August 8, 2014

The Jesus Myth – part 1: Tomb Raiders (cont.)

Posted in Jesus, Religion, Salvation tagged , , , , , at 3:51 PM by E. M.

Jesus myth2We’ve been examining some of the more popular myths and theories used by Satan and his minions in an attempt to discredit and/or deny the resurrection of Jesus. However since these myths are in blatant opposition to the truth and the historical evidence of the resurrection, they tend to be improbable at best or ludicrous at worse.

We looked at two of them in the last post. This time we will examine one of the silliest, followed by one that could eventually prove to be the most dangerous of all.

Myth 3: The Swoon Theory

This one is my favorites – primarily because it’s the most ridiculous. This myth purports that Jesus didn’t really rise from the dead, because Jesus never actually died! The “Swoon Theory” states that Jesus didn’t DIE on the cross; He just fainted (swooned) due to the extreme pain. Because He was so weak and brutalized, the Romans mistook His fainting spell for death and plopped Him into the tomb. Therein, the cool air of the tomb revived Him. He then walked out of the tomb, retired from the ministry, shacked up with Mary Magdalene, and sired a whole bunch of children who went on to be the progenitors of the royal families of Europe.

No, I’m not making this up. My imagination is not that fertile.

So let’s look at all the things that are wrong with this idiotic theory. First of all, the Romans didn’t just start crucifying people the week before they hung Jesus on the cross. They were EXPERTS in this form of execution and they knew how to tell if their victim was dead. When a person dies, their blood separates into the red cell platelets and the relatively clear plasma. The soldier who stuck a spear in Jesus’ side at the end of the crucifixion wasn’t being sadistic; he was making sure Jesus was dead! When blood and “water” (plasma) came out, it proved His death.

As we saw a couple posts back, crucifixion has a devastating effect on the human body. The nerves in the hands and feet are irreparably damaged, the lungs fill with fluid, most of the major organs fail, and the heart ruptures. According to the Swoon Theory, not only did these injuries NOT kill Jesus, it only took the “cool air” of the tomb to heal him enough to hop out of His burial clothes. Then He managed to hobble over to entrance of the tomb on unusable feet, push the boulder out of the way with useable hands, sneak past the aforementioned Roman Guard, and go stud Himself off to Mary Magdalene.

It looks like people have been wasting their time in spas and clinics all these years. Apparently nothing heals and refreshes like cool tomb air!

So does anyone actually take this nonsense seriously? Believe it or not the answer is yes! In fact variations of the “Jesus wasn’t dead when they took him off the cross” variant is the prevailing theory in academia (and Islam) and has been popularized in such mainstream books as Holy Blood Holy Grail, and Da Vinci Code. And if that isn’t proof that contrastive thinking leads to brain damage, I don’t know what is.

Myth 4: The Pristine Corpse

This last myth is actually quite a bit different from the others. It is the most inconspicuous, and seemingly innocuous – but it has the potential to be the most harmful. It’s not a direct assault on the truth of the resurrection, and I’m not even certain that it comes from Satan (although he can and does make use of it where possible).

This myth is tacitly endorsed and encouraged by Christians, which likely makes it the most controversial and uncomfortable. In fact, I’ve never presented it to a Christian who did not find it disturbing if not offensive. It will be especially repulsive to any reader who is religious. The best way to present it is to examine a few post-resurrection narratives from the Bible:

As I wrote earlier, when Jesus rose from the dead, the first person to encounter Him was Mary Magdalene who had come to the cemetery to tend to the body. When she first encountered Jesus, she mistook him for the gardener and only seemed to know who He was when she fully recognized His voice. Later the disciples were out fishing when Jesus called them to shore for breakfast. They seemed to discern His identity only (apparently) because he miraculously produced fish for them, which is something he had done before. On another occasion, Jesus joined two of His followers on a 7 mile walk, and they just assumed He was a stranger visiting the area. It was only after they invited Jesus in for dinner and he broke the bread, did they know who He was (presumably because they saw the nail prints in His hands). Lastly, in the famous “Doubting Thomas” incident, Jesus abruptly appeared in a room full of disciples who thought He was a ghost! Only after He submitted to Thomas’ request to examine His hands and feet did they know it was Jesus.

Are you noticing a pattern here? It seems that after the resurrection, people have a difficult time recognizing Jesus. Why is that?

The popular theory is that the resurrected Jesus had such a “glorious” form, that even His closest companions were blinded by His heavenly appearance. This idea partially stems from our human tendency to disproportionately value physical appearance (which has its roots in comparative thinking).

But why would Mary mistake this “heavenly” figure for a cemetery gardener? The Jewish laws against touching dead things would relegate that job to only the lowliest of people. And why would a “glorious” Jesus scare the crap out of the disciples when he appeared?

While the “glorious” resurrection visage may be a possibility, I’m going to argue against it by looking at a couple verses that describe what Jesus suffered during the crucifixion.

The prophet Isaiah wrote that Jesus would have his beard torn off by His torturers. If you’ve ever known anyone who had a full beard and shaved it off, you know that they look quite different than before. In an even more disturbing prophesy, Isaiah, wrote that the beatings Jesus received during the crucifixion were so brutal that his face no longer looked human!

And now we come to the myth. The common assumption about Jesus’ appearance after the resurrection is that the only physical evidence that He retained from the crucifixion are the nail scars on His hands and feet, and the scar from the spear He took in His side. Other than that, He looked exactly the way He looked before Calvary (if not better).

But the reason for that assumption is NOT because the Bible says or implies that those are the only scars Jesus retained, but because those are the SPECIFIC wounds that Thomas required as evidence!

There is no logical or Biblical reason to think that Jesus didn’t retain ALL the scars from His suffering – Including the massive scar tissue from having his beard ripped off and some degree of facial deformity and additional scarring from the beatings.

If this is true, it would explain the reactions of His followers. It would make sense that Mary would think a disfigured man in a cemetery would be the gardener, and someone would such aesthetics would understandably make the disciples drop a brick in their robes if he suddenly appeared out of nowhere. And while part of the reason the men on the Emmaus road invited Him to dinner may have been a matter of middle-eastern hospitality, they also may have been taking pity on what they thought was an unfortunate stranger.

But why would Jesus choose to retain ANY physical evidence of His horrific death, let alone such disturbing ones? The answer may come from a story I once heard:

There was a little girl whose mother would drop her off for school every morning.   However, the other school children would tease the girl about her mother, because the mother’s face had been badly burned.

One day the little girl asked her mother if she would start dropping her off a couple blocks from the school so that the children would not see the mother and the girl would be spared their teasing.

“I’ve never told you the reason I look like this have I?” The mother responded. “The accident that caused my burns happened when you were a baby, but I think you’re old enough to know now.”

“One day, after you had fallen asleep in your crib, I went outside to do some gardening. After a while, I smelled smoke. I looked up and noticed that the house was on fire! It turned out that there was an electrical surge near your bedroom that caused it, and it was burning out of control.”

“I rushed into the house in a panic. I could hear you crying so I knew you were still alive, but there was a wall of flames between me and your room. I covered myself a best I could and charged in. It was very difficult to get to you and my coverings and clothes began to catch on fire.

“When I finally got to you, I covered you as best I could and shielded you with my body as I ran out. I could barely see due to the smoke so I had to keep my face uncovered. By the time I made it outside, I had third degree burns over most of my body, especially my face. But it didn’t matter, because you were safe. Saving you was all that mattered.

From that point on, the little girl was no longer ashamed of her mother’s looks. In fact, they became a point or pride and comfort. Because now, every time she looked at her mother’s face, she saw the evidence of how much she was loved, and how much someone was willing to sacrifice to save her.

It could be same for that those who choose Salvation and the Meaning of Life. If so, they may spend eternity looking at the face that shows evidence of how much they are loved and how much was sacrificed for their redemption.

But why do I consider this myth so dangerous? On the surface, the worst outcome would simply be the fact that we embrace an incorrect physical image. The problem is that any level of delusion, especially in regards to Jesus and the importance of His redemptive work, can open the door to Satan’s favorite tactic – deception!

In this case, it’s the deception of idolatry – a deception that could eventually cause the LOSS of the Meaning of Life! I’ll explain more in the next post…

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