“The chief priests assembled with the elders and took counsel; then they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him while we were asleep.’ And if this gets to the ears of the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.”” (Matthew 28:8-15)
To paraphrase George Orwell, 2+2=5 or whatever the thought police say it is. Fortunately, one of the requirements of a Christian is to breathe truth into society. Jesus promises, “when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say.” ‘Taking up our cross” implies a contrarian lifestyle.
Interestingly, Jesus’ battle wasn’t with Rome but with the Scribes and Pharisees and with His own Family. Jesus’ family thought He was mad and possessed by a demon (cf. Mark 3:20; John 10:30. The religious leaders sought to trap Jesus (cf. “Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar?; “Does it make sense to believe in a physical resurrection?; and 3) What is the greatest commandment? cf. Matthew 22:15-22)).
Even though all of us will deny Christ (cf. Luke 22:54-62; Matthew 26:69-75), God gives us multiple opportunities to “get back on the horse. ”
Peter repeatedly made good on his promise to stand with Jesus (“Even if all the others reject you, I never will!” cf. Mark 14:27)
- “Jesus the Nazorean was a man commended to you by God with mighty deeds, wonders, and signs, which God worked through him in your midst, as you yourselves know. This man, delivered up by the set plan and foreknowledge of God, you killed, using lawless men to crucify him. But God raised him up, releasing him from the throes of death, because it was impossible for him to be held by it. (Acts 2)
- You denied the Holy and Righteous One* and asked that a murderer be released to you. The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses. (Acts 3)
- Leaders of the people and elders: If we are being examined today about a good deed done to a cripple, namely, by what means he was saved, then all of you and all the people of Israel should know that it was in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead; in his name this man stands before you healed. (Acts 4)
When the Psalmist prays, “Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge; I say to the LORD, “My Lord are you.” O LORD, my allotted portion and my cup, you it is who hold fast my lot” (Psalm 16) he is feeling the pressure of the contrarian lifestyle.
Jesus, fresh from the crucifixion and the empty tomb tells Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, “Do not be afraid” (i.e. of your family and the religious elite). (cf Matthew 28)
Today and every day, Jesus says, “Do Not Be AFRAID” WHEN YOU “Take Up Your Cross.”