A Time for Understanding Jesus

Don't use Holy Week as an excuse to deny His existence.

A Holy Week procession in Spain.

A Holy Week procession in Zamora, Spain.

By + More

It’s Holy Week, a time when most of the world’s Christian faithful observe a series of events beginning with Jesus’ Palm Sunday arrival in Jerusalem and ending with His resurrection from the tomb on Easter Sunday.

It’s a happy time, more important though perhaps less culturally relevant than Christmas, that speaks of the hope all of us can have in the future. The promise of Easter is the promise that we may all be reborn in a restored relationship with God, free from bondage to sin simply by believing and asking for it. At least that is what I believe.

Others believe differently. This does not, in my mind anyway, make me right or them wrong. There are certain central truths about the Christian faith that are common to many denominations; how you express those beliefs – or, if you will, your “works” – are far less important than the beliefs themselves.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the Catholic contraception controversy.]

I bring this up solely to establish a reference point as pertains to the remainder of this column. I am not threatened by those who are different or who have a different set of beliefs. They were created by the same God who I believe created me and are entitled to the presumption of my respect based on our common humanity. It is therefore an irritation that there are those who use Holy Week as an excuse for a round of salvos against the divinity of Christ, as a chance to prove He did not exist or that the Biblical account of His life that appears in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are somehow incorrect or meaningfully incomplete.

I suppose it is reasonable that the onset of Holy Week produce discussions about whether Jesus was real, whether He is the Son of God, and what that does or does not mean for mankind and how we treat each other. What is bothersome to me is that some take it as an excuse to launch a discussion of His nonexistence or our alleged misunderstanding of who He was and what He stood for based on the Biblical accounts.

Giving credit where credit is due, I was put in mind of this by Don Davidson, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Alexandria, Va. A wise man with a thorough knowledge of the scriptures, Davidson pointed out last Sunday the incongruity of those who, for example, use alleged historical artifacts – in this case an eighth century papyrus fragment that purports to mention Jesus’ wife – to make assertions about our collective understanding of who Jesus was and is. What creates the incongruity, Davidson suggested, is the way in which many of those relying with certainty on so-called “new information” to reach conclusions about the life of Jesus are not all that sure about the truth of what is found in the accepted gospels.

[See a collection of political cartoons on gay marriage.]

Call it “political correctness” or whatever else you want, but it seems to me the left-liberals who want matters of faith to be left to the home and to houses of worship are winning a campaign that has as its hallmarks doubt, intimidation and repression. The various attempts, no matter how cleverly mounted and how well disguised, to use Holy Week as an excuse to deny the reason for the celebrations do not diminish me. I am confident in what I believe, so I do not take them particularly personally.

Some may regard them as an impediment to those who are seeking to know God. They may influence some who would otherwise be open to talking about their faith into remaining silent. It is for certain however that, on account of the timing, they are rude – and about as rude as using the arrival of Passover to publish a cover story asserting that there may be some truth to what the deniers of the Holocaust claim. And we need not be shy about making that clear.