Full disclosure: Sometimes, reporting the news terrifies me and makes me despair for my country. When I saw that Coca Cola, Delta, and Major League Baseball repeated the Left’s false smears against the Georgia election integrity law, I couldn’t believe it. Now, the MLB has pulled the all-star game out of Atlanta — all because of Democrats’ misinformation. Worse, Democrats, the legacy media, and corporate America are pushing all sorts of nonsense, from the idea that carbon emissions will destroy the world in a few years to the idea that an internal sense of gender overrides biological sex (consequences be damned) to the claim that Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream placing character over skin color is itself racist.
Yet in all of this, we come to Holy Week, the week when Western Christians remember Jesus’s Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, His Last Supper, His Crucifixion, and His glorious Resurrection (Our Eastern Orthodox brothers and sisters will celebrate this next week).
Jesus’ Passion sets things in perspective. The Left may demonize us conservatives and falsely accuse us of hate and racism, but those who condemned Jesus to death accused God Himself of blasphemy. They set up show trials, using the threat of an uprising to pressure Pontius Pilate to sentence Jesus to the most torturous death the Romans invented — a shameful and literally excruciating execution.
While Christmas may be the most joyous celebration in America, Holy Week is the root and kernel of Christianity. The truth of the gospel stands or falls on the claim that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead.
As Mark Tapscott noted here at PJ Media, Jesus could not have survived the events of Good Friday. The scourging, the walk to Golgotha, and the hours upon the cross killed Him — and the Roman centurion’s spear pierced his pericardium, releasing the telltale pericardial fluid that proved Jesus had died of asphyxiation.
Jesus suffered even more spiritually. When He cried out “Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani,” Jesus was saying to His Father — one whose essence and presence He had shared from eternity past — “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” God didn’t just die on the cross at Golgotha — the Trinity itself, the three-in-one Godhead, was split in half in ways we humans cannot comprehend. The Son took on the stain of sin from the whole world and the Father unleashed His terrible judgment upon Him.
Jesus’ death appeared to be the end of the story. Peter, who had vowed to die with Jesus mere hours before, denied Him three times. Jesus told Mary His mother to take care of John in his stead, essentially giving Mary a replacement son. Jesus, the man whom many Jews believed to be the Messiah who would save them from the oppression of the Romans, had met an ignominious end, executed with two common criminals.
Yet the story did not end there. The very disciples who had rejected Jesus suddenly started preaching good news — and standing by their story to the point of execution. The fact of Christianity’s existence makes no sense without the Resurrection. Why would the disciples — rather common men who do not appear as paragons of moral virtue in the Gospels — go to their deaths defending Jesus if they had not seen Him resurrected, as they said?
If the disciples had been clever men, they could have devised a story to trick followers, but they would not have died excruciating deaths for a fable. If they had portrayed themselves as magnificent moral leaders, it might have made their Gospel narratives seem exaggerated or false. Yet the Gospels are not flattering to the disciples, which makes them that much more convincing.
While the earliest copies of the New Testament do not appear to have survived, fragments dating to the early second century (100s A.D.) have survived. According to key textual clues, the Gospels date to the first few decades after Jesus’ Resurrection. Since the Gospels recount that Jesus prophesied the destruction of the Second Temple (which took place in 70 A.D.) but they do not tout the fact that this destruction actually took place, it is safe to assume the texts dated from before 70 A.D.
The New Testament is an extremely reliable account of history, by ancient standards. Through His death, Resurrection, and teaching, Jesus introduced a new approach on God and love that has flipped the world upside down in ways that most of us take for granted. Sociology professor Rodney Stark has argued that Christianity has been the driving force behind limited government, science, capitalism, the abolition of slavery, medicine, organized charities, and more.
None of this is to say that Christians are perfect, but Christianity truly has changed the world in ways that best make sense from the perspective that God really did intervene in the human story in the life of Jesus.
Whatever is happening in America or in the world today, Christians should take heart and approach the world with confidence — not in ourselves, but in the God who redeemed us.
Our ultimate hope does not rest on politics, on conservatism, or on America, although those are all good things. Our ultimate hope rests on the One who makes weak disciples into strong Gospel writers, the One who flipped the world on its head, the One who willingly laid down His life and then picked it back up again.
I don’t know if America will survive the turbulent times ahead. I hope something amazing will happen and things will start falling into place, but my ultimate hope isn’t in this or any other country. Holy Week is a great reminder of where my hope truly lies, and it should be a tremendous comfort to all of us.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.