter Sunday.
Friday evening an iconoclastic preacher was nailed to a Roman cross at the behest of a clique of corrupt Pharisees.
Friday evening His followers had, for the most part, scattered with fear.
They were silent, and in hiding. The preacher’s ministry was over.
And yet within a matter of days His followers were not only seen in public, but they were preaching an even more heretical message --
The Pharisees applied direct action this time. Instead of waiting for Roman authority, they killed one of the preacher’s followers. They arrested others, throwing them in prison, beating and whipping others. They put one of their own young hot shots in charge of tracking down the followers where ever they had fled, arresting them, and dragging them back to Jerusalem in chains for trial and punishment.
Young Rabbi Hot Shot got only halfway to Damascus when Something Happenedto him and he went instantly from the followers’ greatest foe to the preacher’s most fearless advocate.
It was a transformational event, it changed everything that came after it. There had been other cults and religions that had suddenly sprung up and swept through the ancient world, but they had no roots; they lasted a few years, a few decades, a few centuries at best and then they vanished.
They were either repackaged ancient myths or, like the Mithra cult, of unknown and unsubstantiated origin.
There was no reality to them.
Which is why to this day there are those who eagerly seek to deny Jesus ever existed.
If Jesus exists, then one can’t simply ignore His teachings, one has to evaluate them and decide if they are true or false.
There is no middle ground here. As C.S. Lewis observed, Jesus was either a liar, a lunatic, or what He claimed to be.
There are some who deny Jesus ever claimed to be the only begotten Son of God. Mohammed preferred to think of Him as simply a very, very good man, a prophet of God, but not Divine in Himself.
In Qur’an sura 5 (Al-Ma’ida), ayah17, Mohammed recites: “In blasphemy indeed are those that say that Allah is Christ the son of Mary. Say: ‘Who then hath the least power against Allah, if His will were to destroy Christ the son of Mary, his mother, and all every – one that is on the earth? For to Allah belongeth the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and all that is between. He createth what He pleaseth. For Allah hath power over all things.’”while in Qur’an, Sura 112 (al-Ikhlas), ayat 1-4, he recites: “Say: He is Allah, the One and Only; Allah, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not, nor is He begotten; And there is none like unto Him.”
What we have here is a failure of imagination and faith. Imagination in that while acknowledging God can do anything He wishes, He cannot do something Mohammed can’t imagine.
God don’t work that way.
And that’s what was so shocking to the first century:
The Good News, the Gospel of Jesus was a radical break from previous human perceptions of the Divine; it was “news” indeed.
Some claim the Apostles concocted the story of the resurrection in order to start a new religion where they would be the leaders.
To throw out some Latin: Cui bono?
Of the original 12 Apostles + Matthias (Judas’ replacement) and Paul (who met Jesus after His resurrection), only one -- count ‘em, one! -- didn’t die a martyr’s death after a lifetime of hardship & deprivation and relentless threats & persecution.
As Lee Strobel points out in his book, The Case For Christ, human beings will die for what they believe to be true, but they will not die in defense of a lie.
No, if the Apostles had stolen Jesus’ body as the Pharisees accused them of doing, then it would have only taken one of the remaining 14 to blow the whistle on the scheme.
The Pharisees and the Romans and Herod had all kinds of carrots (money, power, privilege, position) and sticks (imprisonment, flogging, torture, persecution, martyrdom) to employ.
Who would die defending a lie? Especially a lie that wasn’t paying off in anything but blood, sweat, and tears?
No, Something Happened.
Something Happened to change everything, to give hope to the hopeless, courage to the craven, faith for the ones who felt abandoned.
© Buzz Dixon