Thursday, February 8, 2018

Was Jesus crucified over fake news?

When Jesus began healing people, he urged those who were healed not to publicize what had happened. It appears that at the beginning of the Lord’s ministry years, He preferred to fly under the radar. He probably knew that when some people heard about what He was doing, they wouldn’t be happy about it.
Still, it’s not easy to keep authentic miracles under wraps. The word got around and Jesus began to draw crowds. When He healed a man’s withered hand on the Sabbath, Jesus crossed some sort of a line. “Then the Pharisees went out and immediately plotted with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him.” Mark 3:6
The Lord’s detractors started a rumor campaign. “And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, ‘He has Beelzebub,’ and, ‘By the ruler of the demons He casts out demons.’” Mark3:22
As the Lord’s following grew, so did the coalition of people who wanted to put an end to Him. In addition to the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Herodians who hated Jesus from the start, there were chief priests and elders of the temple who were annoyed over the Lord’s tirade about the den of thieves they were operating.
Some tried to trip Jesus up with trick questions. “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Cesar, or not?” they asked. Mark 12:14
Engaging in wordplay with the Lord is never a good idea. Jesus answered, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Mark 12:17
The rumor campaign hadn’t worked and the trick questions had all backfired. It took fake news and a kangaroo court to get anywhere against Jesus.
“Now the chief priests and all the council sought testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, but found none. For many bore false witness against Him, but their testimonies did not agree.” Mark 14: 55-57.
Jesus was prosecuted and crucified on the basis of fake news. However, the fake news didn’t stop when Jesus took His last breath. Even though guards were on duty by the tomb where he was placed, He disappeared. A cover story was quickly concocted.
“Now while they were going, behold, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened. When they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, saying, ‘Tell them His disciples came at night and stole Him away.’” Matthew 28:11-13
Some folks will say just about anything for money. That’s one of the reasons we have so much fake news today. The real news, for those who believe, is that Jesus did rise from the dead. He met up with His disciples and gave them a few final instructions.
“Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved.” Mark 16:15-16
Believing in Jesus and being forgiven for all one’s sins may seem like fake news, too good to be true. However, that’s exactly what happened for one of the criminals next to Jesus. The guy, who was not named in any of the Gospel accounts, knew that he deserved to be crucified. He also knew, somehow, that Jesus did not deserve to die and that the Lord was going to reign in a kingdom that was not of this world.
This criminal didn’t have long to live. Any pretensions of innocence were gone. He was a sinner, and he knew it. There was nothing he would ever be able to do to redeem himself, and he knew it. The Son of God - the way, the truth, and the life – was right next to him, and, somehow, he knew it. Jesus was his only hope, and he knew it.
He asked the Lord to remember him when He arrived in His kingdom. “And Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’” Luke 23:43
The Lord’s assurance may have sounded like fake news – much too good to be true. However, it was the truth. And Jesus is as ready to forgive someone and to receive him or her into His kingdom today as He was the day He and the criminals next to Him were nailed to their crosses.
One of those criminals made a good decision and the other did not. One met Jesus in Paradise, and the other did not. That’s not fake news. It is the truth.

Note: Bible verses quoted are from the New King James translation.

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