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Those Crazy Disciples?

August 23, 2007

It looks as if I’m becoming a once a week blogger.  I hate it, but unfortunately I’m not allowed a great deal of time.  Who would have known that teaching could be so time consuming?!

I wanted to post on something I’ve been thinking about lately.  I teach history to grade 9, 10, and 11 students.  In my grade 9, we’ve been talking about Christianity in the Roman Empire and the persecution that Christians encountered.  Now, I made it clear that Christians are not the only people to be persecuted and die for their faith.  Many Muslims have gladly given their lives in the name of “Holy War.”  Many Jews were slaugtered simply because of who they were.  But I must say, just as Jesus Christ stands in a league of His own in the religious figures throughout world religions, so too the disciples and early Christians who were martyred for sharing the message of Christ stand worlds apart from those who have died for “religious causes.”

History has shown that eleven of the twelve disciples of Jesus were martyred for their witness of Christ.  Let me give a few examples.  Matthew the tax collector was beheaded by the sword.  Mark was tied up behind horses and literally had his body dragged to pieces for his faith.  The saddest (heartbreaking in fact) one of all concerns James the brother of Jesus.  At the age of 94(!) he was brutally beaten and eventually had his brain bashed out by a club.  Peter was crucified, but he felt it so unworthy to die like his King that he asked to be crucified upside down.  The others suffered equally painful deaths.  And for what reason, because they preached a message of salvation and repentence.

Now here’s the big problem.  These men made a bold claim.  They (along with 120, and a larger 500) claimed to see Jesus die and then rise from the dead.  On top of that, these men all abandoned Christ in His greatest time of need.  They were complete cowards (as I would have been) and feared retaliation.  Yet, all of sudden, these men are proclaiming at the cost of their lives, a message of the resurrection of Jesus Christ who is also the Messiah (or savior) of the world.  They went from being coward  to becoming some of the boldest men in the entire world.

Now, I have no problem admitting that men will die for a belief.  We see it all the time with the radical Islamic element that sends suicide bombers to destroy the lives of innocent people so that they can have their thousand virgins in heaven.  Yes, men will die for beliefs.  But men don’t die for lies.  No one in their right mind would die for something they know is not true (especially when there was nothing to gain for doing so).  The disciples did not claime to BELIEVE something; they claimed to SEE something, mainly a man die and raise from the dead.  And then they proclaimed the message of repentence they were given to preach at the cost of everything.  These men had nothing to gain by spreading this message.  They lost their lives willingly, because the claimed to see with their own eyes death become conquered.  If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, then these disiples died for something they knew was a lie!  But, I think we can all admit that is the most ludicrous scenario that has ever been concocted.  No,  Twelve men (not to mention the otthers who died as well) gave their lives because the saw something.

So, what makes 12 cowardly men who abandoned the one they loved at his crucifixion change so dramatically that they would risk everything to proclaim a message?  What made these men give up everything in their life, with nothing to gain?  Maybe, just maybe what they saw was true.  Maybe a man really did rise from the dead, and if that’s the case then the message they were brutally martyred for is worth hearing.

 Men will die for a belief.  These men died beacuse they saw something…

7 Comments leave one →
  1. pfc permalink
    August 24, 2007 12:09

    Great message.

  2. August 24, 2007 2:22

    sounds a lot like what lee strobel says in the case for christ. i agree, it does seem pretty strange that someone would go from zero to hero overnight like that, unless they had a pretty incredible experience.

    what could be more incredible than resurrection from the dead?


  3. jonathangroover permalink*
    August 24, 2007 12:42

    Thanks for the comments. William Lane Craig also talks about this in his writings as well. He’s an amazing source for articulating the Christian view soundly. However, it wasn’t until recently that the profoundness of this hit me. Why would they die if they knew they didn’t see what the claim to see? It was the foundation of their entire message. It just makes no sense, and the attempts to get around it are weak.

  4. August 25, 2007 6:41

    you are right, Craig also talks about it. i guess i hadnt remembered. he came and participated in a debate during my time at University. it was really good. i was very pleased to spend a significant amount of time with him. he has a good head on his shoulders, and very balanced and fair. not the stereotypical bible-basher.


  5. tracey(MOM) permalink
    August 25, 2007 11:32

    Hey … Just catching up on your blog…this one was great. I never really thought about the FACT that they actually witnessed the real resurrection of the man they had been following for three years. I think they failed Jesus before this because they “believed” that he would rise to power, overthrow Rome and rule Israel, but after he raised from the dead like he said he would they “knew” that if that were true and it was because they saw it, then everything else he had said was true too. Pretty convincing stuff!


  1. Something Worth Dying For « Finding and Proclaiming the Truth. Period.
  2. Of Christians, Matyrs, and Proof « Fitness for the Occasion

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