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Reinforcing Evangelists and Aiding Pastors

I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored...and you have entered their labors. (John 4:38)

Shock and Awe at Easter
Just after 50,000 Japanese were marching downtown carry?ing "No war" signs, Iraq woke up to "Shock and Awe" as smart bombs found the sleeping place of Saddam Hussein.

As we write, there is still doubt. They haven't found his body. However 2,000 years ago the people of Jerusalem were shocked and awed, even though they had strung up Jesus on a cross and taken the body down in full view of the mob. Christians and Jews.

That's not Good Friday. That's Bad Friday. And the peo?ple went home, some gleefully. Most sadly. They said, "Jesus is dead. We saw his lifeless body" Shocked and awed, they planned their futures without Christ.

But Black Friday became Good Sunday, and the ladies came running back to the scared men: "Jesus is alive! We saw him." They were shocked into reality and probably broke into a song like, gHe lives; He lives. Christ Jesus lives today. He walks with me and talks with me along lifefs narrow way. He lives; He lives. Christ Jesus lives today. You ask me how I know He lives. He lives within my heart!h

One of my four sons sent an email from Arnaud De Bourgrave, President of United Press International from Amman, Jordan. It told of a peacenik from Japan who was also "shocked into reality" He is one of the Weekender's contrib?utors: my son, Ken P. Joseph.

UPI said that, along with 15 Japanese human shields (ninven tale), he was in Iraq protesting the war, and then he met his Assyrian relatives who told him that they wanted America to lib?erate them from 30 years under this gruesome dilator. "Go out of Iraq and tell the world: We welcome a war:' they prodded.

Think back 2,000 years: Jesus died, was buried and rose again.

Exactly as was foretold and witnessed by the most famous Jew, Paul, who went around killing Christians. After Paul was shocked into reality, he summa?rized the shock and awe of Faster "that Christ, the Messiah, the anointed one, died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures. That He was buried and that He rose on the third day as the Scriptures foretold."

Here is the difference between the 7,000 other religions and Christianity. None of their founders ever rose again. Even in the light of these facts some people still believe that the four Gospel accounts of Jesusf resurrection are merely a legend, that His body was stolen or that his disciples were con-fused or disillusioned.

Lee Strobel, a former atheist and legal editor of The Chicago Tribune, interviewed historians, apologists and philosophers about these issues for a book?The Case for Christ?that investigates whether Jesus of Nazareth was who he claimed to he. This excerpt discusses the pros and cons of and the importance of his resurrection. He interviewed William Craig, considered the world's foremost expert on the resurrection, saying, "Give me your best shot. Convince me with your top six reasons that the empty tomb is a historical fact.

He concluded: First, the empty tomb is implicit in the early tradition that is passed along by St. Paul in I Corinthians 15. This is a very old and reliable source of historical information about Jesus.

Second, Jesus' tomb was known to Christian and Jew alike. So if it weren't empty, it would be impossible for a movement founded on belief in the Resurrection to have come into existence in the same city where this man was publicly executed and buried.

Third, we can tell from the language, grammar and style of Markfs Gospel that he got his empty-tomb story from an earlier source, written before A.D. 37, which is much too early for leg-end to have seriously corrupted it. It would have been without precedent anywhere in history for legend to have grown up that fast and to have significantly dis?torted the Gospels.

Fourth, the simplicity of the empty-tomb story in Mark Fictional apocryphal accounts from the second century contain all kinds of flowery narratives, in which Jesus comes out of the tomb in glory and power, with everybody seeing Him, including priests, Jewish authorities and Roman guards. Those are the way legends read, but these don't come until generations after the events, which is after eyewitness-es have died. This is stark in its simplicity and unadorned by the?ological reflection.

Fifth, the unanimous testi?mony that the empty tomb was discovered by women argues for the authenticity of the story. Why? Because in ancient Jewish culture, a woman's testimony meant nothing. It would be embarrassing fol. the disciples to admit that women found the empty tomb, and it most certain?ly would have been covered up if this were a legend.

Sixth, the earliest Jewish argument presupposes the truth of the empty tomb. In other words, nobody claimed the tomb still contained Jesus' body. The question was: What happened to the body?

As I dictate this, CNN and Fox New Channel are saying gWe have found the body of eChemical Alif and his body guard in his Basra Palace.h They are still looking for Saddamfs body though they just bombed the palace where he and his sons may have beencseeking to escape Iraq.

They never found Jesus' dead body because the tomb was empty and Jesus was walking around.

"Jewish leaders proposed the ridiculous story that the guards had fallen asleep. They grasped at straws. But the point is this: They started with the assumption the tomb was vacant! Why? Because they knew it was!"

"In the face of these facts, skeptics are impotent to put Jesus' body back into the tomb. They flounder. They struggle. They contradict themselves. Arid they pursue extraordinary theo?ries to try to account for the evi?dence.

Yet, each time, in the end, the tomb remains vacant. What does that mean to us?

Theologian Gerald O'Collins put it this way: "In a profound sense, Christianity without the Resurrection is not simply Christianity without its final chapter. It is not Christianity at all."

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