2006-10-12 - No Clever Tales
2 Peter 1:16-18 For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, "This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased" 18 and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. (NASB)
Christians have been accused of making up clever tales since before the Roman guards that watched Jesus' tomb were told to lie and say that the disciples came and took the body of Jesus away after his crucifixion. A bunch of fishermen against trained Roman soldiers, and the fishermen win? Better yet, they are told to say they fell asleep on duty - the whole group of guards! If one man fell asleep on duty, the entire group would have been killed. No wonder believers are accused of telling clever tales. These stories told by the guards are not clever, nor do they even make sense.
I have been told that I was having a personal crisis and I invented this Savior, this Jesus. I assure you that I could have invented a dozen things more comforting than an imaginary Lord that now owns my life, and restricts me with rules that often clash with the current culture. The culture clash can be very difficult at times. That is difficult in the still fairly tolerant United States. In other parts of the world that clash of world views can mean the end of your mortal life if the wrong people find out. This is one cross you had better be sure you want to pick up and start carrying.
There is enough evidence to show that there was a man named Jesus, born in Nazareth to Mary and Joseph. Anyone who argues the contrary will not get much attention. The question is this: Are the claims that are made of Him legitimate? Is Jesus a good man, a wise man, a prophet or God in human flesh. His claim was to be the latter. If that is correct, then whatever He has said carries enormous weight, the ultimate weight. If he claims to be God and is not, then the best we can do is pity the man as deluded. The other options are far more dubious.
It was prophecy that spoke of a virgin bearing a son. When Mary was told, even she did not understand how that would work. But she willingly submitted to the will of God. I'm sure the story had been used before by young girls who found themselves having to explain themselves. But it make Mary's claim no less true in the end though only a group of people would believe her in her lifetime. I will agree that the probability of truth is very low. So, that says to me that this is another case where the story is not so clever at all. Add blasphemy to the problems of the story teller.
The whole fabric of the Bible is filled with these stories. We are told the good and the bad. Jesus' resurrection and David's adultery with Bathsheba, Peter's proclamation at Philippi and his emphatic denials after Jesus' arrest. There is a phrase I like that describes this tapestry woven through history - the crimson thread of redemption. The blood that flowed from Adam and Eve through to Noah and his sons, through to both Joseph and Mary to Jesus as was promised to Eve in the garden - that her offspring would redeem mankind.
I am a rotten Holy Spirit. I, in my own strength, will never lead anyone to faith in Jesus Christ. That is not my job. I tell the tales. I am a mirror that reflects the changes in my life. But God brings each of us to a point of decision where we are confronted with the fact that Jesus is either Who He claimed to be, or He is not. The decision is indeed ours to make. But the consequences run as deep for eternity as they do for this mortal existence, deeper in fact. When confronted by the Holy Spirit, consider deeply before walking away - are the tales clever, or are they true?
Grace & Peace,