Resurrection: It’s Good Even If Not True?

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth! Tonight, we’re going to be continuing our look at the doctrine of the resurrection based on 1 Corinthians 15. I’m only hitting what I consider to be the most important parts. A more exhaustive look can be found in the works of N.T. Wright and Mike Licona and I encourage the reader to read those anyway.

Time for a thought experiment. What if Jesus did not rise? What if you’ve lived your whole life as a Christian and then receive undeniable proof that Jesus did not rise? How would you respond? Would you choose to be a Christian anyway? If you didn’t, would you say it had been worthwhile anyway as you lived a good life?

Paul will have none of that. Look at what he says in verses 17-19.

17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

For Paul, this is the clincher. If Christ is not risen, there is no hope. If Christianity is a myth, I would tell you to abandon it. (To any atheists reading this, I know about your billboards and if you want to convince me it’s a myth, I need this little thing called evidence.) If Christ has not been raised, don’t be a Christian.

Why? To be a Christian is to identify yourself with Christ. Think of what that means at the start. The first century man was told to consider this man who was on the cross and was put to death by the Romans for claiming to be a king and by the Jews for a charge of blasphemy. By making him your savior, you are in essence saying your identity will be found in that man.

So you want to be identified with someone accused of rebellion against Caesar and of blasphemy in the first century?

The reason you would do so is that you believed God raised him from the dead and his resurrection was a vindication of his claim. It was God putting the stamp of approval on what Jesus said and did. In doing such, he overturned the same of the cross and brought redemption for all.

However, if he has not risen, there is no forgiveness and we are indeed deluded. We are in that case spending our lives identifying ourselves with a dead criminal. The pagans would not even want to do that! If that is the case, then Christians ought to be pitied. People ought to feel sorry for them.

Fortunately, that’s not the case. The reality is that Christ is risen and we do have hope. Paul will not have any of this nonsense of “It doesn’t matter if he rose again. The faith helps you be a good person.” If he did not rise, then by all means find another route to salvation to get yourself righteous before God.

May we all take the resurrection as seriously as Paul did.

Resurrection: Conversion of Paul

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth! Lately, we’ve been going through the topic of the resurrection. We’ve been covering key historical facts that are mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15 and tonight, we’re going to discuss the conversion of Paul.

This is one where the explanations for what happened to Paul on the Damascus road can be quite funny. For instance, Dan Barker has said that maybe Paul was struck by lightning. (You’d think some of those who were with him would have mentioned that and Paul would have asked why his hair was suddenly standing on end and his clothes smelled all crispy.)

Epilepsy is another common explanation, but Beauregard and O’Leary in “The Spiritual Brain” state that this is among the least likely explanations. The word for a thorn in the flesh refers to an irritation and not a serious problem. In fact, I would also add that this is given to Paul according to his testimony AFTER he had a vision of Heaven.

Another idea is that Paul had excessive guilt. This however is a modern idea. Internal guilt would not make sense to an ancient person. They understood shame to those who were their in-group, the ones they took their identity from. Paul would not have had that with the Sanhedrin. If anything, the texts we have indicate that Paul would have been quite respected among them.

What evidence do we have however that Paul genuinely was a Jew against Jesus and then he was a Jew for Jesus? We have his own testimony and that of Luke. Philippians 3 and Galatians 1 both give examples of the way Paul was before his conversion and throughout the epistles you can read about how he persecuted the church.

The explanation that Paul gives for his change is that he saw the risen Christ. As a result of that, he went off and spent some time alone before hitting the evangelistic road. I believe that it was at this time Paul was probably reading the Old Testament and seeking to understand it in light of what he had seen in Christ. If only more of us would do that! That includes myself! The early Christians had as their Bible the Old Testament only and I am sure most of them knew it better than most of us.

Let’s also be clear on something else. Paul was not an idiot. He was very well educated for his time and he would not have made Christianity his faith unless he was intellectually convinced of it. That he was willing to go against the Sanhedrin and effectively banish his heritage in light of Christ should tell us about the seriousness of his conversion. When we read 2 Corinthians 11, we see all the nice little “perks” he got from his new faith.

Thus, we have strong evidence that Paul was converted as a result of seeing the risen Christ and no evidence against it. In the light of the inadequacy of other theories to explain it that rely on modern ideas pushed onto an ancient culture or on speculation without evidence, why not go for what Paul himself says is the explanation? He really did see Jesus.

Resurrection: Appearances

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth! Tonight, we’re going to be continuing our study of the resurrection and looking at the appearances. This is the second item that we are going to list as our historical bedrock.

When I speak of the appearances, I am speaking of the times that the disciples claimed to see the risen Christ. Now whether or not they saw the risen Christ is disputed of course, but there is little doubt that they experienced something that was to them an appearance of the risen Christ.

The creed in 1 Corinthians 15 lists appearances to Peter, James, the twelve, more than 500 at a time, and then Paul includes himself. We will be focusing more on Paul tomorrow. While I believe the same happened to James, that will not be included under historical bedrock.

Our evidence again is that the gospels, aside from Mark, speak of this event, as does the Acts of the Apostles, and this creed in 1 Corinthians 15. Various church fathers refer to the appearances too. This event is what enabled the apostles to go out and start claiming Christ was raised.

Of course, there are those who say that this was not an appearance of the risen Christ. A common theory that is given in response is that the apostles were hallucinating. Many of us have experienced these. When I was eight, I had eye surgery and for a time, I looked at my mother and couldn’t tell which one she was, because when I saw her, I saw two of her.

There are a number of problems with the apostles hallucinating however. While mine was medical, we have no reason to believe the apostles were on any mind-altering drugs or had medical surgery of some sort recently. Thus, if there was one, it would be for psychological reasons.

Psychology is tough enough when the patient is sitting right across from someone. It’s much harder when we start using psychology on ancient figures that we really have little information of. It’s not totally invalid, but theories should not be built upon psychological speculation.

To begin with, the disciples were not in the mindset to experience a hallucination of Jesus as risen. If they were grieving, any hallucination would have been of Jesus in Abraham’s Bosom. It would not be of Jesus being alive and well and appearing among them.

Second, this would not explain the group hallucinations. It would be difficult to find a valid example of such an event. Sometimes, groups of people can see something by being made prone to that. For instance, one person says he sees such and such and another person says the same and before too long, those in the back who can’t see as well think they see the same thing. An appearance to the twelve would not be like that. This is especially the case with one that would happen indoors such as in John 20.

Also, some might point to visions at Fatima. My thoughts on that matter is that I’m not ready to rule out a group appearance. Gary Habermas recommends keeping in mind the distinction between hallucinations and illusions as well. Illusions are misrepresentations of natural phenomena, like what a magician does. Hallucinations are all in the head with nothing outside of the person to figure into the hallucination.

Hallucinations cannot be shared. I could not go to sleep one night and be dreaming of Hawaii and wake up my wife and ask her to join me in the dream. One person would not hallucinate Jesus and then have the others join in. That would be an illusion instead of a hallucination.

Finally, hallucinations would not explain the empty tomb. If anyone had shown the body of Christ, the game would be over. There would be no basis for saying he was risen if the corpse was there. Do note the disciples never went for a spiritual resurrection. (We will look at material in 1 Corinthians 15 later) They went all the way the hard route with a physical resurrection.

Could it be they did that because what they claimed happened? The risen Christ did appear to them?

Resurrection: Crucifixion

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth! We’re going to continue our look at resurrection, but I also seek your prayers tonight and for the upcoming future. My wife and I were finishing Scripture reading last night and about to turn out the light. I needed to get up and turn out a light in the kitchen I’d left on. I’d been having some mild stomach pains, but before I got back to bed, I was screaming.

I wound up in the ER and just to make a long story short, I have gallstones at the moment and will likely have to have my gallbladder removed. My diet will have to be different for the time being as well which is the most difficult part. I seek your prayers in this time. We’re wondering about how we’re going to handle everything.

However, that being said, let’s continue looking at resurrection. The first event Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 mentions is that Christ died. While he doesn’t state the manner he died here, he already has at other times in 1 Corinthians. The first piece of information in this creed that needs to be considered as historical bedrock is that Christ was crucified.

To begin with, the Pauline epistles that we know to be authentic all state this. (I do believe all thirteen are authentically Pauline, but I am willing to accept skeptical data for the time being.) There is not a contrary theory in the epistles on how it is that Christ died. Paul never even hints that Christ avoided death somehow or died by beheading or another method.

All of the gospels report the crucifixion as well. More time is spent on the final week of the life of Christ than on any other event and the conclusion throughout each of the gospels is that Christ was crucified. While some might say there are secondary differences as to what happened during the crucifixion, there is no disagreement that there was crucifixion.

Some readers might be saying “All gospels also agree that Christ rose again. Does that mean we should accept it as historical because of that?”

It should certainly be considered as evidence, but no. For one thing, the act of crucifixion can be more easily accepted by all because it does not necessarily entail any miraculous events. Some might think the events in Matthew 27 have to be literal. That’s not the issue here. You can be an atheist NT scholar, interpret that as a metaphor or some sort, or a later embellishment, but still accept that Christ was crucified as that in itself does not involve the miraculous.

Furthermore, we do have outside references that Christ was crucified. We have the writings of Josephus. Now some could say that some of this was altered, and that could be, but few would say the whole thing is an interpolation and those who say part of it is would not say the mention of crucifixion is.

Even if that wasn’t sufficient however, there is the reference to the death of Christ in Tacitus. Although crucifixion is not mentioned, he does speak of the most extreme penalty. Crucifixion was such a horror to the Romans that they did not even want to mention it.

We also have the records of the early church fathers. Even counter-theories have a crucifixion Jesus recovered from.

To which, let’s dispel this nonsense about Jesus surviving on the cross in a swoon. The American Medical Association has undergone a thorough examination of the crucifixion. Jesus was dead. Not only that, David Strauss, a skeptic by all means, years ago said that a Jesus who somehow survived would have been bleeding profusely, somehow pushed aside a huge rock, walked on feet stabbed through with nails to the crucifixion, and had he made it to the disciples, they would not have called him the Lord who conquered death, but would have called him a doctor. One can hardly imagine Peter looking at Jesus like that and saying “I hope one day I have a body like that.”

If anyone tells you Jesus might have survived, they just don’t know what they’re talking about frankly.

There can be no question historically that Jesus was crucified.

We shall continue tomorrow.

Resurrection Preliminary

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth! I want to thank everyone for their kind support first off in the passing of my grandmother. Some of you might be first time readers and hopefully regular readers who heard me speak at the funeral. We welcome your prayers and donations.

I spoke at the funeral about the resurrection for my grandmother and so I’d like to start looking at that topic here. As I begin it, it occurs to me that the first place we go to to learn about resurrection is not ourselves but rather God. God who is life in Himself can grant life to anyone he desires to, even if that person has already lost it. We also look to Jesus to see what his resurrection tells us about ours.

At the funeral, the first item of business when I spoke on this was to establish a basic defense of the resurrection. I only had a few minutes so there was an emphasis on basis. Here, I no longer have just a few minutes so I’d like to expound on some of the points that I made.

1 Corinthians 15 was the text I used. Let’s look at the first two verses.

1 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

Note what the fact Paul wants them to keep in mind here is the gospel. This is central. If you do not hold to the gospel, then you are not saved. Your faith is in vain. It is no accident that Paul opens up the chapter on the resurrection with talking about the gospel. No resurrection means no gospel.

Now we come to a most important verse.

3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,

Some of you might be thinking “There are several verses that say Christ died for our sins.” If that’s the case, you’re looking at the wrong part of the verse. I don’t deny that that is important, but for a textual critic and a NT historian, the words “What I received I passed on” are immensely valuable.

The following verses are seen to be part of an early Christian creed. While the letter of 1 Corinthians was written between 54-57 A.D., this material comes earlier. (It is amazing how many atheists I have dialogued with on this topic who when hearing that the material dates early think that seeing sources that say 1 Corinthians was written at the above date disproves my point.)

The letter is at that date as stated, but the letter contains this creedal statement that pre-dates it. The position I take on this is consistent across the board. Talk to atheists. Talk to Christians. Talk to Jews. Talk to conservatives. Talk to liberals. Scholars in the field of NT studies date this material early. The earliest I’ve seen is within five years of the “resurrection event.” (By resurrection event, I mean the event under question and at this time not stating it as a historical event but rather the time that is argued about as historical. That there was a claim of resurrection is historical certainly.) The earliest is within a few months.

How do we know? Receiving and passing on is what is used to speak of oral tradition. Greek scholars will also point to the rhythm of the text and how Paul uses terms he doesn’t normally use. Good commentaries on 1 Corinthians can explain more of these. You can also find relevant information in the works of Habermas and Licona.

Why date it early? Paul says he received it and thus, the material would pre-date him. Receiving would come from Jerusalem, the mother church, and that would mean receiving teaching from the apostles. We note the times that Paul went to Jerusalem and each time, he was checking on the gospel already. He was not receiving it.

Again, if you’re skeptical, don’t just check conservative Christians. Check others. The material is early. In ancient history, a time of five years at the most would be a blip. Most historians of ancient history would love to have accounts five years after the events.

What about content? Well we can start looking at the content tomorrow.

The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. We’re going to look today at a new book that has come out recently. This is at the suggestion of my friend Brian Auten of the Apologetics315 blogspot. That is an excellent blog I recommend you go to and its link can be found on the sidebar. The book is Mike Licona’s “The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach.” It can be purchased here.

I will also be reviewing this book for the Tekton Ticker eventually. This is a new blog of J.P. Holding that can be found on the sidebar. If I do a review for JPH there, it will not be found at Deeper Waters. However, I invite you to check regularly and see what work I have done and do go to Tektonics.org and subscribe to the newsletter and eblock.

Also, I’m going to state upfront an important possible bias that I wish to avoid. Mike Licona is someone I know quite well. Still, I seek to be as impartial as I can whenever I go through this work, but I will point out some things about Dr. Licona that I think should encourage you to purchase his book.

Dr. Licona is someone who takes his work seriously. He has wrestled with doubts and so wishes to make sure that he is in the right when he comes down on a position. He is also as many of you might know, the main student of Dr. Gary Habermas and following in his footsteps in resurrection studies. He has debated atheists like Richard Carrier and Bart Ehrman.

For these debates, he has prepared thoroughly, often several hours a week reviewing facts and traveling around the country in order to talk to people with areas of expertise in other fields. He has a singular devotion to the truth and to doing history right.

That’s something else I like from looking through this book. He gives out his method in step-by-step detail in describing the history of the event. I believe that as people come to read this book, that they will not only come to a knowledge of the truth of the resurrection, but the best way to arrive at that historically. They will learn to learn history the way a historian does.

This is also important today because the resurrection is the keystone of our faith. Paul told us that if Christ be not raised, we are still in our sins and our faith is in vain. If Christ is raised, everything else is different however. It means that God has spoken in space and time and has revealed Himself in His Son.

Over the next few weeks, I plan to go through this book and review it. The review will be found in full when it is done at the Tekton Ticker and I once again urge everyone to go and support my ministry partner as his ministry is one that you should be familiarizing yourself with.

For now, if you have the resources also, go to Amazon and pick up a copy of this book and learn to defend the resurrection and know why it matters.

Resurrection Comes

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. Lately, we’ve been covering the doctrine of God, but we’re going to take a break for today. Why? Because I’m going to be gone all this weekend so there won’t be another blog until Monday evening. As you should know, this weekend is Easter and so we are looking forward to celebrating the coming resurrection holiday, so why not write about what it means to me that the resurrection is coming? Before that however, I have my prayer requests. First off, I ask that you pray for my Christlikeness that I will give honor where honor is due and get my thought life under control. Second, I ask for prayers for my financial situation. Finally, I ask for prayers for a third related area in my life. For now, let’s get to the topic.

Dr. Habermas is most likely, and certainly in my mind, the leading defender of the resurrection today. A story that is well-known about him is the death of his first wife Debbie very suddenly to cancer. He tells of how his students would come to him and say “At times like this, aren’t you thankful for the resurrection?” He had to smile for two reasons. First, his students were using his own technique against him. Second, it worked.

The resurrection does make all the difference. As I write this, I have a grandmother who is very ill and I realize that because of the resurrection, any good-bye that takes place is only temporary. Ravi Zacharias has said that the line that brought about his conversion was the passage in the Bible where Jesus says “Because I live, you will live also.”

If Christ is not raised, we are still in our sins, true. We also have no hope for the future. It is most certainly that we should just eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die. However, it could even be asked “Why eat, drink, and be merry?” Such actions are merely a placebo to deny the ultimate reality. We don’t do them to celebrate life but we do them to forget life. We need to forget that there is nothing where we are going, the nihilistic worldview that Solomon was taking on in Ecclesiastes.

Because of the resurrection though, we have hope. Everything will be made right. Any pain we have will be redeemed to us. Any time taken from us will be restored to us. We have spoken of eternity lately and we will indeed get all of that time back and more. We have temporary pain here. We will have eternal joy and pleasures there. We will be in the fellowship of the God who loves us and sent his Son to save us.

Because of the resurrection, everything we go through here is ultimately worth it. It is not just rising to live again. It is rising to truly live for the first time. The life we have now will be but a shadow of the real life that awaits us. We will have life with God, life the way he designed us to have it, and anything that is his design will be good.

Happy Easter everyone! He is risen! He is risen indeed!

He Is Risen!

I hope everyone has had a blessed Easter and I hope we’re still getting readers that have joined in from the suggestion of Slipstream. That’s a ministry broadcast out of the U.K.. A link to their ministry can be found on the right side of this page. A number of other Christians have been following through with blogs on the resurrection. A list of them can be found on the blog from the Thursday before this blog.

Today, we talk about the resurrection.

He is risen!

He is risen indeed!

Slipstream invites all readers to go to their website to hear Gary Habermas give a talk on the resurrection. I encourage that as well and recommend his excellent website of www.GaryHabermas.com. For an excellent book on the topic, get the book he co-authored with Mike Licona called “The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus.” The book also comes with a game where you can quiz yourself on the material that you’ve read to see how much you’ve learned. 

The case for the resurrection today is focusing on the facts of the empty tomb and the resurrection appearances, both of which are attested to in the creed in 1 Cor. 15:3-8. Now some may say the empty tomb is not mentioned explicitly, yet to say that Jesus was buried and that he rose again would in the mind of a Jew imply an empty tomb. There was no concept of Jesus resurrecting and a body still being in that tomb.

The appearances point to the fact that the disciples claimed to have seen the resurrected Christ. Paul mentions that there were 500 who say him at one time. He’s practically telling the people that they can go and ask for themselves. The witnesses were there. The story would be well-known especially since this was an early Christian creed. It would be known who these witnesses were.

The appearance to Paul is quite important in that Paul was one who was a skeptic and went on to die for his faith. There is no reason why Paul would embrace a faith he sought to persecute unless he believed it was true for some reason and a stron g way he would have come about that conclusion is by having an appearance of Christ to him. Some attempts to explain away the conversion of Paul are quite hysterical, particularly one like Dan Barker who says that Paul might have been struck by lightning. 

The most noted attempt to explain the appearances is hallucination. Hallucination doesn’t work though as first off, they don’t explain the empty tomb. Second, people have to be in a suspectible state of mind to have hallucinations. The apostles were not. Third is the problem that if hallucinations had taken place, they would have been in Jesus in Abraham’s bosom or something like that. They would not have been hallucinations of a resurrection. Fourth is the problem of group hallucinations. That all of these people would hallucinate the same thing is extremely unlikely. 

Another case can be made based on who it was. The argument for the resurrection of Christ fits in with biblical prophecy and the claims of who Jesus was and one can build a whole doctrine of atonement around the resurrection. It is the missing piece that fills in the gaps in the puzzle.

This is why N.T. Wright believes the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most likely explanation for all that followed and this can be seen in his work “The Resurrection of the Son of God.” If you want your PH.D. in the study of the resurrection, you need to go with that one. 

There’s something else about this creed in 1 Cor. 15. It can be dated to within one year of the events. This is a gold mine in ancient history. In that kind of study, we consider ourselves fortunate if we have an account just 100 years after the events took place. 

A lot of my readers are already Christians and I’ve pointed to the work of others for a lot of this as a single blog cannot go into all of this. Perchance later on I might do a series on the resurrection. I’d be amiss to not end this with the application of the resurrection truth.

I do not tend to be an emotional person. I would like to tell you that my life is filled with passion for Christ, but I would not say it is. A friend of mine pointed out to me recently that that’s not what really matters. What matters is how you act and not how you feel. There’s a lot of truth to that and we’ve easily confused the two.

There were times today though that I really did stop to think, “Yes. He is risen.” There are times I think that we have sadly heard the story so much all of our lives that the grandeur of it has not sunk in. Imagine if you lived right next door to a beautiful cathedral and you could walk outside and see it any time. You might be at a disadvantage compared to a tourist who can only see it when they travel a great distance and then feel blessed to be there.

I think we do that with the resurrection also. We’ve got so familiar with it that it doesn’t stun us as it should. We can hear about the resurrection but does it really sink in? As I ponder this, I think this is the problem a lot of marriages go through. Too many people in them don’t stop to remember the joy of their honeymoon and take for granted that they’ve got the other person. They seem to lose sight of the wonder that this person really is in their lives.

The resurrection should be something that stuns us. We must remember that death is a defeated foe. We do not say good-bye to loved ones in the Lord. We say “Until we meet again.” It’s only a temporary separation. It is not eternal.

It also doesn’t stop from us. Resurrection is not just of us. It’s resurrection cosmos. C.S. Lewis showed this well in the Chronicles of Narnia. When a deeper magic takes effect, even death itself will work backwards. We are not going to Eden though. We are bypassing Eden. We are getting something that will make Eden look paltry. 

The resurrection is good news. It is because of that that I believe we have hope in this world.

He is risen!

He is risen indeed!

That Saturday

Some of us have been working with the ministry of Slipstream this weekend. You can find a link to Slipstream on the side of my blog and you can find a list of fellow blogs participating on the blog post I made Thursday. Last night, I blogged on the crucifixion and how we call it “Good Friday.” Tonight, I’d like for us to think a bit about what that Saturday with Jesus in the tomb must have been like.

There are all these apostles and they had believed that Jesus was the Messiah. Their dreams had just been dashed to the ground. They may not have known much about the Messiah, but they surely knew that a Messiah would not be crucified. To be crucified was to be under the curse of God. Jesus had been making some unique claims. It would seem that those claims were false due to the treatment that he had.

But now they must be on the run somehow. It was bad enough that their Messiah had been crucified. They were the ones who had followed him. If the priests were looking for others who would be a threat after the movement Jesus had started in his 33 years, the apostles would have been next on the list.

They had left everything to follow him, so what did they have? Pretty much nothing. They would have been shamed by all their family and friends for being duped by a false Messiah. Not only that, all their hopes and dreams of Israel being freed from Roman power were gone as well. Their great light had died. He had spoken so well and worked so many miracles, that it would be a wonder to know exactly what was going on in their minds on that Sabbath Saturday.

Let’s not forget the women also. The women had been the financial contributors often of the ministry of Jesus and had been there for him. They were followers in many ways just as the men were, which was quite revolutionary in the time of Christ. Jesus had treated them the way no teacher ever had.

Yet they had watched him on the cross. They had seen his skin ripped off of him. His internal organs would have been exposed. They had seen him as the nails were driven into his wrists and his feet. They had watched him die on that cross. They had been there when he was buried. They were watching and seeing the stone be sealed shut on that tomb.

And seeing it be sealed shut on their hopes of him being the Messiah. The stone was as strong a “no” as you could possibly want.

What were they doing that day? It was a day of rest, so they wouldn’t be doing much. Where the apostles looking out the windows constantly behind locked doors wondering if Caiaphas would be coming by soon seeking to put to death the followers? Were the women being scolded by their husbands for being duped by a charlatan and giving so much of the money they had to him? 

What about the leading Jews on the Sanhedrin? Were they celebrating their victory? They had managed to not only put to death that wicked deceiver, but they had done so with the help of the crowd. Truly, they had been the saviors of Israel. Because of the action of crucifying a blasphemer, they had avoided bringing God’s judgment on their nation. Their future ancestors would look back and be thankful.

What about Pilate? He had heard and seen a number of things? There’s a legend that there’s a lake where one can see the spirit of Pilate still trying to wash his hands of the crime he committed. What was he thinking? Had he sold himself out to the Jews? What about his wife? She had told him to do nothing to that righteous man. What if he was a righteous man? What if he had put to death a righteous man?

We don’t know about that day. Nothing was written, but it is something worth speculating about. When we think of how dark that day must have been, we can see how wonderful things were when that day was reversed.

And that is our topic for tomorrow.

Good Friday

Good. What does the word mean? The word good in Aristotle referred to that which is desirable for its own sake. Ultimately, the true good for himw as happiness. We Christians locate that goodness in God. We have things that we consider good by their nature, but that is because they possess being and insofar as they are, they are good. For actions and events, we have a different criteria. For some reason, we call this day “Good Friday.”

Have you ever wondered about it?

Do we see Mormons celebrating the day that Joseph Smith was killed? Do we see Jews celebrating the day that Moses died? Do we see Muslims celebrating the day that Muhammad died? Do we see Buddhists celebrating the day that the Buddha died?

Yet we choose the day that our Lord died, and of course I know that he rose again, and we call that good. There is a lot in that statement. Tonight, let’s look at that.

I wish to remind everyone about Slipstream ministries, which can be found in the links section at the right, whose request on their podcast is responsible for my writing this series this Easter weekend instead of the usual Trinitarian study. It seems Deeper Waters has had more hits than usual and if you came from Slipstream or another blog that is doing this event, welcome aboard. I hope you enjoy what you read and I hope that you will stick around afterwards. Unless noted in advance, Deeper Waters will bring you a new blog every evening.

Good. Let us make it clear. I do not believe we are saying the death of the innocent Son of God in itself was good. It was a sinful act done by wicked men and as such it was not good. Does that mean it was not used for good? Of course it was! That’s the glory of God. He takes what is even meant to be used against him and uses it for his own glory.

What is good is that the ultimate act of evil really brought about the ultimate good. We have been blogging lately on the Trinity and I would like those of us who have been thinking Trinitarian to consider the way that we look at the cross in light of the claims of Christ. Either Jesus was claiming to be God and was not and considering the level at which he made the claims, it was then the most righteous act that could be done putting to death the most wicked blasphemer of all, or he was who he said he was, and then it was the most wicked act that could ever be done putting to death the only righteous one who ever lived.

No one leaves the cross neutral.

Why is this called Good Friday? It is because of the good that came out of it. It was the greatest good. God’s plan worked. He did it at the greatest cost possible. He did not use a created being, a mere tool to bring about man’s redemption, but rather he gave his only Son. 

In the Brothers Karamazov, the skeptic Ivan asks his brother, the religious one, Alexei, a question. If he could build a perfect world but know that in order to do that, he would have to make one innocent person suffer the worst pain possible, would he do such?

Apparently, God would and did, and he made it so it wasn’t one of us, but the Son took it on instead.

Look at the cross. It should have been you. It should have been me. This is one reason I’m hesitant to condemn my brother for his sins. I will condemn the sins, but even so, I will not do so with glee. My brother needs my encouragement to not walk that way again. I deserve the cross just as he does. 

Good Friday reminds us that God is in control. The crucifixion was not an accident. God knew it from all eternity. How does this work? I will not even claim to know. Eternity is such a mind-boggling concept, but I believe that that is true based on my philosophical ponderings and my exegesis of Scripture.

If God is in control, that also means redemption is not an accident. We are not a mere afterthought. We have always been there. I consider it a very orthodox statement that if God ceased to think about you, he would cease to exist as God. God knows all things at all times. That includes you. If he lost thought of you, then he would be temporal. Maybe an OVT can accept that. I cannot.

The main area that needs to be covered is how the followers of Christ handled this event when it happened. How would they have seen it? That will be our topic tomorrow.