by Dr. w. euGENE SCOTT (Ph.D., Stanford University)
Preached at the Los Angeles University Cathedral
Copyright © 2009 Pastor Melissa Scott. Dr. Gene Scott ® is a registered trademark name. Pastor
Melissa Scott ® is a registered trademark name. W. euGene Scott Ph.D ® is a registered trademark
name. All rights reserved.
I lost my faith, in college. I lost it because of a subtle psychological pressure. It was all right
to believe in Jesus as a "good and wise" teacher, and elevate Him on an equal plane
with Mohammed, who founded the Islamic faith, with Gautama Buddha, who was a prince of
India and founded Buddhism, with Confucius of China (more of a political philosopher, really)
whose sayings affect so much of that portion of the world – in short, with any respectable founder
of a religion.
I could put Jesus in that category, dispense with Him as a "good and wise teacher," be accepted
and get my intellectual wings. But to hold to the belief that Jesus Christ was the Son of God,
and thus super-natural was simply not acceptable. Parenthetically, I might comment that there is
a current hour-long advertisement on television for tape sales, telling you the origin of all religions.
It starts in Egypt, but they never go to Sumer where the religions started that flowed to Egypt
(and they never got to Babylon). Still, there is no one with any sense that denies the influence
of Egypt on both the Hebrews and the Greeks. Cyrus Gordon settled that.
But in this ad some portly little guy sits there, and some suave, slick-coifed tamed TV
evangelist-looking guy sits there, and they tell you how all religions started, and then they make
an oblique reference to the 16 crucified saviors – which can't be found in the implication of
the analogy drawn.
It's just another example of the current "ecumenical approach to religion" – the religion of
no religion (as it was called by one of my professors in Comparative Religion at Stanford) because
all religions (they say) have "the same root." That approach came at me, persuasively
suggesting that I was not intelligent until I graduate from this "primitive" attitude toward Christ
as the super-natural, divine Son of God and instead accept Him as but another expression,
another founder, in the stream of common religiousness; thus reduced to simply a "good and
The only problem with the intellectual substitute for a faith in a supernatural Christ, namely
just a"good and wise teacher," is that He can't be either one unless He is both.
To be good, you have to tell what's true. You can be insane, you can be a nut, and honestly
believe something that's dead wrong, and be good – but not wise. To be wise, you've got to
be right; to be good, you've got to be honest, and "their" Jesus could be good but not wise, wise
but not good, but definitely not both. Why?
In any source that you have for Jesus in history, if you are going to call him good and wise, you
are going to go to his sayings and you are going to go to his actions. I don't restrict the source
to the Gospels, even though that is where most of the opponents of a supernatural Christ go as
they hunt and peck and pull certain verses out to illustrate his life and sayings, even
highlighting them in red on television.
You can go behind the Gospels. There is a hypothetical "Q" document. One of the early
church fathers said that Matthew wrote down the sayings of Christ as he traveled with Him, not
in Greek but in his native language, Aramaic. We know his Gospel was written most likely at
Antioch and written in Greek. This "Sayings of Jesus," written in Aramaic, may have been a
common source for the Gospels. Those who can read Greek see changes in style in sections of
the Gospels, and can reconstruct these sections to propose a source used by all three of
the Synoptic Gospel writers, Matthew, Mark and Luke (particularly Matthew and Luke).
Most modern scholars regard Mark as written first, because we can see again in the change of
style when Matthew and Luke copy Mark. The most persuasive "common source" behind
the Synoptic Gospels is called the hypothetical "Q" Document (from the German word for
"source"). You can even go to the ancient songs, the earliest fragments. Still, wherever
you encounter Jesus doing something or saying something, attached to every one of those
records will be a saying by Christ or a projection of a self-image that He has of Himself
that precludes calling Him "good and wise" because you will find one or more of the following
in every source:
1. He thought he was perfect.
It doesn't matter whether he was, he thought he was. Carlysle says the greatest of all sins is to
be conscious of none. There's nothing as despicable as a person who thinks he's never made
a mistake. That conscious, self-righteous, perfectionist image is not something we respond
to, because the wisdom of mankind combines in the knowledge that nobody's perfect.
Now the issue is not whether Jesus was perfect; we just don't make saints of people who
think they're perfect. The record of people used by God seeing themselves as not perfect
goes throughout the whole Old Testament – "I am not worthy of the least of Thy mercies – Who
am I that I should lead forth the children of Israel? – I am but a child. I cannot speak."
Always the criterion of acceptance by God and acceptance by man is that conscious attitude
of imperfection. Holy men are aware of the distance they are from God. There was only one man
in the whole kingdom who saw God; in the year King Uzziah died, Isaiah was the only man who
saw God sitting on a throne high and lifted up – that means he was above everybody. His first
words were: "Woe is me; I am undone."
We just don't make saints of people who think they're perfect – but Jesus thought he
was. Everywhere you meet him, he projects that. He judges other people: "whitened
sepulchers;" "strain out a gnat and swallow a camel." He looks at the most righteous people of
the day and puts them down. The reason that no man ought to judge, and anyone who is a
judge should have this sensitive conscience, is that it's hard to judge your fellow man because
we know way down deep we have the same kinds of faults.
But Jesus never had any sense of imperfection. He changed the Law, saying, "You have heard it
said unto you, but behold I say," and then, self-righteously with a consciousness of moral
perfection, says, "Think not that I have come to destroy the Law. I am come to fulfill it."
There is one possible exception to that, when the rich young ruler came to him and said,
"Good Master." He stopped him and said, "Why callest thou me good?" Those that want to talk
about Jesus not thinking he was perfect point to that verse; they miss the rest of it, because
Jesus said to him, "Wait a minute. Don't come and call me good rabbi, good teacher. If you
are going to call me good, also recognize that only God can be good, so don't tap the appellation
on to me without recognizing that I am also God."
He had that sense of moral perfection; no sense of a moral inadequacy is ever exhibited anywhere
in his behavior.
2. He seated all authority in himself.
He even said he had all authority: "You build on what I say, you build on a rock. You build
on anything else, you build on sand. All authority in heaven and earth is given to me."
Again to point to the other illustration used, He said concerning the law (generations of approval
had been placed on it): "You have heard it said unto you, but behold I say..." He
pronounced judgment without a flicker.
Now, we don't make saints of people like that. We ask the criteria, "On what do you base
this authority?" He based it on himself: "Behold, I say unto you..."
3. He put himself at the center of the Religious Universe.
He went further and put himself at the center of the religious universe. Jesus didn't come
preaching a doctrine or a truth apart from himself. He said, "I'm the way. I'm the truth. I'm the
life. By me if any man enter in... I am the door of the sheepfold. He that hateth not father,
mother, wife, children, brother, sister, yea, and his own life also, taketh up his cross and come
after me, cannot be My disciple." He made your relationship with him, putting him the center of
the religious universe, the determinative of all religious benefits.
4. He talked of the Eternal from the inside.
There is a certain frame-of-reference of familiarity with your home. For example, I may matterof-
factly say, "The couch in my office at home is brown. You don't ask, "How do you know?"
We speak of home with "inside knowledge" and it comes across that way. We don't argue;
we expect to be believed. That's the frame-of-reference Jesus projects when he talks about
eternity. Matter-of-factly, he says, "I'm going back. I'm going to prepare a mansion for you.
And after a while, I'll come back and get you and take you there."
He says again, matter-of-factly: "Before Abraham, I was." Or, again, "I saw Satan cast down."
Or, again, "There is joy in heaven by the angels when a sinner repents." He projected and
would have us believe he had "inside knowledge" of eternity and pre-earthly existence before
and after "inside" the heavens with God.
5. He would die, a ransom.
He said something's wrong with the whole world that could only be set right by him dying,
a "ransom" in the context where his hearers knew exactly what a ransom was. The ransom
was what you paid to restore a lost inheritance, to deliver someone destined to death because
of their error. It was the price paid to redeem from the consequences of falling short,
doing something wrong, losing an inheritance – and the ransom restored you to that which had
been lost. He said the whole world was lost, and he came to die and pay the price of ransom,
to redeem them.
6. He would raise again.
He said he would raise again (there was more than that, but I'm choosing very selectively just
a few), that when he died, he would raise from the dead.
Now, if I, the Pastor, walked up to the podium at the Cathedral and picked up the microphone
and said "All authority in heaven and earth is given unto me," you would think, maybe Pastor
means he's going to quote, "that into my hands has been delivered this word of God to preach
with authority." So you might check that one off, that maybe this is the Pastor emphasizing
the authority of the Word that he is reading from.
But if then I went on and said, as though talking to God: "Here I am, Father. I have done all
you sent me to do. There are no flaws in me, no imperfections. The law doesn't bother me, I
have fulfilled it," and started claiming a perfection like Jesus did, you would start backing up
and start looking with sympathy toward Mrs. Scott. And if I further went on to say, "Your
eternal destiny is dependent upon putting me in the center of your life and making me your
master," by then I would have been interrupted or viewed as "off my rocker." I don't think I
would have even gotten to what I didn't include here, that I would have you think that I was
a denizen of eternity.
And what if I were to stand up here and say, not in spiritual terms but expecting to be believed?
– "Before Abraham was I was. You know, that guy that came out of Ur; I was there. I saw
Satan when he was cast out before Adam was ever born."
And then I would talk about heaven with a familiarity with which we talk about our homes. If I
tell you the couch in my home is beige, and you say, "How do you know?," I'm going to
reply, "Because I live there!" But I'm claiming that kind of familiarity with heaven! You put people
in a nut house that talk like that! And then if I would say that I was somehow a ransom for
the world, then, someone help my wife lay hands on me before I'm a "goner."
Will you please stop to realize that this proclaimer of impossible things about himself is the only
kind of Christ who walked around on the stage of history and is the only one you can find in
the sources. You don't find other religious founders doing or saying these things that Jesus
said! Buddha never thought he was perfect; he struggled with the essence of tanya, which was
their meaning for that corrupt desire that produces sin. He sought the way of the sensual
release; he sought the way of the aesthetic yogi, and neither one worked. He came to the eightfold
path that brought him into a trance-like state where he lost conscious identity with this
life, called nirvana. And when he came out of that state, he offered those who followed him
the eight-fold path, and all he would say is, "It worked for me. Try it; it will work for you."
He never thought all authority was seated in him. Instead, he told his disciples (and it's part of
their tri-part basket of scriptures) that he wasn't worthy to lead them. All he left them was the
way that worked for him. No assumption of authority seated in him. He never thought he was
the center of the religious universe. "The Way" worked, his eight-fold path. Same with all the others.
Mohammed never thought he was perfect. He was God's – Allah's – prophet. He had visions
of eternity that impressed the desert man, but he never claimed to have been there. He never
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died a ransom for anybody. He had a criteria for authority: God revealed it to him in a vision.
Jesus never pointed to a vision like the prophet who would say, "The Lord said..." Jesus said,
"I say..." Confucius did a logical analysis of society, and he pointed to that external analysis as
None of the other leaders made themselves the center of the religious universe, seated authority
in themselves, had a consciousness of perfection about themselves, claimed an identity with
eternity before and after their temporary stay here on earth. None of these traits attached to or
are claimed by the other respected founders of a religion. That's why you can respect them
With Jesus, you've got what C. S. Lewis called the "startling alternate." Either He thought
these things were true, but was too stupid to know it's impossible for a man to make these
claims, and thus he could not be wise, or he was wise in knowing these things weren't true, but
was capable of duping his followers because of self-serving motives into believing that about
him, and that makes him not good. The conclusion is, that those who say he was a "good and
wise teacher" reveal they have never really taken the time to encounter the only Christ that
ever walked the stage of history.
You must either view Christ as one who considered himself of the order of a poached egg, or
you take him for what he says he is, and if He is God, then He is perfect, and authority does rest
in Him, and He is the center of the religious universe, and He did have the qualities necessary to
die as a ransom for the whole world. He did have a knowledge of eternity, and He will (and did)
You can't put Jesus in the "good and wise" bland teacher package and forget about Him. He is
either a nut or a fake, or He is what He claimed to be.
Well, when I came to that crossroad, I decided I would settle it for myself. The issue
revolves around this fact of history. Jesus said, to some who wanted a sign, "I'll give you
one." There's only one guaranteed sign on which faith can be built. God has at times gone
beyond this guarantee, but the only sign that God guaranteed to vindicate His truth was the sign
of Jonah, interpreted by Jesus to be the death and the resurrection of Christ.
At one point in the vast flow of history, a FACT emerges. God deigned to move into this tent
of human flesh, fulfill the law that it might become incarnate, chose then to die in our place as
the price of redemption, namely the fulfilled law that He might raise again and adopt us into a
family with His new life without the burden of the law, that was but a school teacher to teach us
our need of God's delivering power.
That He moved onto the stage of history is the claim of Christianity, and He vindicated Himself
with a FACT that can be analyzed. Now it is a FACT there is no such thing as historic certainty.
I learned that while doing my undergraduate major in history. "Historic Certainty" means
every conceivable piece of evidence is there. That which you can conceive as possible evidence
must be there to have historic certainty. The moment an event is past, and no more, you have
lost the eyewitness ability to see it. Cameras help, but there is an element gone, so all
historic certainty by definition is relative. All you can hope for is psychological certainty,
where exposure to the relevant facts of history that are available produces a
reaction psychologically, and that reaction is impossible not to have.
Any smart attorney knows that in a courtroom, there isn't an attorney that says something and
the judge rebukes him, that the attorney knows before he said it that he shouldn't have said it;
he wants the jury to hear it. And the judge bawls out the attorney, and he says, "Yes, your
honor," and plays his little meek role. He knows exactly what he is doing. And then the
judge pontifically looks over at the jury and says, "Discard that from your consideration."
Okay, BANG! That's about the only way you can discard it; it's in there. And you see and hear
and feel, and whatever else the evidence, you still have a reaction.
God vindicated His Son by the Resurrection.
Paul comes to Mars Hill; the philosophers are gathered there trying to consider all the gods,
so worried they will miss one that they have a monument to the Unknown God. He seizes on that
as a lever to talk about Christ. He says, "I'll tell you who the Unknown God is," and preaches
Christ, whom he said God ordained by the resurrection. Paul said if there is no resurrection, our
faith is vain, and we are found false witnesses of God, as we have testified of Him that He raised
up the Christ.
The first message of the church was the one Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, "This
Jesus whom ye know..." And he named the fact that they knew Him crucified; that they also
knew. Then he testified of that which they didn't know, "This Jesus hath God raised up of whom
we all are witnesses," and he introduced that vindicating fact. Paul says in one of his speeches,
"He was seen and He was seen," and he catalogues the witnesses and comes to the cluster he
says, "...to above five hundred brethren at once."
In those days, you could assemble eyewitnesses; not today. But like any other historic fact,
from who wrote Shakespeare to Julius Caesar's existence, you can look for the FACT of history
on which Christianity is based, namely: Jesus came out of the tomb.
And I will say, to set the frame, that if any person listening came in to the Cathedral making
the claims Jesus made about themselves, I would offer the suggestion that they should submit
to psychoanalysis and go to a hospital – unless I could see a twinkle in their eyes, that they
were putting me on – because no mortal man can make these claims. But if with the claims
that person said, "Slay me and in three days I'll come out of the tomb and sail off into the blue,"
and three days later that same person came out of the tomb and sailed off into the blue, I'd
take another look at the one making the claims. I don't need anything else as a basis for my faith;
I don't need all the fancy philosophic trinitarian doctrines. This resurrected one, if it happened, is
my starting point for a personal and real God.
If I can find on the stage of history the One whose words I can spend my life researching, who
was perfect, the center of all authority, the center of the religious universe, and all of these
things, including having redeemed me, raised and prepared mansions in eternity, that's all the God
I need. I start right there.
THE ISSUE IS: DID HE COME OUT OF THE TOMB?
You won't settle that by thinking about it; you research it. Now, to research anything you have
to get a foundation in facts. Most people are fuzzy-minded; they argue a resurrection didn't
occur because it can't occur, and anybody who says it did must be lying. Any other fact,
you research it.
If you're going to ask, "Did Scott preach this message within an hour on this specific
Sunday?" you've got to assume that I was here and that I preached at all. You've got to assume
that the Cathedral exists. You've got to assume that that Sunday came and went. We don't have
to discuss that; we take those facts for granted when determining if the message was less than
an hour. Before we argue whether I preached an hour (or more), let's at least agree that I
preached. You don't have to agree whether it was good or bad, but that I was here and my
mouth moved and said things. That's known as the frame-of-reference – what's taken for granted.
And if someone says "Wow, I don't believe you were there!," then stop with debating clocks.
It's much easier to prove I was here than to prove how long I preached, because you don't yet
know when I started. Was it the preliminary remarks? Was it the first mark on the board?
That's more debatable, but to prove whether I was here at all or not, that's a little easier.
You need to approach the Resurrection the same way. There are certain facts that have to
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be assumed before you discuss the Resurrection. One is, did Jesus live at all? Why are we
talking about whether He raised if we don't believe He lived? There was a time that was
debated; not much anymore. For purposes of today and any meaningful discussion of
the Resurrection, you've got to at least assume:
Fact 1. That Jesus lived.
If you don't believe that... Do you agree that it's probably easier to prove that He lived
somewhere sometime than that He died and rose again? Do you agree with that? So give me
the easier task. "Well, I'm not sure He lived, so don't give me that Resurrection bit." I have
more time to do other things than that. Don't get into any argument about the Resurrection
with somebody who doesn't believe Jesus lived. That's easy to prove; until that's crossed, don't
get to the next one:
Fact 2. That He was crucified at the instigation of certain Jewish religious leaders in Jerusalem.
Roman authorities ordered and carried out the execution.
At the instigation of certain Jewish leaders (not all the Jews, they weren't to blame for that,
His Disciples were Jews, just certain Jewish leaders), the Romans carried out the execution.
Unless you believe that, there's no sense going to the Resurrection. The crucifixion's much easier
to prove than the Resurrection.
Fact 3. That He was considered dead.
Notice I say considered dead, because a few people believe He recovered from the grave
– resuscitated. He was considered dead: pierced with a sword, taken down from the cross, taken
to a grave. Of course, one theorist has come up with a concoction that Jesus practiced this, and
had people take Him to the grave knowing He was going to come out. He practiced on Lazarus
first (so goes the theory) but of course Lazarus was stinking before He started practicing. Some
of the theories stretch the brain more than just accepting the Resurrection, but at least He
was considered dead. If you don't believe that, discussing the Resurrection is premature.
Fact 4. He was buried in a known, accessible tomb.
People of that day, and particularly the Jewish and Roman leaders who participated in the
crucifixion events, knew where the tomb was and could get to it. You couldn't get into it because
of the rock and guards, but the tomb's location was known and accessible.
Fact 5. He was then preached raised.
I'm at this point not saying He raised, but He was preached raised, that the tomb was empty,
and that Jesus ascended. It's important to remember that the whole preachment included:
empty tomb; raised from the dead; and ascending into heaven. All three of those claims
Now, if you don't believe He was preached with all those claims, I'm doing it today: But He
was preached early on and in the same city where He was killed! If you don't believe that (that
this series of claims were preached), that's easier to prove than the Resurrection.
Fact 6. The Jewish leaders who instigated the crucifixion were more interested in disproving
His Resurrection than we would be today.
Common sense will tell you the Jewish leaders who instigated the crucifixion had more interest
in disproving the Resurrection than someone 2,000 years removed, considering it intellectually
with a lot of skepticism mixed in, because the Jewish leaders' reputations and bread and butter
and lives were at stake. If they instigated His crucifixion, accusing Him of trying to set up a
kingdom and accusing Him of blasphemy, and then all of a sudden it's true that He raised from
the dead, they are going to be looking for new jobs. So common sense says they had
more psychological interest in disproving the theory, and would put themselves out a little
more than most people on an Easter Sunday would.
Fact 7. The Disciples were persecuted because of preaching the claims of His Resurrection.
They were horribly persecuted because of this preaching, starting with those Jewish leaders who
first persecuted them – first they called them liars, then said they stole the body away. The
whole Book of Acts tells of the Disciples' persecution for preaching the Resurrection.
Later, centuries later, Christians in general became a target for the evils in the Roman Empire
and became scapegoats, and were punished for other reasons, but every record agrees that
the earliest persecutions would have stopped immediately if the Disciples had quit preaching
this Resurrection message, and the Ascension of Jesus. That's why they were persecuted,
because the Jewish leaders had their reputations at stake. Thus,
Fact 8. The tomb was empty.
All this leads to the fact, common sense says, if the Jewish leaders who instigated the
crucifixion (Fact 2), having the extra interest because their livelihood was at stake (Fact 6); and
if He was buried in a known, accessible tomb (Fact 4), they would have gone immediately to
that tomb and discovered the body. Therefore, it is axiomatic that the tomb was empty. The
tomb became meaningless because it was empty! Centuries went by and the tomb was lost
to history, because there was no body in it! Then, when the "relic period" began to grow, people
got interested in his tomb, in which there had been no interest because there was no body in it,
and tried to find it. And the whole church world still fights today over the classical site of the
ancient historic churches, and Gordon's tomb that most of the Protestants identify with, just off
from the bus station below the escarpment of a rock called "Golgotha" that has an Arab cemetery
on top. The fight occurred because the tomb was lost to history; there was no body in it.
Now, these facts are easier to demonstrate than the Resurrection, but unless these facts
are accepted, you can't deal with all the theories about the Resurrection. For example, the
preaching has been so effective that all through the centuries people have come up with theories
to explain it. Now, the reason that I do this every Easter is that I try to demonstrate that you
don't have to park your brains at the door of the church when you come in, intelligent analysis is
You don't just make people believe, but if you expose yourself to evidence, something
happens inside and there will be a psychological reaction. My quarrel with people who deny
the Resurrection and live a life style that pays no attention to it, is that I can ask them 15
questions and find they haven't spent 15 hours of their life looking at evidence for it.
If the Resurrection is true, this is the center of the universe. If the Resurrection is true, this is
the central fact of history. You have to be a fool among all fools of mankind to think it's not worth
at least 30 hours of study in your whole life. Furthermore, there are many intelligent people in
the world who have looked and come away convinced. That's why I am doing this. Because
the Disciples' preachments are so sincere in their nature, all kinds of theories have been broached
to explain their belief, but the theories won't fly if you assume the eight facts previously stated.
Theory 1. The Disciples stole the body.
Theory 2. The Jewish leaders stole it.
Theory 3. The Roman leaders stole it.
Theory 4. The women went to the wrong tomb.
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You know, it was dark and they got lost like "women-walkers" – they didn't have women drivers,
but women walkers. They went to the wrong tomb, and they believed He rose, and I mean, they
ran screaming and crying out of the garden, "We went and He wasn't there!" They went to
the wrong tomb; they went to an empty one waiting for somebody else.
Theory 5. It was all hallucinations.
Glorified day dreams. They were sincere; they believed that this happened because they had
all these hallucinations.
Theory 6. Resuscitation theory.
He was crucified and He was considered dead, and He was buried in a known tomb, but He
wasn't dead, and in the coolness of the tomb He revived and came out wrapped in the grave
clothes and, thank God, the guards were asleep, and He pushed that rock out of the way – and
here comes Frankenstein!
Theory 7. The Disciples lied.
They made the whole thing up. They'd bet on the wrong horse and they just couldn't live with it
so they made up this whole story and it took them seven weeks to figure it out, and then they told it.
Theory 8. IT'S ALL TRUE.
They are telling exactly what they experienced and what they saw. Now, just as you got
the "startling alternate" when you consider the only Jesus in history, that He's either a madman,
a nut, a faker, or He's what He said He was, and that requires a definition of divinity, you have
a "startling alternate" here.
All these theories sound good in isolation. Even the first theory (the Disciples stole the body),
which the Jewish leaders themselves concocted. But this theory on its face forces you to indict
the Disciples as liars. You are thus again forced to a "startling alternate."
I hate – I've always hated it when I was doing my degree in history – I hate a selfrighteous
objective historian: "I'm objective; I take no opinion." There's no such thing as
a knowledgeable person that doesn't have an opinion. Knowledge forces an opinion; no exposure
to facts keeps you neutral. Knowledge forces an opinion, and when you study the facts about
Jesus listed above, there are only two options allowed. Either the Disciples lied or they
honestly reported the truth. Let's examine each Theory and deduce the option:
#1 They stole the body (Theory 1), then they obviously lied (Theory 7).
#2. The Jewish leaders stole the body (Theory 2)?
These facts preclude that: they were more concerned than anyone to disprove the preachment
(Fact 6), so why would they make the tomb empty? And if they had, they would have said, "Wait
a minute; we took His body from the tomb." They couldn't even think of that story; they told
the one about the Disciples (Theory 1), but even if that were tenable, the Disciples didn't preach
just an empty tomb and simply the Resurrection. They preached a seen and living Jesus with
whom they partook food; they preached the Ascension with equal vigor. So even if the
Jewish leaders' taking the body would explain the empty tomb, the Disciples are still telling the
add-ons of the encounters with the Resurrected body and the Ascension, so they have expanded
and "made up" a lot of the story – in other words, they still lied.
#3. Roman leaders took the body (Theory 3)? With the controversies in Jerusalem, with the
contacts the Jewish leaders had with the Romans, enabling them to get the crucifixion done,
don't you think they would have exposed that fact, that officials of the Roman government took
the body? But even if that explains the empty tomb, it does not alleviate the Disciples'
responsibility for preaching a Resurrected body that they had encounters with, and the Ascension,
so they're still lying.
#4. The women went to the wrong tomb (Theory 4)? It was a known accessible tomb (Fact 4).
The Jewish leaders interest (Fact 6) would have taken them to the known tomb, and all they had
to do to explain the wrong tomb theory was go to the tomb where the body is – and they
would have done it.
#5. Hallucinations (Theory 5)? Well, the empty tomb (Fact 8) blasts that. If it had been
just hallucinations, there would have been a body in the tomb. You have to couple it with
spiriting the body away. So, they're still lying.
#6. Resuscitation (Theory 6)? Well, that Frankenstein coming out of the tomb doesn't quite
measure up to the good Jesus that was preached. It might explain the empty tomb, but it
doesn't explain the kind of Jesus that they had preached, doesn't explain the Ascension – they
still made the rest of it up.
So no matter how you look at it, if you assume the eight facts which are much easier to
demonstrate than the Resurrection, there are only two options, two conclusions, because it
boils down to the veracity of the witnesses. That's why I have no respect for those who deny
the Resurrection and have not read the classic, Sherlock's Trial of the Witnesses. He postulated
a courtroom scene where all the witnesses were gathered and subjected to the kind of evidence
of an English court. Or they haven't read Who Moved the Stone? by an attorney who set out
to disprove the Resurrection and ended up writing one of the most convincing proof arguments.
You are faced with a "startling alternate": either OPTION 1 (which is Theory 7): these
Disciples made the story up to save face and the whole thing is a lie, or OPTION 2 (which is
Theory 8): They're telling what they truly experienced as honest men.
Now, if you are having trouble distinguishing between "Facts," "Options" and "Theories," let
me make it clear: There are eight facts which reduce eight theories to only the startling
alternate theories 7 and 8, which become the only two credible theories, thus the only
two remaining options, "Theories" 7, they lied, or 8, they told the truth!
And when we come to that point, the entire Christian faith revolves around this question: were
these Disciples who were the witnesses honest men telling what they saw, or conspirators
who concocted a lie to save face? There are four reasons why I cannot believe they were lying:
Reason 1. Cataclysmic change for the better on the part of the witnesses.
Everybody agrees Peter was unstable, and even when with a group he could not be counted on
to stand. He fled in fear and he denied his Lord, he was always in trouble because of his
extremes and his instability. After the Resurrection, he is the man that preaches to a mocking
mob, he fulfills his destiny to become the Rock, he dies with courage requesting that he be
turned upside down because he is not worthy to die in the position of his Master – a
cataclysmic change that can be identified to a point in history, and that point in history is where
they began to tell this story of the Resurrection.
John? He was self-centered to the extreme. He was one of the brothers called "Sons of Thunder."
He wanted to call fire down from heaven on everyone that opposed him. He and his brother
used their mother to seek the best seat in the kingdom. After they began to tell this
Resurrection story, every scholar agrees John was a changed man. Instead of a "Son of
Thunder," he's almost wimpish in his never-failing expression of love. He is known as the "Apostle
Thomas is consistently a doubter: from start to finish, he's a doubter. He's a realist; he
questions everything. When Jesus is going to go through Samaria and faces death, and tells
His Disciples about it, Thomas then says, "Let us also go, that we may die with Him."
That's courage, but he thought Jesus would actually die; that's a humanistic view.
When Jesus is discussing going away, building mansions in heaven, says, "Whither I go ye
know, and the way ye know," all the rest of them are surely shouting about the mansions.
Thomas is listening to every word. He says "We don't know where you are going; how can we
know the way?" Now that's a consistent thumbnail sketch of a personality trait.
Who is it that's doubting when the Resurrection comes? Same guy. "I won't believe 'til I touch
Him, put my hands in the marks of death." The moment arrives. Jesus is there and says to
Thomas, "Behold my hands and my side." He says, "It is more blessed to believe without
seeing." That is an axiomatic truth, but He did not condemn Thomas. He just stated that fact,
and then He offered to submit to the test, which is what we are doing today. He said, "Behold
my hands and my side." And Thomas cried, "My Lord and my God."
It is significant that in the most philosophic area of the world, where the Vedanta philosophies
have produced Buddhism and the Eastern religions that flow out of it, it is Thomas that pierces
the Himalayas to die a martyr near Madras, India, to be the herald of faith in the most
challenging philosophic area of the world at that time, and never again does he waver an instant
in faith – a total change from a consistent doubter to an unwavering "faither."
Now, you can say, a crisis will change people, but a lie will seldom change people for the
better; they'll get worse. These men are cataclysmically changed for the better; I don't think
that telling a lie would do that.
Reason 2. Indirect evidences and internal consistencies.
There are indirect evidences of truth. Mark wrote to Gentiles; you can count it in Mark's Gospel,
he has Christ referring to Himself as "Son of Man" more often than any other Gospel. Count
Now if he was a liar, knew he was lying, trying to perpetrate a fraud, why would he have Jesus
refer to Himself with a phrase that suggests humanity when his purpose is to try to represent
Jesus as the Son of God? If he's a liar, he'd just have Jesus refer to Himself as the Son of God.
But ironically, as God's little hidden evidences of honesty, in Mark's Gospel, written to
Gentiles, designed to prove that Jesus was the Son of God, he had Jesus refer to Himself as the
Son of Man more than any other Gospel.
Now, Jesus did refer to Himself as the "Son of Man" because Jesus was preaching to a
Hebrew audience that read the Book of Enoch and read the Book of Daniel where the Son of
Man was viewed as Messiah coming in clouds of glory to set up His kingdom. So it's quite proper
for Jesus to refer to Himself as the Son of Man in a messiah mentality, but if you are writing
to Gentiles who don't know anything about the Old Testament, and trying to perpetrate a lie
that Jesus is the Son of God, unless you're just basically honest and telling the truth, you
wouldn't have Jesus say "Son of Man" as often. Why not change what He said to serve
your purpose? Inherent honesty. I could give you a dozen of those, but that is what historians
call indirect evidence of honesty.
Let me give one more. In the New Testament world, women were thought incapable of being
a credible witness. The Disciples knew that, so why would they present women as the first
witnesses of the Resurrection? If they were telling a lie, they would know that their world
would discount women witnesses. Liars would have avoided recording women witnesses.
More intrinsic evidence they were simply reporting what actually occurred.
The fact that the Disciples waited seven weeks is used by those who say they were lying as the
time needed for them to cook up the lie. If they are smart enough to tell a lie of this nature,
my judgment is, they would have figured that out. They waited seven weeks because Jesus
told them to wait. That's the action of honest men, even though waiting that long hurts their story
– if they were going to make up a lie.
Reason 3. Price paid.
You don't pay the price these men paid to tell a lie. All of them, save John, died a martyr's
death: Bartholomew flayed to death with a whip in Armenia; Thomas pierced with a Brahmin
sword; Peter crucified upside down, St. Andrew crucified on St. Andrew's cross (from which it
gets its name); Luke hanged by idolatrous priests, Mark dragged to death in the streets
of Alexandria. These men paid beyond human belief for their "lie."
Reason 4. They died alone.
St. Thomas Aquinas' great – greatest, I think – proof of the veracity of the Disciples and
the Resurrection is that they died alone. Now, as I do every year when I finish this message, I
can conceive of a group of men trying to save face, telling a story, having bet on the wrong
man, crushed by His failure (as they would view it), trying to resurrect Him with a lie.
I can conceive of them staying together and group pressure holding together the consistencies
of their lie, because they don't want to be the first one to break faith and rat on the others
and collapse the whole thing.
Let's assume that Bobby Boyle and Jerry McIntyre and Richard Williams concocted this story.
You don't have television, you don't have satellite, you don't have FAX, you don't have
telephone, and as long as you stay together under great pressure, you don't want to be the
one, Jerry, to let Richard and Bobby down.
But now separate you. You, Jerry, be Bartholomew in Armenia, and you, Bobby, be Thomas over
in India. And Richard, you be Peter in Rome. You have lost contact with each other. You can't
pick up a phone and call anybody; nobody knows where you are, and since you know you are
telling a lie and you know you don't really expect the generations forever to believe it, and
you, Jerry, in Armenia, are being flayed to death literally – that is, skinned with a whip, your
skin peeled off of you – all you've got to do to get out is say, "It's all a lie," and "Forgive me;
I'm leaving town."
Bobby wouldn't know it; Richard wouldn't know it. You could see them next time, exchanging
stories together and saying, "Boy, I really tore them up there in Armenia. I told the story,
and nobody could forget it the way I told it." Bobby and Richard wouldn't know you lied.
You, Bobby, you're going to be pierced with a sword in India; you are never going to see Jerry
or Richard again. All you have to do to get out of the pressure is say, "It's a lie."
You, Richard, you're off in Rome; you're a little more exposed, but with your life at stake, all
you have to say is, "Sorry. Maybe I dreamed it" and wiggle out and head to France.
As Thomas Aquinas said, it is psychologically inconceivable that these men, separated, each
one paying the supreme price for their story and each one dying alone, that some one of the
group wouldn't break away from his fellows and say, "Hey, it wasn't true!"
To die alone. And not one shred of evidence surviving 2,000 years of hard-looking critics, you
will never find one record any where on the face of this earth where any one of these men
ever wavered unto their terrible death in telling this story. Therefore, I came to the
conclusion there's no way these men were lying. They were telling what they thought
and experienced and saw as true.
I remember doing this with my professor Larry Thomas at Stanford, and he said to me, "Gene, I
am convinced. These men believed what they were telling. Therefore, some one of these other
eight facts must be wrong." Well, if you're honest and you say that, I've got you, because
those other eight are a lot easier to demonstrate. What is the alternative?
IT'S TRUE, AND HE CAME OUT OF THAT GRAVE.
Well, if that is true, then what? All the rest of this is true, and I have a starting point for a faith in
a God eternal. And I then have crossed over that threshold where I can now comprehend
what Christianity is, for if I can believe that Jesus Christ came through those grave clothes,
through that rock, through that door, and sailed off in the blue, then molecular displacement
is nothing to Him – He can do it without creating an explosion. It is true that all things consist
in Him, and He can control them.
Therefore, it's not difficult at all to believe that that same substance of God, placed in Mary,
came forth as Jesus of Nazareth through the Holy Spirit. God says He places that same
God-substance in us when we trust Him. That is the true born-again experience – a generator of
life, a regeneration, a new creation that penetrates my cell structure and is placed in me as a
gift from God when I connect by trusting His word.
That's the genesis of all Christianity, properly seen, that Christ is in us the hope of glory. I
don't have to become some mystic or far-out freak to understand what Christianity is. I can
now spend my life pursuing His words, including the authority He attaches to the Old
Testament, and the promises that are written therein. And each time I grab hold of those and act
on my belief, and sustain the action in confidence, that faith connection keeps in me a life
substance the same as that which raised up Christ from the dead. That new life substance is
as capable of changing my nature as radioactive material, invisible though it may be, can
change your cell structure as you hold it.
God puts a life in us capable of regenerating, and that's why spirituality is the expressions of
the spirit, and why righteousness is called the fruit of the spirit. It is that new life growing
out through us which can only be maintained by faith in His word, but it was founded and
based upon the solid rock of the provable quality of "He raised from the dead," and it gives me
faith to believe that He will do the other thing He said, which is come again.
Copyright © 2009 Pastor Melissa Scott. Dr. Gene Scott ® is a registered trademark name. Pastor
Melissa Scott ® is a registered trademark name. W. euGene Scott Ph.D ® is a registered trademark
name. All rights reserved.
Pastor Melissa Scott
P.O. Box 1
Los Angeles, CA 90053
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