From the Disk of the Pastor April 2010
Dear Friends in Christ,
“And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.”
(I Cor. 15:17) It has been said that Jesus of Nazareth was either liar, lunatic, or Lord. There are no other alternatives. The claims about Jesus are so fantastic, there can be no middle ground. He’s not just a prophet. He’s not just a teacher of morality.
The Christian faith is different than all other religions in the history of the world. There are two major points of difference. First is its origins and second its message.
In March 29, 33 A.D. Jesus of Nazareth entered Jerusalem to the shouts of hosanna. On the night of April 2, 33 A.D. Jesus was arrested on the Mount of Olives and put on trial before the high priest Joseph Caiaphus. Caiaphus was a real person. This is not a made up story. His name is prominent the Jewish histories of the period. We even have his bones. Caiaphas was the first person mentioned in the Bible whose remains were located. On the early morning of April 3, 33 A.D. Jesus was brought before Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea, and King Herod Antipas for judgement. Again, these are names that are well documented in both historical writings and inscriptions. Likewise with the locations. We know where the Mount of Olives is. We know that Pilate’s judgement hall was the palace of Herod the Great. Herod Antipas was residing in the Hasmonian Palace. A short distance from the palace of Herod the Great, where Pilate sat in judgement, was the place of crucifixion. The life of Jesus was marked by real dates, real people, and real places. In many cases the founders of other religions are mythical figures about whom little is known.
The other major point of difference is the message. It was noted recently in connection to Tiger Woods, that Buddhism has no doctrine of forgiveness and redemption. He can never be made right with the world again. But he will spend the rest of his life trying to earn his own restoration. Christianity teaches that God Himself paid for the sins of all mankind - that is our sins. We are restored and made right with heaven and earth. Christianity alone teaches that man can be bought back from sin and death. Further, Christianity teaches that God is the One who does the buying. We don’t earn anything. God gives us forgiveness and life as a free gift. How can we be certain that these gifts of forgiveness and life are real? Because on Sunday, April 5, 33, the tomb was empty and Jesus, who had been dead, was alive. The Christian faith rises and falls on this fact. How do we know that this is true? Because God has given us a massive amount of evidence to the event. It is recorded by at least five witnesses to the event. A sixth account was researched by talking to those who were witnesses. No other event in the ancient world is so well documented. Legal scholar John Warwick Montgomery, who has argued cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, numerous foreign courts, and the World Court, has boasted that he could empanel a jury and using standard rules of evidence accepted in all western countries, compel that jury to rule that Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead. There is no doubt. Jesus lives. And as He lives, so also do we live!
Rev. Jody R. Walter
Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.