Matthew--nailed to the ground with spikes and beheaded
Jude--beaten to death with sticks and clubs
Simon--tortured and crucified
John, son of Zebedee--tortured and exiled
James, brother of John--beheaded
James, brother of Jesus--pushed from the top of a building and then his broken body beaten to death
Andrew, Peter's brother--hung on a cross for three days before dying
Bartholomew--beaten and skinned alive before being beheaded
Thomas--speared with a javelin
Peter--crucified upside down
"Every single one of the Lord's disciples suffered cruel torture? Why? Not for saying Jesus of Nazareth had been crucified. The world knew of and confirmed his death. The disciples were tortured, vilified, exiled, and executed for saying He had risen from the dead! They were put to death for their conviction that Jesus Christ is alive and He is Lord!"
There were plenty resurrection myths going around in pagan Roman society and religion(s). There were so-called flower-gods, like Adonis, who rose again as a narcissus. Various heros who were half-god went to the Underworld, conducted business of various kinds, rescued this person and that they loved, and returned to the world of living men. Ancient Babylonian myths spoke of heroes who did the same thing. So resurrection was not a new idea to the pagan world. But somehow the Christians were different, when they proclaimed Christ had risen. It went to the core of the false religions of the time--they had nothing to equal or refute the message and the fact of Christ's triumphant rising from the dead--nothing!--and they knew it in their hearts. Either they bowed the knee and repented and accepted Christ right then or there, or they persecuted and killed the messenger.
We see the response of the main popular culture of that day--it persecuted and killed the messengers--the Apostles. Are we suffering similarly? Hardly--unless you count in China, Laos, Myammar (Burma Shave Country), and the Muslim counries. In those countries they do not react with a "So what?" The messengers of the Good News and the proclamation of "Christ is Risen!" are greeted with persecution, imprisonment, and even death. The message is still real in those countrie--but apparently not so in America. Why? Why do Americans for the most part go "ho hum" and go back to their sports and entertainments on Easter Day rather than celebrate Christ's resurrection with thankfulness to God? Perhas, you know. I can only guess. The main popular culture does not see the reality of it in our lives. We are so like the world, the message means little or nothing. It is just another message in a society where tens of thousands of infocommercials bombard every single person every twenty four hours.
The day is coming soon in America, though, when we will not be free to proclaim this message in public. Our Christian channels will be muzzled on the subject, for it will be judged politically incorrect and even "hate speech." The IRS will crack down on any ministry, church, or Christian channel that promotes the message of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Islamic jehadist religionists--the activist Wahibist mullahs and other spokespeople for CAIR--will bring Christians to court--even as they are now threatening in current cases involving the throwing off of a commercial flight some mullahs causing a disturbance among the passengers of a plane with their loud prayers and anti-Bush political remarks. Secular humanist judges and activists will join in common cause against Christianity, even as they do now, to muzzle the message, "Jesus is Risen!" To the Moslem religion, God has no son, and certainly the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is blasphemy to the ears of any Moslem. Therefore, they will not permit it in America, over which, with the help of secular humanists in government, the media, the schools, and even the churches, they are exercising ever increasing control.
What to do? Proclaim the message now--"Jesus is Risen, America!" Without the Risen Christ, we have nothing as Christians to offer anyone. We will have a dead religion just like dead Islam and dead Buddhism and dead Hinduism and dead religiosity and works righteousness-based belief of any kind. Let us proclaim the truth--which is the only truth that can set men free, and save them, and convict of sin. We have the only alternative to death and damnation. It is our responsibility to proclaim. It is not our task to attend comfortable churches and hear nice sermons Sunday after Sunday--our task is to proclaim the Gospel and make disciples of all men. All men! Not some, not just a select group we favor, but ALL men! That includes Buddhists, Moslems, Seahawks fans, Wall Street money worshippers, Washingtonian politicos, corportion CEOS, Hollywood stars and wannabes, Jimmy Carter and the anti-Semites, , Governor Swartzenegger and the compromisers with the secular humanist agenda, Barney Frank and the gays, newscasters, porn celebs, druggies and drug pushers, child abusers, mainline church attendees who haven't the born-again conversion necessary to salvation, good people, bad people--you get the picture, we all need this message. All men need what we have in the Resurrected Christ? Will we get busy? Or will the society continue to ignore the real reason for Easter Day? It is up to us.--Ed.