Monday, April 8, 2024

Conspiracy Theory

I am so grateful for the privilege of preaching yesterday. To preach around Easter time is hallowed ground for enlivening faith.  I had to begin in Matt. 28. didn't I?

There have always been fake news, and conspiracy theories. Sometimes it’s vital to call out something as a  hoax.  And never has it mattered to powerful people as much as at the first Easter to call it all a hoax. When the guards tell the religious leaders that the tomb was empty, and a group of women were spreading the news :Jesus is risen, the leaders had to kill the news stone dead. If this was widely seen as a hoax then this Jesus would be forgotten as just another Messianic dreamer with big God claims who made absurd promises - especially about rising on the third day. They bribe the soldiers to confess they had fallen asleep while the disciples came and stole the dead body.  And the leaders promised to explain to the governor the reason for the story so to keep the soldiers out of trouble.  And it was a good story widely circulated.  Much easier to believe than a dead body had come alive again. Believe this version and you could jettison any claims about Jesus as Lord.

 Ever since, clever people have known that if they could prove the resurrection is a hoax and the rest of the New Testament with the apostle Paul as fake news, they could smash up Christianity. Maybe you know the story, for example, in the eighteenth century when two young Oxford students set out to destroy Easter.  Gilbert West and his cousin Lord Lyttleton reckoned the New Testament Easter claims were absurd. West said he would demonstrate Jesus never rose from the dead, Lyttleton said Saul of Tarsus was never converted to Christianity and the New Testament record is a nonsense. They were serious.  They did their research.  In embarrassment they met later. Independently they had come to the disturbing conclusion that Jesus really did rise from the dead and Saul of Tarsus became a new man in Christian faith.  West wrote a massive book: Observation on the history and evidences of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and Lyttleton wrote: The Conversion of Paul.  Both were transformed because if Easter is true then everything that’s important about who we are - our purpose and future is changed.

The whole point of Easter is not so give a holiday break or boost chocolate sales but to change the way that the world believes and behaves. (To be continued).


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