Disciples of Jesus
The apostles and first disciples of Jesus were eyewitnesses of the events surrounding Jesus' life, death, and resurrection. If anyone had firsthand knowledge that these events were untrue it would have be those closest to Jesus.
Just put yourself in the place of someone who followed a charismatic leader. A leader that held a crowd's attention with fascinating stories and wise sayings. A leader that criticized the current religious leaders for their hypocrisies. And a leader that seemed to heal people in ways that were unexplainable.
And, what would you do if later you found out that this leader was a fraud? What if you found out that he faked the healings and there was absolutely no verifiable evidence that anyone was actually healed? What if you found that he quoted others without giving them credit but claimed them as his own thoughts?
Would you still contribute to his "ministry"? Would you still recommend him to your friends?
You would probably stop supporting him immediately. You'd probably tell everyone you knew that this fraud was bilking the public of their money. No, you wouldn't speak kindly of him at all.
Now think about this. If Jesus were a fraud, we would hardly expect his followers to dedicate their lives to furthering his message.
In fact, nearly all of Jesus' followers abandoned him after he was captured by the mob at Gethsemane. Peter followed the mob to see what was going to happen. But, when Peter was identified as a follower of Jesus he denied it and fled the scene.
The average person's picture of a Messiah was that of a political leader that would start a revolution to overthrow the Roman government and re-establish the Kingdom of Israel. This was the expectation of the people. The people expressed this from the time of:
It was only after the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples at Pentecost that they realized that the "kingdom" Jesus brought was not a physical kingdom but a spiritual one. The kingdom they were establishing was a spiritual kingdom in opposition to the spiritual kingdom of Satan.
In his first message at the beginning of the church, Peter declared that Jesus had been raised up to sit on a throne at the right hand of God and was now their Lord (Acts 2:29-36).
Despite their initial misunderstanding, all of his apostles and many disciples dedicated their lives to the proclamation of the good news regarding Jesus. And many paid for proclaiming that sometimes unpopular message by giving their lives as martyrs.
Stores of how the disciples and apostles lived and died come down to use from various sources. Most of the writings we have come from those who lived several hundred years after Jesus. Some of these writers were:
The traditions passed on to us show the apostles taking the good news to far distant people. The apostles willingly traveled and withstood persecution to the point of death to deliver that message.
The best descriptions of the Apostles and their journeys and how they were martyred is found in Fox.s Book of Martyrs, Bee Edition, published by Butler Brothers (no date, probably around 1887).
And not only the apostles died. But, thousands of others died because of their beliefs. In Roman times Christians were crucified, given over to the lions, beheaded, and burned alive on stakes. Yet, they held on to their beliefs right to their deaths.
In more modern times, thousands of Christians died at the hands of the Roman Catholic Church during the cruelties of the inquisition. More thousands have died during prosecutions in countries controlled by other religious or philosophical systems. Yet, in spite of this, they held on to their beliefs with hope for their salvation.
The message of Jesus is one of salvation. Those who believe that message are happy to let others hear of God's love for them.
Because this message is one of love rather than hate, you should consider it as a guide for your life.
I welcome your comments:
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