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Questions Your Pastor Will Dislike Part Four

Message Dennis Diehl

A Few Questions About the Actual Crucifixion Pastor. Thank you so much for your patience with me.

Question. Pastor...Just who was it that carried Jesus Cross? Mark 15:21, Matthew 27:32 and Luke 23:36 all say that someone named Simon of Cyrene helped him with it, but John seems to not know this part and says in John 19:17 that Jesus carried it the whole way himself. I know one can say that they each did a part of it and John is just going for the big picture, but John often seems to no know the details the others did and does imply Jesus was alone in this. Seems important to me.

Question. Pastor...these two thieves have always puzzled me. Mark, being the first Gospel and most simple, mentions them but tells nothing of them at all. (Mark 15:27) But then Matthew makes the story more interesting and in Matthew 27:44 has them taunt Jesus to save them all and at least himself. Then the story gets even better in Luke 23:39 by having the one tell the other one to leave Jesus alone and they deserve to die but not Jesus. With this, Jesus promises him that he would be with him in Paradise that day. Or perhaps, he meant he told him that day he would eventually be with him in Paradise, but it sounds like Jesus meant that very day. This story keeps getting better in the order of the writing. Since Jesus didn't ascend for 40 days, where was Jesus telling this man he and Jesus would go together and when? John and Luke don't have this detail and John doesn't even call them thieves. Some say rebels against Rome and run away slaves were crucified, but not thieves as we know them. And Jesus was labeled on the sign, King of the Jews, which seems to be why Rome and not the Jews crucified him....the Bar-Abbas thing remember? At any rate, it always seems like there is an outwardly bad person, like the thief or the Roman Centurian admitting that Jesus is the Son of God and seems contrived. You know, kinda like props in a play.

Question. Pastor...Wow, this is good one for you. In Matthew 27:51-53 we see Jesus dies on the cross and there is a great earthquake. If it was this big, how did the city and the temple survive intact as it said the “rocks split.” That's a big quake! The curtain of the Temple tore from top to bottom as well. I would think if a curtain could tear that would mean the walls holding it up separated, but the temple seemed fine. Besides, no one else seems to notice this event in the the other Gospels or in history.

Question. Pastor....What about these “saints” who rise from the dead and witnessed around Jerusalem? Again, it is only Matthew that mentions this and this seems like a rather huge event! Why were they called Saints, which is more of what Christians are called much later in the history of the Church? They might have been followers, but Saints sounds like it was written long after the real events. Maybe even longer than just a few years. The graves were opened for three days until “after his resurrection,” as it says because I know we can't have the saints rising before Jesus, so were they just laying in the holes for three days alive but couldn't move? Or if they were just bones and not fresh bodies, didn't anyone notice the open holes all over the place and think to fill them in?

And wouldn't raised people make a great story about Jesus power all through the New Testament, but it is never mentioned again? And would not raised saints be honored and revered in the early Church and get important positions we never hear about? Or did they die quickly a second time. That would be a bummer I would think after seeing family and friends again. Is this a real story or did only Matthew make it up?

Question. Pastor...I am wondering how Jesus is called the “Suffering Servant” of Isaiah 53 when he really got off pretty easy being on the cross for just a few hours of one day, getting a nice removal by a rich friend and all prepared and buried in new tomb? Crucifixion is a process of days and tens of thousands died terribly by it before Jesus did. They stayed on the cross until they suffocated and then were left for the birds and dogs to eat. Burial was not much of an option or very rare. Jesus seems to get the best treatment in the history of crucificxion, not the worst. Then he is dispatched with a spear thrust, which again, was merciful, not terrible considering how long it could have taken to die.

Question. long as we are at it. How is it such a big sacrifice for Jesus to die if he knows that in a short time he is God again? And how is Jesus death such a sacrifice on God's part knowing that in a very short time He gets his son Jesus back? I have buried a lot of children that are still dead and the parents would not grieve so much if they knew they'd see them again in a mere three days after death. It seems like going through the motions if Jesus and God knew all this, but not a real sacrifice. Doesn't a real sacrifice stay dead? Now that's real to me if Jesus stayed dead and did not get to be back with God, for us. Now that would be amazing, but he's just dead for a short time and then back in business. Maybe it's me.

Question. Pastor...This three days and three nights in the tomb thing has always puzzled me. I thought I had it down pat with Jesus being crucified on a Wednesday and Resurrected on Sunday morning leaving time for the three days and three nights, you know 72 hours. But that still doesn't work well as it was a Passover thing and not an Easter weekend thing. No matter how you cut it, there are no three days and three nights between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning, no matter if we just do parts. Mark 10:34 says it would be “after” three days, so that includes them all. Matthew 12:40 says it will be the full three days and three nights, but no account ever gets him there for anywhere near that time. What gives? I like the Wednesday idea with Passover being on a Thursday that week, or First of Unleavened Bread for the Jews, but then even that is debatable.

Mark, Matthew and Luke call the meal a Passover, but John says the supper happened before Passover, and doesn't have any references to bread and wine (John 13). Jesus can't have kept the Passover before the Passover and as a Passover too as the other Gospels say could he? It's all very confusing. And even so, this is Passover stuff, not the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox that marks Easter! And what's with Easter ham? I thought it was Passover Lamb?

What's going on here with the Church? Jesus is not the Ham of God. He is the Lamb of God, or so I thought. It's all so confusing and I'd think these Jewish men would know how to agree on these simple observances. I won't even ask about Bunnies and Eggs! Would you give a sermon on this? Oh...sorry, sounded good to me at least.

Question. Pastor…Matthew 27:62-66 tells us that a Roman guard was placed at Jesus tomb to insure that no one stole the body. It's a good thing they feel down as dead when the Angel showed up. At least they could tell their commander they were knocked unconscious and didn't know what happened to the body. No other Gospel writer says this and the women don’t seem to have to deal with a Roman guard in their trip to the tomb. These guards take money from the elders to say that the disciples came and stole the body. The very thing they were there to prevent. I doubt they would survive, no matter what since this would be such an embarrassment for the Governor. And once again, a great earthquake that rolls stones sideways but does not damage to the city.

Question. Pastor…Ok, just who, what kind of and how many men did the women find at the tomb? Mark 16:5 meet one young man at the tomb. Matthew 28:2 says an bright shiny Angel arrives causing the earthquake and opening the tomb and sits on the stone. Luke 24:3-4 says that the women enter the tomb and two men appear either inside or outside the tomb. And in John 20:12 the women don’t enter but find two shiny Angels sitting inside. Now come on, they can’t be one man, two men, one Angel, two shiny Angels, inside, outside, sitting or standing can they? There seems to be a problem here with both counting and perceiving men from Angels. Can’t be all of the above and if I saw an Angel, I would not just forget and call him a man.

Question. Pastor…Now it gets interesting. No matter what happened, it must have been a real shock to these women. But why, in Mark 16:8 we find the women fleeing in absolute fear and telling no one? In fact, the Gospel of Mark really ends with no resurrection account at all! It just ends with the women running in fear and telling no one about what happened. Most scholars say that is where the story ends and the little ending of Mark was added later just because it had no ending. Also, isn’t it strange that the Gospel of John has TWO endings? I want to ask you about this later….one Gospel with no resurrection story and one with TWO. Hmmmm. I'll ask you more about this in a bit.

Anyway, in Matthew 28:8 the women run and tell the disciples. In Luke 24:9 they tell the disciples and the rest, whoever that is. And in John 20:10-11 Peter and John race to the tomb, John wins the race but doesn’t go in, Peter shows up and goes right in, but Peter is perplexed and John says this is because Peter did not know of the scripture that said Jesus would rise. I find it hard to believe that Peter did not know Jesus said he would rise again do you? This sounds like a political story to me. John knew and Peter was a dolt, but that’s what John does to Peter every chance he gets in Gospel. These men leave and then Mary sees two shiny Angels in the tomb. Why did they not appear to John and Peter who just left? It certainly would have helped Peter. I think John is saying, “I believe the scripture, Peter is stupid and doesn’t and it takes bright shiny Angels to convince women. “

Ok, just a few more questions about the resurrection accounts.

Question. Pastor…Who did Jesus first appear to? In Mark 16:14-15 it is to Mary Magdalene first. I think she liked Jesus and he her. You’d think he’d first appear to James, his brother, or Peter or John. Matthew 28:8-9 says he appears near his tomb but Luke 24:13-15 says it was on the road to Emmaus, a town no one knows what happened to it, but is several miles from Jerusalem evidently. John 20:13-14 has him back at the tomb first. Just seems these four always disagree on events is why I am asking in the first place. It's not like a car accident at all. It seems more like a play that no one can agree what it was about, when, where or who was in it.

Question. Pastor…I guess I was just wondering who Jesus appeared to? Mark says it was Mary Magdalene and Luke says Mary Magdalene and then the other Mary and then the Eleven. And why all the people with similar names? Hard to keep the Marys apart. Luke says “the two” along the road who were just folks and not disciples, then to Peter, then to “the eleven.” And John says to Mary, then to the disciples minus Thomas and then to Thomas later. John would have said , “the ten” I guess and then “the eleven” since Judas was out of the picture. Something remember Paul didn’t know anything about when he said Jesus was seen by the Twelve? I think he should have just gone to see Mary, his mom, first because she would be credible for sure! What do you think? END PART FOUR

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Dennis Diehl is a former pastor of 26 years,  who outgrew the Literalism of Fundamentalism.  He writes about Pastoral and Church abuse and is available to speak on such topics or be helpful to any church suffering under abusive (more...)

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