Tag Archive | Jesus Christ

The Thief’s Story

It came to him unbidden, his father’s memory. Here, in his slow execution, it wasn’t his crimes that haunted Ishmael but Abba’s unwavering faith during his severed life. Stoned to death on false accusations, Abba had been innocent, a pawn in games of power.

As was the man dying excruciatingly beside him. Ishmael knew it as surely as he knew of his own guilt — the teacher was blameless. He could also be something more, someone Abba would have recognized. His corrupted heart, humbled at last, could not reject it. Offering what faith he had, he pleaded, “Remember me in Paradise.”

(This is a response to the 100 words challenge in Velvet Verbosity. The word for the week was “unbidden”. I chose this subject because I’ve always wondered about that thief who acknowledged Jesus as he was crucified. What sort of man was he, that he recognized the Messiah in that horrible moment of death when others, even his fellow condemned criminal, did not? This story is just my way of making up an answer to that question. I thought it would be as good a reason to write as any. :-))

 

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Day 6 — A Stranger

Never let another steal your magnificence. ~ Alison Stormwolf


Hey, stranger.

Yes, you. The one reading this right now. I don’t know who you are, but I do know something about you that’s true whether you can believe it or not:

You are important. You matter. You may have heard the opposite all your life, heard that you are worthless, weak, ugly, stupid, a waste of space, an embarrassment. That nothing you do is right and that you will never amount to anything. All of those things aren’t true. This is true: You are not a mistake. Do you believe that?

Whether you have faith in him or not, it was God who planned you. You are his pride, his masterpiece. He delights in who you are! Oh, if you can, even for one moment,  just see exactly how captivating you are in his eyes. You will never again believe that you are ordinary. Inside  you, there is something unique and precious that he placed, and only he can reveal, if you’d let him. He longs for you to let him. Will you?

It doesn’t matter that you messed up. It doesn’t matter that you failed, or that you’re shattered. If there’s anyone who can put you back together again, it’s him. He wants you whole. He wants you healed. He wants you hopeful. When was the last time you felt like that?

I know this isn’t always easy to believe. You might want to, but it just seems so out of sync with the reality of your life. I’ve been there. Even now, there are days when I find myself thinking there is no way anyone can look at me and find me beautiful.

But it isn’t true. There is beauty in us, in you and me both, and God wants to bring it out for all the world to see.

Only if we believe it. Only if we let him.

I hope you will.

Love,

Someone like you

You’ve won my heart

I’m here with you at last. I’m here, just standing still and letting you love me. And as the wind flows over the grass on the mountains and the hair on my shoulders, I hear you whisper:  “I know you.” And for once, it doesn’t terrify me to be known. Instead, there’s a surge of relief and intense joy, and though I am wet, muddy, and cold, I feel fresh, free, and alive. The soft rain on my skin feels like an embrace so tender it melts me, and it seems like the most romantic thing in the world to be up here on the hills, on this morning of wind and clouds, discovering how much you delight in me. I want to shout and to soar, to tell you that you are amazing and beautiful and glorious, and that you have captured my heart at last. The pursuit is over – I’m done with running away. I am yours.

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Jesus’ Supposed Tomb – Important Issues and Questions

Following is a list of issues and questions that I think are worth examining in regard to this recent controversy.

A. The names on the ossuaries were very common at that time.

1. Charlesworth of Princeton Theological Seminary says he has a first-century letter written by someone named Jesus, addressed to someone else named Jesus and witnessed by a third party named Jesus.  This demonstrates the commonality of the name Jesus.  Isn’t it likely that other names would be common as well?  Think about it.  The name “Mary” occurs in the gospels several times in reference to different women.  Also, If Christianity were on the rise in the culture, it makes sense that people would adopt Christian names as they eagerly moved away from the imposing Roman Empire’s rule. This would increase the name frequency.

2. ‘Jesus’ and ‘Joseph’ were common names of the time, and another ossuary bearing the same inscription [Jesus son of Joseph] was revealed by archaeologist Eleazar Levi Sukenik in a 1931 lecture in Berlin.  However, this ossuary is set apart by its presence in a tomb alongside others bearing names associated with Jesus’ family… The fact is that “Jesus son of Joseph” exists elsewhere in archaeological findings.

3. 25% of the Jewish women in the first-century Judea had the same name of Mary. Again, this is evidence of a very common name usage.

B. The ossuaries are inscribed in different languages:  Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek.

1. Jesus, James, Judah are inscribed in Aramaic.  Yose (Jose, Joseph), Maria, and Matthew are in Hebrew. “Marianmene e Mara” (Mary Magdelene) is the only one written in Greek.  If the tomb is of Jesus’ family, why are the inscriptions in different languages? Does this suggest that different individuals, perhaps in different times, and of different backgrounds were buried in the tomb?  Remember, families used the same tomb and ossuaries for generations. Therefore, we can expect to find the same tomb to have ossuaries with different inscriptions, in different languages, along with similar DNA since the same families would be using them.  See point E below.


C. The Inscription dates are from 1 B.C to 1 A.D.

1. Frank Moore Cross, a professor emeritus in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University, told Discovery News, “The inscriptions are from the Herodian Period (which occurred from around 1 B.C. to 1 A.D.). The use of limestone ossuaries and the varied script styles are characteristic of that time.

2. This is important because the gospel accounts record Jesus’ life up to 33 years of age.  If Jesus lived long enough to get married, have a child, etc., it would be after he was 33.  If Jesus died around 50 A.D. (just picking a date), then how do we account for Jesus’ bones being buried in an ossuary that has an inscription dated from about 1 B.C.?  Shouldn’t the inscription be dated to some time after, say 33 A.D.?A. This is solid evidence against the ossuaries being of Jesus family.

D. Families were buried in their home towns.

1. In this case it would have been Nazareth, not Jerusalem.   Jesus was known as Jesus of Nazareth.  If this really is the tomb of the biblical Jesus, then why is he buried somewhere other than his hometown, Nazareth?  This would have gone against Jewish culture and custom.

2. Also, shouldn’t the burial inscription have read “Jesus of Nazareth” or “Jesus of Nazareth, son of Joseph” if it were the Jesus of the New Testament?

3. There was a two day burial window under Jewish law.  This meant that a person had to be buried within two days of death.  Therefore, he might not be buried in his hometown.  However, after the body decomposed and only the bones were left, it would appropriate to move them.  Since ossuaries contained only bones, why is it located in Jerusalem and not Nazareth?

E. The same ossuaries were used for generations to store bones

1. Point B is supported by the fact the same ossuaries were used for several generations to house bones, sometimes containing as many as six sets.  This would mean that the contents therein could be of family members long after the time of Christ.  It could even be of non genetically related individuals, by marriage, who get added to the tomb later on – which might explain why the inscriptions are in different languages.

2. Having similar genetics in the ossuaries doesn’t prove it is Jesus’ tomb.  It only proves there are similar genetics.  There is no known way to establish that the genetics in the ossuaries are those of Jesus.  At best, it can only be inferred and inferences are not fact.

F. The family of Jesus was poor.  Joseph was a carpenter and couldn’t afford such an elaborate burial.

1. To have a tomb and various ossuaries made was an expensive undertaking.  Since Joseph was a carpenter, Jesus would’ve learned his trade from his father.  Carpenters were not rich.  Therefore, how is the existence of an expensive tomb with ossuaries explained in light of this information if it is supposed to be at the family of Jesus?  This does not support the idea that it was Jesus’ tomb.  In fact, it speaks against it.

G. What of the existing documents (gospels)?

1. The gospels in the New Testament are excellently preserved historical documents that are consistent with the time, place, and culture in which they claim to describe.  If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then what about the gospels accounts?  Are they fakes, compilations, lies, forgeries, or legitimate and accurate historical documents

2. Are these eyewitness accounts contained in the gospels less valuable than names on ossuaries found in a tomb?  Surely, an explanation needs to be established to account for the claims of the gospel accounts if in fact they were lies or fabrications.


H. If the gospels are used to verify the names on the ossuaries, why are they not also used to verify that Jesus rose from the dead?

1. There seems to be an inconsistency in using the Gospels to verify the names on the ossuaries but then deny the claim of those same Gospels concerning Jesus’ resurrection.  Why accept the names but reject the resurrection when both are described in the same documents?  Is it because the presuppositions of those who examine the evidence do not allow for the miraculous?  If that is the case, then beliefs are forced upon evidence and the evidence is interpreted in light of those beliefs.


I. The Acts of Phillip

1. In the book The Acts of Phillip is the term “Mariamene” which some scholars think it refers to Mary Magdelene.  Therefore, the inscription in the tomb which uses that term has been linked to the biblical Mary Magdelene via this old document. However, the oldest copy of the Acts of Phillip is from the fourteenth century and is a copy of a fourth century text.  How reliable is the document known as the Acts of Phillip?  The text is generally considered to have been a late 4th or early 5th century fantasy, involving miracles and supposedly clever dialogue, which it claims caused Phillip to win many converts. So, is a phrase in a fantasy-based document evidence that Jesus married Mary Magdelene?

J. Why aren’t there any accounts of Jesus having a family recorded in any reputable ancient writings?

1. This is, essentially, an argument of silence and is not the best argument.  Nevertheless, there is no credible historical evidence suggesting that Jesus had a family.  If Jesus were that important of a figure and if he had a family, in contradiction to the gospel accounts, then why are there no reliable records of this recorded anywhere?

2. If Jesus had a son, and a wife, and was walking around Israel, it would have been around the time that the gospels were being circulated which were initially written anywhere from the 40’s to the 60’s, with John possibly written later.  You’d think that the Jews and Romans would have countered the circulating gospels by simply saying, “Hey, Jesus lives with his wife and son over in Jerusalem.”

3. Also, after the gospels had been circulating and Jesus’ son was alive and well (as the ossuary evidence has been interpreted to support), certainly someone (Jewish and/or Roman) would have documented that Jesus indeed had a son in contradiction to the widening distribution of the gospel records. After all, both the Jews and the Romans had reasons to not want Christianity to flourish.  So, why are there no such accounts of Jesus’ son in existence?


K. Why didn’t the critics of Christianity produce Jesus’ body?

1. This is similar to point J.  Since the Jewish culture as well as the Roman authorities did not want Jesus’ resurrection to be believed, since it contradicted both of their theological and social power structures, and if Jesus did get married and have children, then why is their no record of those authorities producing the person and/or body of Jesus? You’d think this would have been settled long ago if Jesus really did live and breathe after the gospels’ recorded resurrection and Acts account of his ascension.


L. Statistical analysis of the names

1. How do they know which names were and were not common in those days?  Isn’t this a relevant question to ask when making statistical analysis?  Joseph, Jesus, and Mary were very common names at the time.  As Christianity grew, it would make sense that people would take the names of Jesus, Mary, Joseph, etc., as a sign of respect for and identification with their Christian beliefs.

2. Statistics can be manipulated.  We’re not suggesting that these statistics were, but there needs to be an explanation dealing with how common the names were in the culture at that time and the criteria needs to be examined.

3. Even if the statistical analysis shows the coincidence to be improbable, it still does not demonstrate that Jesus was in the ossuary.  After all there are too many other questions and problems that counter that conclusion.

M. Counter evidence

1. Archaeologist says it isn’t Jesus’ tomb.  In 1996, when the BBC aired a short documentary on the same subject, archaeologists challenged the claims. Amos Kloner, the first archaeologist to examine the site, said the idea [of the tomb being that of Jesus] fails to hold up by archaeological standards but makes for profitable television….It was an ordinary middle-class Jerusalem burial cave…The names on the caskets are the most common names found among Jews at the time…The cave, it [Kloner’s report] said, was probably in use by three or four generations of Jews from the beginning of the Common Era. It was disturbed in antiquity, and vandalized. The names on the boxes were common in the first century (25 percent of women in Jerusalem, for example, were called Miriam or a derivative).

2. Incorrect reading of names?  Pfann [a biblical scholar at the University of the Holy Land in Jerusalem] is even unsure that the name “Jesus” on the caskets was read correctly. He thinks it’s more likely the name ‘Hanun.’

3. Alternate burial site locations.  James Tabor, a Biblical scholar at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and the leading academic voice who lends enthusiastic, if qualified, support to Jacobovici’s claims, wrote that he looked for, and found, a legendary tomb of Jesus near the city of
Safed.

Before we make any emotional, knee-jerk reaction regarding this issue, let us first examine both sides. The complete version of the article which I used as my source can be found here.

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Praise You in This Storm

by Casting Crowns

I was sure by now, God,
You would have reached down and wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say “Amen”, and it’s still raining…

And as the thunder rolls,
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain
“I’m with you…”
And as Your mercy falls,
I’ll raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

And I’ll praise you in this storm and I’ll lift my hands
For You are who You are, no matter where I am
Every tear I’ve cried, You hold in Your hand
You never left my side, and though my heart is torn
I’ll praise You in this storm

I remember when I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry to You and raised me up again
My strength is almost gone, how can I carry on
If I can’t find You..?

I lift my eyes unto the hills, where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
I lift my eyes unto the hills, where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

And though my heart is torn, I’ll praise You in this storm….

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Cry of My Heart

I can feel you pursuing me, I can feel the persistence of your love. A thousand times I’ve turned away from you, I’ve let you down, I’ve broken more promises than I care to count. And yet here you are, whispering, calling me to return to your embrace. Why me? Why, when you can see behind my masks and know all my secrets, would you still choose me? You are blameless, you are pure, and I bear the guilt and the dirt of the many times I’ve stumbled. Yet you look at me…you look at me as if I am more precious, more beautiful to you than I can ever imagine. You see me through the eyes of tenderness, through the eyes of breathtaking, extravagant grace. Your love is costly, but you did not hesitate to pay the price.

How many times have I broken your heart? How many times have I tried again, only to fail? And yet here you are again, holding out another chance, and I am torn. I want to believe that I can make it this time, that I will no longer be unfaithful. But the memories of the many ways I’ve hurt you hang in my mind, and I am afraid.

Can we really hope again, you and I? I want to belong to you once more, completely, like I once did when I first fell in love with you. I want you to teach me the art of losing myself in your love, surrendering with no inhibitions or pride, only trust. Do not give up on me yet, do not let go. Take me again, take my fear, take my shame. I know only you can release me. Take the broken pieces of my heart and heal these wounds. Make me whole, make me pure, make me free — so that you can finally, truly, call me Yours.

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Garnet

She is silent, and it is not the kind of silence I am used to from her. It is a weary silence…as if she were too broken and too exhausted to try to express whatever is haunting her.

She wants to give up, but to her, giving up has never been easy. She has held on for the longest time – dreaming big dreams and caring with all her heart and giving everything she had. It is not easy to let go of that now. But she is disillusioned, and she is hurting too much. If only, if only, if only…. But the wounds are already too deep, and she cannot pretend any longer.

I am not used to seeing her like this. Nobody is. She smiled so freely and laughed too easily for me to ever imagine her this way. But I look at her now and realize that maybe, just maybe, I have never really seen her before.

I want to ask her to hold on just a little bit longer. I want to tell her to talk to me, let me take some of the pain. And most of all, I want to urge her to try again, just one more time. But how can I ask that of her? How can I tell her to dream again, when she had given her soul to this one dream, and it had broken her heart so badly? How can I convince her that I believed in her, when she had already stopped believing in herself? The look in her eyes seems too distant for me to reach….

And yet I must try. She may not know it, but I feel that if she surrenders now, it will change her forever. If she stops dreaming, she may never allow herself dreams as big and beautiful as this one again. If she gives up, it will be a betrayal of the very essence that makes her who she is. Letting go will hurt her as much as holding on.

She needs to believe again. Just one more time, just one more try. Just one more dream. Maybe this time, she’ll find herself not being alone.


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