The recent airing of the documentary The Lost Tomb of Jesus has created quite a stir. The show, which aired on the Discovery Channel drew over 4 million viewers, and the book based on the program, Jesus Family Tomb, skyrocketed to sixth on the New York Times Bestseller List. This documentary asserts that an ossuary (a cave containing the burial boxes of several people) found in Jerusalem in 1980 contained the remains of Jesus and his family, including Mary Magdelene and a son named Judah. If true, these findings would be a significant blow to the Christian faith.
I’ve done some reading about this program, and the facts seem to indicate that most of the conclusions drawn in the program and book are based on some faulty reasoning, science, and logic. It is almost as if they wanted to disprove the resurrection and then found a way to spread doubt, somewhat disregarding the facts. I don’t intend to use this blog to create arguments against the documentary. To be honest, even secular scholars do not find the material in this documentary to be credible. Realize that the tomb was found in 1980, 27 years ago, and archaeologists have rejected the notion that the tomb was Jesus’ or anyone else in the Bible.
In the first century, the church already had challengers questioning the authenticity of Jesus and the reality of the resurrection. The apostle John specifically addresses these struggles in 1 John 2. For two thousand years, countless people have sought to redefine Jesus as nothing more than a good man who lived a short life on this planet. In a real sense, they have been seeking for his grave ever since. This type of Jesus doesn’t threaten. He is an example, someone to look up to, a hero. But God in the flesh? A Savior who died on a cross, and rose again three days later?
Here are a few encouragements. First, don’t freak out when a new “proof” that Jesus isn’t really who we thought he was arises. In the last few months, we have seen several books and resources making outlandish claims about Jesus (remember the DaVinci Code). While we feel that these attacks at our faith are new, they aren’t. There is nothing new under the sun, and the same basic claims have been made throughout the 20 centuries of Christian history by those who do not want Jesus to be their God. Still, nobody has really produced the body of Jesus or discounted the mounds of evidence for the resurrection. God is still God, and Jesus reigns as the risen Savior. Our knee jerk reaction is to panic and get nervous, or to fight back. Relax and trust God.
I also want to encourage you to find ways to enter the conversation. People are talking about Jesus, but they are getting their information from people who do not know Him. We do. Spend a little time doing some research in order to be informed on the issues, and get involved in the discussion. If we would be as zealous for discovering truth as these people are to discredit Jesus, the impact would be incredible. Never forget that the truth is on your side.
If you have doubts, let me point you to two resources. The first is a website, equip.org. You can find articles, books, other resources, and even a radio program online dealing with these issues. The second resource is the book The Case for a Christ by Lee Strobel. Strobel conducts a series of interviews with historical and scientific scholars, creating a sort of legal case for the existence of Christ and the reality of His resurrection.