Jesus: the cruellest hoax ever invented?
Recently I (with my family) interred the ashes of my mum. It was an emotional time. There were tears as we buried the ashes which belonged to my mum’s body, which only months ago I was speaking with.
Mum’s sudden death last year has really led me to wonder and question a number of things about reality and about the ‘truth’ of the Christian claims.
It has made me wonder deeply about the resurrection of the dead – how can those ashes we buried be reanimated?
It has made me wonder about where my mum is now – does she just cease to be (as an atheist view would have) or is her ‘spirit’/’soul’ somewhere else?
What real hope is there after death?
The whole experience has made me think deeply about life, death and reality. It has also caused my ‘soul’ some unrest.
In the little service of internment we held we used some liturgy from the Uniting Church. It included these words,
“As we gather in faith, we remember that although our bodies return to dust, we shall be raised with Christ in glory. Let us rejoice in this promise as we hear the word of Scripture.”
We then heard some words from Scripture, John 11:25 where Jesus says,
“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die”
Wouldn’t this be great if this were true? That anyone who believes in Jesus will live!
I really would love this to be true. I would love that death is not the end, that all the good things we enjoy about this world, relationships, love, fun, pleasure, that these will not be ended by death. It would be wonderful if Jesus’ words here were true. And I also think that we should want Jesus’ words to be true. I’m intrigued by the reasons why atheists don’t want this to be true. I recognise that some atheists are petrified of death and our mortality, but many aren’t and say that they don’t want to live forever. I personally find this puzzling and I’d be interested to hear reasons why people want to be mortal (and also how this doesn’t devalue life now).
(I also want to clarify that I am a Christian not simply because I want this to be true, but because I think there are good reasons to believe it really is true – but that is for another post. Although, as I mentioned above, my recent experience has prompted me to question and think about this)
So I think the promise and hope offered by Jesus here is very appealing. Indeed, at the internment service I heard these words and the hope contained in them and found them very comforting: the prospect that my mum lives on in Jesus and also offers hope for people us still alive soothes my ‘soul’.
Although, something struck me as I reflected on Jesus words. If the words and the promise contained in them were false – then it would have to be one of the cruellest hoaxes ever invented. It would make Jesus (or the person who invented him or wrote his script) the greatest hoaxer and possibly most cruel person to have ever lived. To offer hope when there really was none. to offer the prospect of life, when there was none is appallingly misleading, heartless and cruel.
If there really was no hope beyond the grave, if atheism is true and Jesus was wrong or embellished or made up – I would far prefer someone to be clear and honest and say that there was no hope rather than to offer a vain, false hope.
Hence this thinking prompted my reflections on Jesus in this post – if it not be true, how dare he say such things. How dare he provide such unkind hope when there was none. How dare someone claim to ‘be the resurrection and the life’ and to stand up honestly before strangers to try to convince them that ‘the one who believes in me will live, even though they die’ knowing that it was false. Someone penned these words. Someone put these words on the lips of Jesus – if this person knew it were a lie, I would prefer the words never uttered. I would prefer them say, ‘I would like there to be a resurrection and life, but we stay dead, even though we die’.
So what would motivate a person to such awful deception and hypocrisy (particularly when the same author says that Jesus is the way, truth and life)? Why would someone want to offer hope and claim to be the resurrection and the life when they patently weren’t? What would motivate someone to be such a terrible deceiver?
I’m not sure.
But there is an alternative which seems impossible. The alternative was that Jesus was really speaking the truth.
And that would be so overwhelmingly wonderful wouldn’t it?