Waiting for the End – A Meditation for Easter

Crucifixion of Jesus – Marco Palmezzano

“And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’–which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’  When some of those standing near heard this, they said, ‘Listen, he’s calling Elijah.’
One man ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. ‘Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,’ he said.
With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.”

 

“It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body.
Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died.” When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph.

Mark 15.34-37; 42-45

Pilate was surprised to learn that Jesus had died so quickly. That was because Roman crucifixion was not merely an  execution. It was a slow death by way of torture, filled with excruciating pain, designed by the Romans to  extend the amount of time it actually took to die as long as possible. “Historically the process could take anywhere from 3-4 hours to 3-4 days. And there were reports of people living as long as 9 days on a cross.”[1] The Jewish leaders and Pilate were both expecting it to take days for Jesus to die as was typical. That’s why the Jewish leaders petitioned Pilate to have his legs broken (John 19.31).   Because when hung on a cross for crucifixion, “Modern forensic research shows that a person whose hands are bound above his head has severe trouble breathing.”[2] The results being that:

“The muscles that run between the ribs are basically fully extended which means the ribs are fully expanded, which means the chest is essentially passively full of air. In order to get the stale air and the carbon dioxide and all the waste gases out, the victim would actually have to actively lift themselves up to get the pressure off of these muscles and allow themselves to exhale.”[3]
Robert M. Morris, MD
ER Chief, Stanford medical center

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Are Biblical accounts copied from pagan religions? Part 2. The Resurrection

Depiction of the empty tomb of Jesus

Depiction of the empty tomb of Jesus

Since the original sin in the garden of Eden, mankind has searched for reasons not to believe God so he could live a life independent of God. In the garden, the serpent convinced Eve not to trust God. Why? Supposedly because God was holding back the knowledge of good and evil to the detriment of Adam and Eve. The serpent suggested God was wrong f0r withholding that knowledge, but that if they were to discover the truth, they would be “like God”. (Gen 3.5) That was a big lie. God was indeed withholding the knowledge of evil, but he was not wrong in doing so because he knew that (experiential) knowledge of evil (like disobeying God) would lead to death.  And the biggest irony is – they were already like God (Gen 1.26),  there was nothing to be gained from what the serpent offered.

Today there is another lie circulating to destroy belief in God: The claim that the biblical accounts are not history, but rather stories borrowed or stolen and then adapted from the made up stories of pagan religions. If there’s no reason to believe the pagan religions, then there’s no reason to believe a made up story based on it either. Continue Reading

The Resurrection – The Bible’s Undepicted Miracle

Mary Magdalene discovers the empty tomb of Jesus in “The Bible” episode Courage.

A meditation for Easter

The resurrection of Jesus is arguably the most important miracle in the entire Bible. The creation gives us a place to live, the exodus demonstrates God’s gift of freedom, the Passion leading to the atonement forgives our sins, but without the resurrection, we still would not have eternal life to enjoy all the good things God has provided. As theologian Norman Geisler puts it:

“Without the resurrection there is no salvation (Rom 10.9), and the whole of Christianity crumbles if it is not true (1 Cor. 15:12-19).[1]

So of all the Biblical scenes where I wish movie makers would take some artistic license to display magnificently – but they they never do – it’s the depiction of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Watching the Biblical epics like Cecil B. DeMille’s classic “The Ten Commandments” (who can forget that parting of the red sea) and the more recent productions of the “The Bible” (they opened with a most impressive depiction of the global flood) and “AD – The Bible Continues” (the depictions of the ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit definitely took some artistic license, but delivered an appropriately visually appealing and inspiring depiction of those events) – I suppose tends to raise expectations. Continue Reading

“Finding Jesus” – the Shroud of Turin – A Review

The first episode of the new CNN Series “Finding Jesus – Faith Fact Forgery” uses selective evidence to support the unwarranted conclusion that the Shroud of Turin is a forgery.

Sunday night CNN launched a new documentary series on the Christian faith titled “Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgery”.  The first episode, “The Shroud of Turin” was, as the title implies, a re-examination of the highly venerated, highly questioned burial cloth of Jesus. The question is, of course, is the cloth authentic? Is it really the cloth of which the gospel writer Mark records:

“So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.”
Mark 15.46

… or is it a forgery? Based on the title, the producers want to draw a sharp line of demarcation between what is faith (that which science can neither affirm nor deny); what is fact, and what is unwarranted faith (that which science can attempt to either affirm or deny and if denied, declare a “forgery” or false). Based on the first episode, the producers want to remove any scientific basis for faith – even when such evidence is overwhelming. This is clearly the case because of the wealth of evidence that exists concerning the authenticity of the well studied, well researched Shroud that the producers chose to ignore. I say chose to ignore, because as producers of a documentary on the well known relic, they are responsible for being aware of such public domain information and should surely  know about these evidences which contradict their theories. And if they don’t know, they are not qualified to be doing a documentary on it. This first episode (and thus presumably the rest of the series) is clearly biased against evidence that confirms the veracity of Christian claims.

In an apparent effort to cover their bias, the documentary is overall respectful of the faith – providing a traditional retelling of the events leading up to the burial of Jesus.  In my previous article Physical Evidence Jesus Existed I list 6 evidences of authenticity for the Shroud; 3 of which are not mentioned in the documentary, the others are either ignored or outright denied. Below is further exposition and clarification on some of those evidences, and the addition of new evidence from an effort to date the Shroud apart from Carbon dating. Obviously a documentary cannot be expected to present every piece of evidence, but certainly some of the well established evidences – especially those which contradicts your proposed theory – should be presented – if the goal is to present a fair and balanced piece of journalism. Of course if you’re not interested in fair and balanced reporting, then liberal usage of the fallacy of suppressed evidence is a viable course, and the route which they have obviously chosen for this episode, and presumably the series. 

So what is the theory that they resort to suppressing evidence to protect? Continue Reading