News and Articles
12 April 2017
Governor Pliny (c. 61- c. 113 AD) wrote with dismay to the emperor Trajan in about 110: what should he do? So-called Christians were decent, moral, seemingly harmless folk, but they simply would not pay divine honours to the Roman emperor.
I considered that I should dismiss any who denied that they were or ever had been Christians when they repeated after me an invocation to the gods and had made offerings of wine and incense to your statue, and furthermore had reviled the name of Christ; none of which things I understand any genuine Christian can be induced to do.
Those who still refused surely had to be executed. Emperor Trajan said he was doing right.
But why would true Christians never insult the name of Jesus – even to save their lives? Surely not their respect for a dead teacher, but because they honoured him as their living Lord.
In the first weeks after the crucifixion, people claimed to have met Jesus alive from the dead – to have talked with him, touched him, taken meals with him. Now, decades later, new believers were coming to trust in him as the crucified Saviour now alive and personally knowable, no longer in bodily form nor as a phantom, but as the living spiritual Lord who had taken over their lives. They experienced his presence day by day.
And right down to the present day, sincere and sane Christian believers make the same claim: Jesus is alive and can be personally known by any who will trust in him. Are Christians all mistaken or trying to trick humanity? Or is this the truth?
That the Son of God laid down his life to win his Kingdom and to claim his Bride (the Church) is the most staggering fact in timeless eternity. If it is true that Jesus of Nazareth was God in human form, that he laid down his life to pay the penalty for all mankind’s wrong, and if it is true that he rose again to life, destroying the final power of death – then his Resurrection is the greatest day in all human history. And the day someone comes to believe would surely be the greatest day of their life too! Isn’t it time seriously to examine those astonishing claims?
This is part 3 of a three-part series about the greatest day in history:
1. Pliny, Letters, Book X, letter 96.
The Christian Martyrs' Last Prayer by Jean-Léon Gérôme (The Art Walters Museum). Used under a Creative Commons licence.