Jesus - False Prophet
And Peter said to John, "Hey John, we've had a tough couple of days, but we need to move on now. Listen. I have an idea. You've always been ambitious, and you know I am. I know the timing isn't the best, but we don't have any time to lose. Let's make some use of what's just happened. Let's start a new religion!"
John replied, "What are you talking about, Peter? I'm still in shock here, and you're talking fantasy! Besides, aren't you busy enough with your fishing? You have a family to support and I need to take care of Mary. We need to get back to work."
Peter insisted, "No, no. Wait. I've been thinking about this. Jesus is dead, that's true, and it's awful. But that doesn't mean his ideas have to die with him. Everybody heard him say he was going to die and be raised again in three days. We can go steal his body from the tomb, take it out of Jerusalem, and bury him where nobody would ever find him. We can overcome the guards. They're a bunch of wimps, and they'll be way too embarrassed to say a bunch of fishermen overtook them, so they'll just lie and say they fell asleep or something. We'll take his body, then when the women go to anoint his body on Sunday, they'll find him gone, and word will get out that he's "risen." We can fan that flame, and a whole new religion will take off - and we'll be in charge! After all, we were his closest friends, so nobody would ever argue with our leadership. What'd ya think?"
John pondered Peter's idea. "Well, there was a time when he was pretty popular. He had a lot of followers, and they thought his ideas were pretty good. Actually, it might work."
Peter smiled, and John reflected. "But what about that commandment about loving and worshipping only God? If our new religion is going to be based on Jesus' teachings, won't we have to worship him or something? We'll have to make him out to be the real Son of God, right? We both know he wasn't, because, well, the real Son of God wouldn't have died, but won't we have to say that he was?"
Peter, getting more excited, said "Well, of course. The people will need to be convinced that he really WAS the Son of God. As a matter of fact, let's up the ante some. Let's say that he was actually God himself! God incarnate! Wow, that's fabulous! The people will eat it up!"
John was getting frightened. "Are you out of your mind?! That's blasphemy! If we say that, we'll burn in hell! This is nothing to play around with, Simon. And not only that, but everyone we were able to convince would burn in hell, too! You and I would be personally responsible for all of those lost souls! God would have a special place in hell just for us! Besides, who would ever follow a leader that said 'Love your enemies,' or 'Turn the other cheek,' or even 'If they steal your coat, give them your cloak, too?' That stuff's nuts. Nobody would fall in line with that! And the whole concept of salvation by grace. Who would ever buy that? People have been raised from the beginning of time believing that you have to earn what you get. Why would they ever follow a leader who said that all of the old rules have gone by the wayside now, and we have a whole new set of rules? Salvation by grace - crazy." John shook his head.
Peter lowers his voice. He speaks slowly and deliberately. "John," he said. "Listen to me. The people need something to hold on to. The Romans aren't letting up, and as much as we hoped Jesus was going to be our savior from them, he wasn't. He turned out to be a fraud. We need to accept that, but we don't need to throw the entire three and a half years away! Why make the people pay for his lies? They need encouragement. They need to feel like there's hope. We have the power to make that hope real for them."
John thought to himself. Worship a false prophet. Or worse, a false God. An idol in every sense of the word.
"I don't know." John said finally. "Are you really ready to give up the true faith in God that you were raised in? The one that was the source of your hope for your entire life? The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? You know the history of our people. We have a long history of following false gods, Baal and such. You want to create another false god? Another idol-worshipping people of God? That's what it will be, you know. Just idol-worship."
Peter looked at him intently. "You in or not?"
John sighed. "Well, I can't have you running off doing this by yourself. I guess I'm in. We'll need help, though. We'll have to convince the other nine, and tomorrow's Sunday, so we'll have to do it quickly. If he's going to 'raise from the dead,' it has to be tomorrow, so we'll have to steal the body tonight. But I guess that's doable. But this is the important part. We'll have to all swear that we'll never, ever tell the truth no matter what. If even one of us buckles under the pressure, the whole thing will crumble around us. And it could get pretty sticky. The Romans have a reputation for crucifying their enemies and doing all sorts of horrible things to them. And they're going to consider us their enemies. You've thought of that?"
"Look John. The people need it, and we'll be world-class leaders. It's a little risky, sure. But isn't it worth it in the end?"
"I guess so." John replied.
Pretty ridiculous? Is your skin crawling? If you have any doubt that Jesus was exactly who He said He was, then you give the above scenario real credibility.
Jesus was Who He said He was. He was the Son of God. He IS the Son of God. He is God. How else do you explain Christianity itself? How else do you explain that twelve men, and a whole lot more in those days, gave their lives to Him? They not only gave their occupational and family lives, but they gave their physical lives in horrifying ways, one by one over a period of many years as those remaining watched, imagining their own horrific demise. To believe that Jesus is still dead, then you have to believe that twelve men gave their lives to a cause they knew was a lie, condemning themselves to a life of torture and poverty, and to an eternity in hell for their trouble. Plenty of people throughout the history of the world have died for a cause - for a leader they believed in. You could explain all of the Christian martyrs that way from the second century on. But none of them died for a cause they knew was a lie. We'll die for a belief, but not if we know it's a lie.
If it had been a lie, they'd have all known it. And nobody - not one of the twelve, in spite of eleven horrible, vicious deaths - changed their story. Think about that.