The Logic of the Cross
Roughly one thousand, nine hundred and eighty years ago, a Jewish itinerant preacher was tried, convicted and executed by Roman decree, on charges of sedition against the state.
When He was arrested by the Roman authorities, His friends, fearing arrest themselves, left Him to face the music alone. One of His closest and most loyal friends denied knowing Him on three separate occasions. Once followed by thronging crowds, only His mother and a couple of friends stood by Him to the end.
And thus ends the story of Jesus of Nazareth, just another victim of Roman 'justice' like the thousands of other unnamed and forgotten Jewish rebels that shared a similar fate.
Or, at least, that is where is SHOULD have ended.
Historically speaking, at the time of His Death, Jesus Christ was just another rebel in a land teeming with rebels. When He preached of the Kingdom of Heaven, his followers didn't understand the term the way that we do.
The sages understood the time of the Judges, when Israel was ruled by Heaven through God's appointed judges, as the Kingdom of Heaven He promised to restore.
Even His disciples didn't understand what He was talking about until after they received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
"When they therefore were come together, they asked of Him, saying, Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6)
They, like the rest, expected an earthly Jewish kingdom ruled by Jews, restored to the glory it had at its peak under King David.
When their dreams of a restored Kingdom of Israel died on a Roman cross, the event was too insignificant to merit the attention of the historians of the time. Only a few, like Tertius or Flavius Josephus mention it, and then, only in passing.
Crucifixion was common enough, but it was a grisly business, difficult to discuss without repulsing the reader. Although Imperial Rome imposed it on hundreds of thousands during its reign, historians recorded few details of the process itself.
By either chance or design, death by crucifixion served to erase the condemned from memory. It wasn't talked about, so neither were its victims.
On Good Friday, 1980 years ago, it looked like Jesus Christ was on the fast track to historical irrelevance, just another voice of one crying out from the wilderness.
A voice seemingly silenced forever -- by a death too gruesome to discuss in polite company.
Now, imagine you are one of His chosen disciples. You have just seen all your hopes and dreams shattered by the Roman executioners. Not only that, but you aren't that proud of yourself, either.
For three years, you followed the Master. You personally witnessed His miracles, from walking on water to feeding multiplied thousands with a young boy's lunch to healing the sick and raising the dead.
You heard His wisdom; you felt His Power, witnessed His Transfiguration . . . and when the chips were down and it was time to take a stand, you folded up like a Wal Mart lawn chair.
You ran and hid like a coward, not daring to show your face for fear you'd share His fate.
(And you once had the nerve to ask Him if you could sit at His right Hand!)
He faced His enemies alone, without a friend to speak up for Him -- including you, who promised NEVER to forsake Him.
On Good Friday, 1980 years ago, the last thing on any of their minds was writing a detailed record of their own failures. They just wanted to put the entire sordid experience behind them and move on.
He had forsaken everything to teach and prepare them, and when the time came, they not only betrayed Him by deserting Him, they never had a chance to beg His forgiveness afterwards.
To those who loved Him best, Good Friday, 1980 years ago, was anything BUT 'good'.
And it was the LAST story in the world they wanted to spread throughout the land.
"He made big promises, we made big promises, then He died and we all ran away and hid."
If you were hiding somewhere in Jerusalem on Good Friday, 1980 years ago, that was your story. Not a very inspiring story, if that was where it ended.
Every Easter, we are bombarded by secular apologists telling us that is where the story really DID end.
Jesus was dead; His followers were all in hiding, but while they were in hiding for their lives (and after seeing what happened to Jesus,) instead of fading quietly into the countryside, they entered into a conspiracy to perpetuate the same 'myth' that put Jesus on the Cross in the first place.
They made up the whole Resurrection story to keep the movement alive, and then legend took over, the argument goes.
If the story really DID end at Golgotha, would YOU want to face the same risk that you had just abandoned your best Friend to His Death in order to avoid? Well, would you?
IF it ended at Golgotha, then what changed every single one of the cowards who fled Jesus on that day to later face death unflinchingly rather than deny Him a second time?
Moreover, what made these guys, who were so self-centered they used to argue over who would sit at His right Hand in some misty, undefined future kingdom, choose to disclose the details of their greatest moment of personal failure, weaving those unflattering self-revelatory details into the fabric of what they already KNEW a monstrous lie?
Since most of it was a lie anyway, why be so brutally hard on themselves?
The Archbishop of Canterbury is on record as doubting the Resurrection as an actual historical event. This defies logic. If the Resurrection wasn't an historical event, then it ended at Golgotha -- and the Apostles knew it.
Every single event from the Cross forward was a lie, and the New Testament record of their zeal to propagate that lie is equally unreliable. THIS is the argument put forth every Easter by the secularists as the epitome of 'rational thought.'
No logical alternative explanation for why the Apostles chose death over denial of what they KNEW, by definition, was a myth. To plug THAT hole, critics say the story was 'harmonized' later as the Bible was being assembled by the Nicean Council.
But nobody ever goes back to Good Friday, 1980 years ago, where they claim it all ended, to explain with any degree of credibility, why it didn't. Because if Jesus was not raised on the first day of the week, where He subsequently appeared to more than five hundred witnesses (1st Corinthians 15:6) then it SHOULD have.
Christianity SHOULD have died with Jesus, and on Good Friday 1980 years ago, to all intents and purposes, it did.
And it would have STAYED dead, but Christianity was raised with Jesus Christ on the third day, and today, it is real enough to have the secularists jumping through logical hoops every Easter season trying to prove its all a myth.
For those who demand empirical evidence of the Resurrection, the existence of the question is all the evidence logic demands.
Had it really ended on Good Friday, 1980 years ago at the Cross, nobody would be asking the question in the first place.
When Jesus appeared to John on the Island of Patmos, He identified himself as the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning AND the end.
The logic of Christianity is that it began where it ended -- without the Cross, there could be no Resurrection. And without the Resurrection, there is no reason to remember the Cross.
To the secularist, this is an unacceptable conundrum, despite the fact his best alternative explanation leaves him with no reason for Christianity to exist for him to question.
It is a logical circle from which he can't escape, because he can't see he's inside the circle.
"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1st Corinthians 2:14)
As foolish as his argument is, he can't see it for the foolishness of his own wisdom.
"For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness." (1st Corinthians 3:19)
So every year, the annual bombardment of articles questioning the 'truth' of the Resurrection continues without their ever seeing the answer is contained inside the very question they are so focused on.
It is as baffling to the natural mind as is the reason we Christians call this upcoming Friday, "Good Friday".
"For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God." (1st Corinthians 1:18)