Christians worldwide are preparing to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The resurrection is the central event in the Holy Scriptures, the pivotal moment of the story of Christ, and the foundational belief of a Christian worldview. Even more, if it happened, it is the pivotal event in all of human history. Some skeptics, however, find the story hard to believe. A few have even gone so far as to assert that the story of Jesus’ resurrection was simply borrowed from pagan myths.
On this day of Holy Week, Jesus wanted silence. The gospels record no activities on this Wednesday. As best we can tell, he spent the day with his disciples at the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus in Bethany, a village two miles east of Jerusalem. Solitude with his Father was Jesus’ consistent pattern, from early in the morning (Mark 1:35) to evening (Matthew 14:23) and through the night (Luke 6:12).
Today is Tuesday of Holy Week. On this day, Jesus faced his critics in a daylong series of debates (cf. Matthew 21-23). Perhaps their most famous exchange came when his opponents asked our Lord, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” (Matthew 22:17). This was a very hot cultural button in the day.
Each year as Easter approaches, pseudo-scholars, newspapers, and cable networks make headlines claiming to offer the real story about Jesus. Their accounts assume that much of the Jesus story contained in the Gospels, especially anything miraculous is largely a myth created and propagated by, first, His followers, and then, Church leaders seeking to expand their power. Despite the skepticism, few suggest that Jesus never existed. Online, of course, that is a different story. So, what if you find yourself in a conversation with someone who says: “No one really knows whether Jesus existed or not.”