You probably know what I'm talking about. The leading news magazines usually have a feature article on Jesus. They quote all the most radical Protestant and Catholic Scholars, especially those from the very liberal Jesus Project. Seldom, if ever, do you see a conservative or Evangelical scholar quoted or referenced. I supposed in some twisted way, they want to plug into the Easter spirit by casting doubt on the whole Jesus story.
This year, we get to put into this cynical brew the release of The Da Vinci Code movie, more speculation on the history of the Jesus story by Michael Baigent, and the "lost" Gospel of Judas. All of these are going to be highly advertised and pushed throughout the media. None of them deals with anything new, unknown, or lost. Most conservative scholars have long held that Mary Magdalene was never called a prostitute and was a loyal and close follower of Jesus. Many of these other documents cited by "The Code" have been known, studied, and easily identified as fanciful and false gospels for several hundred years — the Gospel of Judas is but one example. Baigent's claims that Jesus never died are as old as Jesus' resurrection and addressed by Matthew 28.
So why are we being hounded by all of this right now? Simple, marketing forces want to take advantage of this toxic brew in vogue right now and make money off the whole phenomenon. Brown and Baigent, along with their publishers and related media venues, are going to make boatloads of money. Their ongoing lawsuit reveals more about the real motives than anything. Of course, there are also those who are in it for the opportunity to bash the Jesus story and Jesus' followers today, not a small bias of some in the mainstream media.
What should we do about this?
First, go back and re-read the Gospels in the Bible and re-acquaint yourself with the true Jesus story. Then read the book of Acts. Then ask yourself a couple of simple questions.
- Why would a bunch of scared peasants from Galilee change from hiding cowards at Jesus' crucifixion to bold witnesses to Jesus' resurrection in seven weeks if nothing happened? (Remember, most of these guys died for their testimony and faith that Jesus was raised from the dead!)
- How did a handful of nobodies in an out of the way place like Galilee bring about a change that revolutionized Roman government and changed world history? (Remember, no multi-national media, no Internet, no fast transportation resources, and very little money accomplished what no army could do!)
Second, remember how publicity and many in the media industry work. They build critical mass around several key things happening at once and market to the awareness of the moment. These things are coming together to create a marketing opportunity for those making audacious claims so they can make a bunch of money and that then has become an event of interest to those in the media industry.
Fourth, remember the whole Cross of Jesus was about people trying to get some tangible benefit out of getting rid of Jesus. If they did it in the Lord's own time, we shouldn't be surprised that they are trying to do it now. We would be foolish to think there isn't the power of the evil one behind this, as well.
Fifth, put the whole load of claims to the idiot test. You have to be a willful idiot to believe this enormous stack of hidden things that thousands upon thousands of people kept secret over thousands of years. Brown's assumption — or as Baigent claims to be his own theories — depends on this unbelievable veil of secrecy to be even remotely possible. The reality is that secrets get out when told in the smallest of circles without much at stake. For this many secrets, held by this many people, for this long to be true is simply unbelievable. As many historians have pointed out, such a theory is far from plausible.
Sixth, on this coming Sunday, fall to your knees and give thanks that God chose to enter our world in Jesus, suffer it's worst indignities in a humiliating death, and then rose from the grave on the Sunday after Passover many years ago. Because of this, our lives are not lived in vain and we've been given the greatest gift of all — victory in life!
How we thank God, who gives us victory over sin and death through Jesus Christ our Lord! So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and steady, always enthusiastic about the Lord's work, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless. (1 Corinthians 15:57-58 NLT)