I can tell that Easter is near. Every year about this time, several television specials and news magazines focus on the fact that Christians still believe in Jesus even though they should not. In about a week, expect Time Magazine (or its equivalent) to run a cover story on how/why the resurrection could not have possibly taken place. Predictably, they will claim Jesus either 1) did not die 2) stayed dead, or 3) was never alive in the first place. Each year, several media outlets predict an end to Christian faith, despite the fact that each year there are still billions of Christians around the world.
Tonight Discovery will ask Who Framed Jesus? Here is their own synopsis:
Who Framed Jesus?
For two thousand years, blame for the murder of Jesus has rested squarely on the shoulders of Judas Iscariot and the Jewish High Priest. This gritty crime thriller exposes all-new suspects and asks whether we have condemned the wrong men?
First notice that Jesus was murdered. They carefully did not use the word crucified, nor did they say he died or was killed. I can’t even imagine who their all-new suspects are going to be, but the t.v. spots have been asking who else (besides Judas and the Sanhedrin) had a motive. Then finally, have we condemned the wrong men?
So exactly what is my problem? There’s an old saying that’s no such thing as bad publicity. It is true that the reason t.v. and news mags cover this story each year is that billions of people in the world still profess Christian faith after 2,000 years. Drawing attention to that fact gets the name and face (tongue in check) of Jesus in front of people, forcing them to make a decision of some type. But the intent is always to undermine. The goal of each story, expose and investigation is always to turn us away from placing faith in the Gospel story. The goal is always to convince us: Jesus was not the Son of God, there was no resurrection, the crucifixion did not mean anything, Jesus never claimed to be the Messiah, the disciples made the whole thing up, the Romans created Christianity in order to spread their empire and so on. There are multiple conspiracy theories, many of which conflict with the others, but it doesn’t matter. The end result is meant to be that no one believes this scriptural truth: GOD FRAMED JESUS.
In his sermon on Pentecost (Acts 2) Peter points out that while Jesus died at the hands of evil men, they were simply fulfilling God’s plan. Compare the following passage from Acts 2 to Isaiah 53:
Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. -Acts 2: 22-24
Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief; -Isaiah 53:10
The entire chapter 53 is a detailed description of the crucifixion, written down a thousand years beforehand. Crucifixion was the Roman method of execution; recall that the Jews stoned offenders to death. Isaiah wrote this account before Roman power had taken over the Mediterranean world. Inspired by God to write, he might not have even understood what he was talking about.
The crucifixion of Jesus was according to God’s will, and fulfilled God’s plan of salvation. For further study, try Hebrews 9. When Peter drew his sword at Gethsemane, Jesus himself told him to put it away. He delivered himself into the hands of his captors. Pilate did not wish to crucify Jesus, and tried to talk the Jewish mob out of it. He prodded Jesus to say something in defense of himself. Herod only wanted to see some sign or magic trick, and sent the crowd away. Judas relented of the evil he had done, and tried to give the money back to the priests. The same Jews who cried Hosanna a week earlier now called for the death of Jesus; and there was nothing anyone could have done differently to stop it. The Bible tells us clearly who framed Jesus: God framed Jesus.