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Was Jesus On the Wrong Side of History?

the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! 32 Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him. The Death of Jesus 33 At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) Mark 15: 31-34

The chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) Mark 15: 31-34 

Have you ever heard a politician accuse someone of being, “on the wrong side of history”?  It’s a figure of speech, a cliché, that is meant to label an opponent as backward or ignorant in the face of inevitable social change.  In other words, the passage of time will vindicate the views of the one and prove that the other was an enemy of progress.  Since we recently marked the day in which Jesus of Nazareth died on a cross, and since today is the day we celebrate his resurrection,  I thought it would be appropriate to ask the question, “Was Jesus on the wrong side of history?”  After all, we’ve had 2,000 years to consider the question.

At the time of his crucifixion, Jesus lost the support of everyone.  Jewish religious leaders believed he was a blasphemer for comparing himself to God and threatening their power, so they tried to kill him.  The Roman authorities desired to keep their subjects in check, so killing this instigator of the people and enemy of the Jewish authorities made sense.  Even Jesus’ closest followers scattered in those dark hours.  The one who was meant to be Christ’s rock-solid representative, Peter, verbally declared that he had never known Jesus on three occasions.  But far more damning than the loss of his people, had to have been the loss of God, his father.

The night before his crucifixion, Jesus asked God,  “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39)  The cup he’s referring to is his horrific death.  It’s a death that Jesus saw coming because the prophets of old foretold it.  Isaiah, who lived 600 years before Christ came, wrote, “Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God,stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions,he was crushed for our iniquities…he was led like a lamb to the slaughter.” (Isaiah 53:4-5,7)  King David wrote 1,000 years before Jesus was born, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?All who see me mock me;they hurl insults, shaking their heads.“He trusts in the Lord,” they say,“let the Lord rescue him.a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet” (Psalm 22: 1,7,8,16)  Jesus understood that these prophecies referred to him.   God declared the nature of his son’s death centuries before he ever walked the earth.

According to the Bible, Jesus was on the right side of history even when everyone forsook him as he experienced an excruciating death.  In the hour of his death it must have seemed to the world that Jesus had made some tragic mistake, or perhaps he had done something terrible to deserve the judgement of God (like if he had been claiming to be God’s son if it weren’t true).  But looking back, and looking through the pages of the Bible, it’s clear that this was all part of God’s plan to save his people.  Isaiah the prophet even declares that it was God’s will to crush him.  It was God’s will to sacrifice his beloved son to save us out of love.  (Why this is so is for another blog post)

His resurrection three days later, his ascension into Heaven, and the subsequent spread of his church all strongly favor the idea that Jesus was on the right side of progress and an unmatched force for social change.  But this all hinges on the truth of his resurrection.  Anyone can die, but who can rise again?

And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.  1 Corinthians 15: 14-19

Paul is saying, essentially, that if Jesus is still dead, he was a pitiful fool, and so are we.  Christ would be on the wrong side of history and so would all of his followers.

In the final analysis, the answer to the question of whether Jesus falls on the right or wrong side of history rests entirely on the reality of his resurrection.  If he did in fact rise from the dead, we can trust all of his claims about being the son of God and the exclusive savior of mankind. But if he died on the cross and stayed dead, we must dismiss him entirely and judge him as an enemy of progress.  The basis of his whole teaching is that he can save people from their sins.  If he can’t even save himself, how can he save anyone else?  If the crucifixion killed God incarnate, God incarnate rose from the dead in three days.  If the crucifixion killed a delusional yet well-intentioned man, a delusional yet well-intentioned man is dust and ashes.  It’s one or the other.  History knows no neutrality.

Jesus once asked two blind men, “Do you believe that I am able do this?”  He asked them if they believed he had the authority and power to restore life to their eyes: if he had power over death and decay.

Today, on Easter Sunday, I join them in saying, “Yes, Lord!”

 

 “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Matthew 28:5-6

“Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Matthew 28:5-6

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Speaking for the Victims of Progress

Those who call themselves progressives (liberals) are almost universally in favor of a woman’s right to choose.  They are pro-choice.  This is not a controversial statement.  Perhaps there are some liberal Democrats in this country that are pro-life, and for that reason I had to qualify my statement with “almost”.  Sweeping statements are a surefire way to close people’s ears and eyes.  That’s the last thing I intend to do here.

A while back I wrote about abortion (see An Inflammatory Issue: Abortion).  If you’ve read it you’ll notice that I made a great effort to control my passion for the sake of presenting my case.  But, after reflecting on it I realize that to speak about such a monumental loss of life without fiery passion is entirely a waste of everyone’s time.  It must be possible to be both reasonable and passionate.

Before I continue, I’d like to remind you that over 45 million abortions have occurred legally in the United States since Roe V Wade in 1973.    The population of Massachusetts was about 6.5 million in 2009.  The population of the United States was about 300 million in 2009.  That means that about 7 times the population of Massachusetts has been aborted and nearly 1/6 the total population of the entire United States.  In just 38 years.  How high will the number be  in 50 years?  How about 100 years?  Does it even matter anymore?  Have you become numb to these figures?  Or is your political and personal stance on pro-choice solid enough to support this holocaust?  Isn’t it amazing what a good rationale can do for the conscience?

Often we have heard that it is a woman’s right to choose what she does with her own body.  Absolutely, a woman has the same rights as men under the Constitution.  But what about her baby?  Is a baby something like a tumor that spontaneously generates inside of the woman’s womb?  Or, is a baby just as much the father’s as it is the mother’s while forming inside of her?  What happens when a man wants to keep the child and the woman chooses to abort it?  Does he have rights?  I know this must sound like ignorant blasphemy to some of my more liberal readers, but it’s at least worthy of thoughtful consideration.  Do we as fathers have to submit to the will of the mothers until the mother either chooses to keep it or the government steps in to say you have to keep it?  A woman’s right to choose life or death for her offspring is supported by the law.  That law came out of a decision that determined that fetuses up to a certain point are not alive, and therefore have no protection under the Constitution.  The Constitution, you see, only protects those who deserve protection.  It can do nothing for the most helpless among us.  Some speak of the Constitution as if it were Divine Law, or God himself.  I couldn’t submit my life to an entity who chooses not to protect the innocent, the weak, and the voiceless. My God is not evil.

I have heard it said that pro-choice is not pro-abortion.  The reasoning behind it being that the individual would never personally choose abortion, but they support another individual’s right to do so.  At first glance it seems to make at least some sense.  But then you think a little harder and you realize that it is not only irrational, but also the ultimate manifestation of the belief in subjective relative truth.

If you are pro-choice, you are pro- abortion.  Just like if you didn’t like the slave trade in 18th century England, but supported the trader’s right to earn a living.  They can choose to be slave traders if they want, but you will have no part of it.  How do you feel about that?  Something is detestable, and you choose not to stand against it because you’ve decided that freedom trumps human dignity.  We look back at our ancestors in disgust, but what would they say about us?  How barbaric and inhumane.

We live in an age full of truths with no Truth.  It is full of purposes with no Purpose.  Everything is subjective, and nothing is absolute.  The freedom of the individual is paramount.  As long as you’re not hurting anybody, you can do what you like and believe what you like.  But here’s the problem.  The beliefs of many progressive-minded people in our country are leading to actions that have hurt many millions.  I’m so tired of hearing and reading about how dangerous the beliefs of evangelical Christians are in this country.  For the love of God, let no true Christian enter public office or they will poison the system with their terrifying Truth!  Meanwhile, kind-hearted well-intentioned progressives are believing in abortion on demand and 45 million beings that would have been just like you and me are erased from existence.

The victims of progress cry out to me.