Fake news is something we’ve heard quite a bit about the last few years. Although the phrase is relatively new in terms of popular usage, fake news has been around as long as man has. It’s just been called by different names: propaganda, false narrative, disinformation, etc.
Fake news can be serious. At the time of this writing, health officials are trying to get a handle on the Coronavirus, and having to spend precious time and energy trying to sort out what is real from what is not is not a good thing. Of course, fake news can be entertaining. I recently saw a headline that said, “MAN’S 174 MPH SNEEZE BLOWS WIFE’S HAIR OFF.” That’s as funny as it is fake.
Matthew tells us that after Jesus’ resurrection the chief priests and the elders concocted a plan that involved bribing the soldiers who had been guarding the tomb of Jesus. They were to tell people that Jesus hadn’t been resurrected—the disciples had stolen His body. Matthew says, “So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day” (28:15). That’s the first century version of fake news.
When Peter is writing Jewish disciples in 2 Peter 1, he makes it crystal clear that the message he and the other apostles shared with them and fake news have nothing in common. “For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we told you the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty” (v. 16). Peter shared what he saw and heard—not what he had dreamed up. He was an eyewitness. Not the kind who catches a glimpse of something for a few seconds and changes his story multiple times. Peter was with Jesus for three years, so he knew exactly what he was talking about. Furthermore, he was willing to suffer and die for his message.
Does it make sense that he and others would die for a lie?
It’s always interesting that those who don’t believe in the resurrection almost always believe there was a Jewish man named Jesus who lived and died in first century Palestine. Most believe He was a kind and loving person, a great teacher and they are touched by His words in the Sermon on the Mount. But the same sources that provide us this information also tell us that He was crucified and rose from the dead three days later. Can we really go through the Gospels cafeteria style, choosing what we want and what we don’t want?
More to the point, doesn’t it make more sense to believe that Jesus rose from the dead than to try to explain how a movement could start after His death from the eleven remaining apostles? They were lacking in credentials, their faith ran hot and cold and they didn’t always get along. To believe that this group, with their Leader dead, could somehow start a movement that overcame persecution from the Jews and then from the Romans is a miracle greater than any recorded in the gospels.
The good news isn’t too good to be true; it’s too good not to be true.