Because I do a lot of reading in the area of Christian Apologetics- it was unmistakable to see arguments and reaction surrounding the death of Osama Bin Laden were parallel to the reaction to the news of Christ's resurrection as recorded in the gospels. It says a lot about the nature of belief and the prerequisites of proof.
I'm not going to journal about this in any scholarly debate- just a few random thoughts comparing the most notorious terrorist of our day and the beautiful Savior of the world.
#1 The ideologues are more willing to 'disbelieve' and almost impossible to convince.
I have been reading all the responses- and already there are some who will NEVER believe. We have DNA! 'Nope, just family comparison and you know tests and government deception.' His own daughter confirms he was killed! Nope, she was mistaken. We have eyewitnesses! Nope, all a conspiracy.
The same is true of Jesus. Most hardened skeptics (and to be honest- all human beings born in sin) start with 'unwilling to believe' and for them evidence will never be proof.
#2 Extremely hard to get a clean narrative during an emotional and dramatic event.
The timeline has had to be adjusted and a lot of the details conflict at times. Again, communication is a tricky skill- what we thought we said- what we thought we heard- and sometimes apparent contradictions are both true! The doubters believe this is more proof of fabrication, but this is the shared experience of all human beings- without all the details- we have to trust the primary sources.
Same is true of the gospels. Apparent discrepancies in the timeline actually make the event more real to me. I trust the men who saw it- who wrote that they saw it- and who died for that testimony!
#3 False rumors and false evidence can cloud the event in mystery.
Apparently, three senators were shown fake pictures- and we all saw the early release of an Osama death picture that was photoshopped. One of President Obama's reasons for not releasing the image of a dead Bin Laden is that the doubters won't believe it anyway. He's right about that one. There are some who still don't think we landed on the moon!
Same with Jesus- the history of relics has been a sketchy business at best. We have seen the reverse of this by the latest attempts to prove that they found Jesus' burial ossuary. That is why I don't list the Shroud of Turin as part of my evidence- I find it interesting but hold it at arm's length.
#4 It is hard to sway a person once he has judged based on his own presuppositions.
The hardened skeptic thinks he sees the proof so clearly. But we are all tainted by our inner pre-suppositions. ALL MEN LIVE BY FAITH.
That is why faith in Christ is actually a gift. The Holy Spirit subdues our resistance and breaks through the enemies counter attacks. Any time you see a person bow their knee to Christ, it is a miracle. But after that miracle- that person receives the most compelling evidence of all- experiencing Jesus himself! And it is a sweet time- though we are prone to forget and drift.
I am convinced that the resurrection of Jesus is adequately verifiable and there is no alternative theory that can explain all of the agreed upon historical evidence. I encourage you to check out a new APP for IPAD that explores this solid evidence. It was partly developed by my friend, Doug Powell, and I had a chance to explore it during a recent lunch appointment with him. Click here for a link to the app: RESURRECTION IWITNESS
In the end, will it will be easier to prove Osama is gone or confirm the historical resurrection of Jesus? All the authorities had to do in ancient Jerusalem was to have presented the body of Jesus and Christianity would have ended (I Corinthians 15). But I am predicting that there will be Osama videos that will inflame some to believe that he is just as alive as Elvis is. There were some who even believed that Hitler ended up in South America.
There was also unprecedented debate surrounding the 'cheering' of large American crowds in celebration of the news. I noticed a clean divide between strong believers regarding whether it was right to rejoice in the death of this man.
I think we should be careful to judge others on their human reactions. The myriad of motives surrounding the public celebrations are too many to envelop in one American mindset. It is likely to assume that some were exuberant about our troops brave assault and elimination of a man who has slaughtered thousands. Some were likely over exuberant in blood lust without any regard to human sin and tragedy and, to be honest, some people are always looking for an excuse to party.
There are two Biblical accounts that we also need to throw into the debate: one is a general narrative and the other a specific passage.
The narrative has to do King David who seemed to have 3 different responses in confronting evil and injustice.
We know the first one- I Samuel 17-
When, as a teenager, David got to the battle lines, he heard Goliath shouting his daily defiance and he saw the great fear stirred within the men of Israel. David responded, "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of God?"
We know the story- but remember he cut off his head- and brought it back to Jerusalem!
A far different action and response in I Samuel 24 when David spared Saul's life. Instead of killing him with a knife, David only cut part of Saul's robe as an act of mercy.
Saul's weeping response is telling:
Saul asked, “Is that your voice, David my son?” And he wept aloud. 17 “You are more righteous than I,” he said. “You have treated me well, but I have treated you badly. 18 You have just now told me about the good you did to me; the LORD delivered me into your hands, but you did not kill me. 19When a man finds his enemy, does he let him get away unharmed? May the LORD reward you well for the way you treated me today. 20 I know that you will surely be king and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hands. 21 Now swear to me by the LORD that you will not kill off my descendants or wipe out my name from my father’s family.” 22 So David gave his oath to Saul. Then Saul returned home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold.
One final point before I comment. We find a strange account is II Samuel 6:
14David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the LORD with all his might, 15while he and the entire house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouts and the sound of trumpets.
16As the ark of the LORD was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, she despised him in her heart.17They brought the ark of the LORD and set it in its place inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and David sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offeringsf before the LORD. 18After he had finished sacrificing the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD Almighty.19Then he gave a loaf of bread, a cake of dates and a cake of raisins to each person in the whole crowd of Israelites, both men and women. And all the people went to their homes.
20When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, disrobing in the sight of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!”
21David said to Michal, “It was before the LORD, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the LORD’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the LORD. 22I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.”
23And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.
What do we make of these three varied choice and reactions? Did David change? No, I submit that each situation led to an action by David which was appropriate and in line with his convictions and did not violate his conscience or his fellowship with God. Now, we know that there were times David did not act appropriately- but the point is, it is hard to know the heart motivations which make us choose and the actions and reactions are more complex that we can ever communicate cleanly.
One final Biblical reference- Revelation Ch 19:
1 After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: “Hallelujah!
Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,
2 for true and just are his judgments.
He has condemned the great prostitute
who corrupted the earth by her adulteries.
He has avenged on her the blood of his servants.”
3 And again they shouted:
The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever.”
WOW- here is the righteous in heaven cheering- IN A GREAT ROAR- regarding the fall of Babylon and the defeat of Satan.
What is my conclusion? I believe we respond and react out of our heart conditions. We do it out of strengths and weaknesses. Patrick Henry was the one who said, "Different men often see the same subjects in different lights." We need to be careful about picking a verse and throwing it at a brother who might be well within his conscience and Scriptural authority. Some cheer out of sin and some stay silent out of sin.
A final major point: Osama is dead and Jesus is alive. Osama was a man and Jesus is God. Osama sincerely believed in a faith system that teaches God is holy and we must live up to impossible standards. The law is harsh and the pressure is oppressive.
The cross points to the harshness of the law. But Jesus willingly took the punishment to prove that God has opened a door of mercy and grace. Osama saw God as angry and that anger fueled a lot of destruction. Jesus proves that God's wrath can be assuaged by His death of atonement. God accepts Jesus's death and proved it by raising Him from the grave.
The shocking thing is that the blood on the cross was even good enough to cover the sins of Osama! But Osama apparently resisted and rebelled. He symbolically spit in the face of Jesus Christ by not acknowledging Him and refused to bow his knee to Him. But the offer of forgiveness was there up to the point of the bullet piercing his body.
Then Osama went to face the Creator and he will have to give an account of his life. According to the Bible, he is in big trouble (just start with Romans 1-7).
For us- the ones reading this post- your heart offers living proof that God's mercy is just a humble prayer away. But each beat is, like Longfellow wrote, a muffled drumbeat, a funeral march to the grave.
One uncovered and unforgiven sin is one too many to stand in front of the Holy God. Please turn to God now- don't delay!
Don't you see the signs? Earthquakes, natural disasters, war, rebellion, disease- as they are ever increasing in frequency is God's signal to be serious (Mark 13, Matthew 24, Luke 21). These are sober times- but in Christ there is a living hope!
All you have to do is reach out to Him right now... it is not words or ritual- it is just an honest response:
Lord, I can't run my life and I can't save myself. Please forgive my many mistakes- both in attitude and action. Right now, my heart is crying out to You! Help me! Save me! I don't understand it all- but Your word promises to save me by allowing the death of Jesus to be my sacrifice. Not only will you forgive me because of Jesus, you will adopt me as a royal son! How can that be? Take my life Lord- I am taking baby steps today- but I will never grow out of my need to be saved solely by You. Let it be so! AMEN
I am calling on every man woman or child- regardless of your religion- regardless of your intellect, morality, or status in life- to open your life to Jesus Christ- the risen and living God- whose name is above every name! The time to repent is NOW!