Max Panks of the London Touring Cast portraying Jesus in Risen! The Musical, New Theatre Royal.
“Glorious in His Humility” featuring Lucy Stimpson-Maynard from the album “Love is the Way” recorded and produced by Bob Ross and John Hodgkinson
As this is Easter week In my last blog I said that I would consider whether or not Jesus actually died on the cross. To do this I will take extracts from my blog of July 9th 2015
As St Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:14 “And if Christ has not been raised then our preaching is futile and so is your faith.” I could also add and Risen!- The Musical would be a waste of time.
In the blog of April 23rd 2015 which focused on Mary Magdalene I made the point that if the Gospels were made up then they would surely have written that Jesus was first seen alive after the crucifixion by a man and not a woman as, at that time in Israel, the testimony of women was considered to be virtually worthless and was not even admissible in court. In the words of John in Risen!- The Musical “No there’s only one reason why first appearing to a woman would make any sense and that is if it were true and it is I can assure you there is no pretense.”
I have also made the point that if all the disciples bar John were martyred for their faith why would they have endured brutal deaths for a lie? I have heard one argument compare their martyrdom with those that caused 9/11; they also being prepared to die for a cause they believed in. However those involved in 9/11 committed suicide with the intention of killing others as part of a strategy for furthering their cause. The disciples did not commit suicide but chose to be murdered by others rather than deny Christ -also their deaths did not knowingly lead to the deaths of others, so I think comparisons between the two cannot be justified.
So what are the arguments for not believing that which Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Paul wrote? One argument is that there is little evidence for the Resurrection outside the Bible, another queries the authenticity of Gospel authorship whilst another that the Gospel accounts themselves are unreliable and contradictory.
For those that argue that there is little evidence of the Resurrection outside the Bible I would say that in those days only learned scribes could write and as that in itself was a slow process people transferred information by word of mouth (known as the oral tradition). I can hear the sceptics now talk about “Chinese whispers” -how something said can have its meaning dramatically changed as it is handed down from one person to another. That, however is not the case if is the information is considered “precious” for then people ensure that it is remembered correctly. Take, for example the words of Shakespeare or of Wordsworth- someone would soon shout out “Wrong- it’s suffer not inflict” if they heard “To be, or not to be, that is the question: whether ’tis nobler in the mind to inflict the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.” Or “I wander lonely as the moon.” – “No, no it’s a cloud not the moon!”
To those who contend that there are no contemporary books outside the Bible claiming Jesus was raised from the dead I would ask “Why are there no contemporary books written claiming that Jesus was not raised from the dead? “ Obviously Both the Romans and Jews had people who could write so that’s not the issue. The Romans would surely have wanted to disprove Jesus’ Resurrection because it interfered with their worship of the Emperor (the reason why so many Christians were martyred; thrown to lions etc) The Jews, especially the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law, had been heavily criticised by Jesus and it was they who initiated His crucifixion so it was in their best interest to disprove the Resurrection. An example is Saul, a zealous Pharisee who, before his conversion and change of name to Paul, was throwing Christians into prison. So I would say that there were many who would have benefited from proving Jesus was not raised – so why didn’t they write down their proof? Surely that’s obvious – they had no proof – they had no corpse to produce – they could not persuade Jesus‘ followers to deny Him no matter how badly they were treated. Writing a book on the non -Resurrection of Jesus was not worth their time or their ink!
But perhaps the people who saw Jesus alive hallucinated, or perhaps the disciples of Jesus stole His body or perhaps He did not actually die on the cross but merely “fainted.” I’ll look at these claims next week.