Ocean Mist

2 Jul 2009

Knowing is Half the Battle

Posted by Phil

g-i-joe-logoRomans 5:7 famously states that, “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.”  This begs the question: what is worth dying for?  What has enough value that someone would die for it, even though that means they will not be around to experience the benefit of their sacrifice?  A good man? Family?  Country?

This brings us to Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.  There are many arguments made for and against the historical facts that Jesus was alive, was crucified, actually died, then was physically raised from the dead.  Some of the best evidence in support of these facts deals with the actions of the apostles.

When Jesus died on the cross, his apostles must have felt defeated.  They expected the Messiah to come, overthrow the Roman government, and establish a new kingdom in its place.  The Messiah wasn’t supposed to be humiliated, mocked, spit on, and the Messiah was certainly not supposed to die.  Dead men don’t overthrow governments and establish their own rule.  One instance of Jesus appearing after His death has the apostles asking Him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”1  They still didn’t get it.

Why would these 11 men go from scared, secluded and grieving to bold, public and rejoicing unless they had seen Jesus alive?  In fact, 10 of the 11 original apostles alive at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion were so devoted to to the idea that Jesus was (is) the Christ that they would go on to become martyrs for His cause.2  But others have died for ideas that were wrong, or that Christians consider wrong, such as other religions or even cults that are way off the deep end.  How does that make the apostles actions any different? For this, I quote Lee Strobel:

People will die for their religious beliefs if they sincerely believe they’re true, but people won’t die for their religious beliefs if they know their beliefs are false.3

It makes sense that someone (cult follower, Muslim, etc.) would die for something they believe to be true, but that doesn’t make their belief true.  The apostles were in the unique situation to know without a doubt that what they would be called to die for is true.  They could check the tomb and know whether it was empty.  They could refer to their personal experiences with Christ after His death.  They ate meals with Him and took walks with Him.  If they looked in the tomb and Jesus’ body was still there and if they never saw Him after His death, then they would know their beliefs were false and would never have gone through the suffering they endured to spread the message of Jesus.  They simply had no incentive.

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  1. Acts 1:6 []
  2. http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2009/04/what-happened-to-the-twelve-apostles-how-their-deaths-evidence-easter/ []
  3. Strobel, Lee, The Case For Christ (Zondervan, 1998) 247. []

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