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The Cross and the Empty Tomb

 

Paul spoke of “the offense of the cross” in Gal. 5:11. And, of course, Jesus himself has been referred to as “a stumbling stone and a rock of offense” (Rom. 9:33).

Therefore, it is not surprising that the ACLU threatened Los Angeles County with a lawsuit unless they removed a small cross from the official seal of the county. The tiny cross was placed on the seal over fifty years ago to memorialize the early Christian impact on Los Angeles by Spanish missionaries.

Although the seal primarily featured a prominent picture of Pomona, the Roman goddess of the harvest, the tiny cross has been removed and the Roman goddess remains on the seal.

In Charlotte, N.C., Caldwell Memorial Presbyterian Church voted unanimously last year to lease the congregation’s gymnasium and educational building to an Islamic school in order to bolster their weakening financial status. At the insistence of the Islamic school and with the acquiescence of Caldwell’s leaders, two large crosses were removed and stained glass windows displaying Christian symbols were covered up.

You may also be familiar with the fight to remove the 29-foot Mt. Soledad cross from the landscape of La Jolla, Calif. The fate of the cross was uncertain for 18 years until a recent California Supreme Court decision announced that it would not hear an appeal challenging the right of the cross to remain on property where it has stood for more than 50 years.

Now, American atheists have gone to a federal court to stop certain state highway patrol and department of transportation officials from erecting Christian crosses on state property that honor state troopers killed in the line of duty.

Furthermore, in February the Supreme Court refused to hear a New York City policy that bans public school displays of nativity scenes (and presumably crosses), but allows Jewish menorahs and the Islamic star and crescent to be on display.

Now, in addition to attempting to remove the cross from public view, Simcha Jacobovici and Charles Pellegrino have written a book, The Jesus Tomb, declaring that the bones of Jesus, Joseph, and Mary have been found in a burial chamber near Jerusalem. The book has been made into a documentary film.

This ludicrous claim is nothing more than the attempt of entertainment exploiters who hope to line their pockets with “filthy lucre” by hitching a ride on the reputation of Jesus.

Professor Amos Kloner, one of Isreal’s prominent archeologists and the scholar who supervised the discovery of the bones in an ossuary 27 years ago, in a recent interview with the Jerusalem Post declared emphatically that the current theory “is impossible. It’s nonsense.”

Kloner added, “There is no likelihood that Jesus and his relatives had a family tomb. They were a [poor] Galilee family with no ties in Jerusalem. The Talpoit tomb belonged to a middle-class family from the 1st century C.E.”

The question of the ages is: What happened to the body of Jesus? Some think the Jews stole it, but they were the ones who insisted that the Roman guards be posted to ensure that his body remained in the tomb and His teachings died with Him.

Others suspect that the Romans stole the body of Jesus, but they had no motivation for doing such a thing. Others think the disciples stole the body of Jesus, but they were cowardly. They would have needed to overpower the Roman soldiers to steal the body of Christ.

To me the three most convincing proofs that Jesus rose from the dead and evacuated that tomb are: (1) The Bible declares it. “And the angel answered and said … He is not here, for he is risen, as he said, Come, see the place where the Lord lay” (Matt. 28:5-6).

(2) The changed lives of the disciples after they had seen the risen Christ is another mark of the story’s truthfulness. They were no longer cowardly, but courageous. They were no longer timid, but tenacious. They were no long doubting, but shouting. They were persecuted for proclaiming the resurrection and ultimately gave their lives for this message: “Jesus Christ rose from the dead and He is alive.”

(3) Let the scoffers scoff. Let the doubters doubt. Let the critics criticize. Let the atheists howl. Let the ACLU (Anything Christian Looks Unlawful) sling their lawsuits against the cause of Christ. I can only say that I believe the message of Easter and the reality of the resurrection, because He is alive in my heart.