Easter time is approaching, and every year discovery channel begins to run specials on possibilities of the unreliability of the resurrection, a movie comes out attempting to write it off as bunk, and all sorts of attacks arise against this doctrine.
I have recently come across one that Bart Ehrman suggested in a debate on the resurrection – the theory that Jesus had a twin brother that no one knew about. Ehrman postulates that Jesus really died, and his twin came waltzing into the picture (after somehow disposing of Jesus’ body).
I want to engage the skeptics a bit on this theory.
For this theory to hold true, obviously, Mary would have had to have given birth to two sons in that stable, and ditched one of them before taking Jesus to the temple per Jewish custom.
Then there’s the bribing of Simeon while there to say that God has told him that he wouldn’t die until he saw the redeemer of Israel. (Not to mention the part of getting him to commit suicide, or put a hit out on him so that he actually does die sometime after seeing baby Jesus.)
In the meantime, there is the prepping of Jesus, as well as his hidden brother, that they are going to act like they are the promised Messiah and attempt to convince people that they are God incarnate (talk about being a bad Jew). Then Jesus was going to die a brutal death, and his twin brother was going to come out of hiding. The twin Jesus would have to drive spikes in his hands and feet, as well as let someone jab a lance up through his side so as to make the act look real. Then go back into obscurity after making a few appearances to those who followed his brother around in attempts to convince them that he was his brother. When asked why all the trouble, Mary would just assure them that they would be remembered for ever… well one of them would. The other twin would never really be recognized, unless someone figured out their plot to fool the world for no reason other than to just see if it can be pulled off. (If you’re wondering how much of a cold-hearted, inhumane, non-mother Mary sounds about now then I think you’re catching on.)
But we’re not even half way there. Not only would Mary have had to concoct this part of the scheme within her 9 months of pregnancy but she would also need to get the wise men to come pay her a visit (not sure if she sent telegram or text message), as well as convince the king that he needs to kill every male child 2 yrs old and under a few years from then in order to fulfill prophecy that was written and also giving them a reason to run to Egypt. (Not to mention keeping communications this whole time with whoever is keeping the other twin to let them know to run too so he didn’t die prematurely). There’s also the dreams that she has to somehow put in Joseph, her fiancé’s head, to convince him that she’s still a virgin although expecting (how she pulled that one off I can’t even speculate).
Let’s fast forward a bit, to 12 years. Now they lose Jesus, but not really, Mary just acts like it as it’s just another ploy to make people think there’s something tremendously odd about her son. His wisdom is amazing. Oh! And the kids Mary and Joseph have together don’t have a clue about the other twin – and somehow Joseph has forgotten about the 2nd little boy that was born in that stable – unless he’s in on it as well – but I doubt it as letting too many people in on it would jeopardize the situation. Although she might have let Elizabeth in on it as she needed her boy, John, to go be the spokesman for Jesus before her son came on the scene.
Then there’s the miracles – the star guiding the people, a group of shepherds having a hallucination of angels singing to them that Jesus was born and they needed to leave their sheep and go check it out, turning water into wine, raising the dead on multiple occasions, healing lepers, giving sight to blind men, the ability to walk to lame men (some of whom were in that condition since birth and everyone knew it). He had to be quite a weather man in order to stop a storm dead in its tracks. He had to master the art of walking on water and keeping Peter above the waves also. He also had to be able to read men’s minds and tell them what they were thinking in their hearts without them ever voicing it – and much, much more! (I don’t have time to address how absolutely impossible it would be for every prophecy Jesus fulfilled to have been able to be accomplished by a man with just a mean tricky streak.)
But don’t forget about Ehrman’s supposed twin Jesus – that guy too had to be pretty awesome. He could enter a room without going through a door or window, and disappear just as fast. He also ascended upwards out of the site of over 500 people – before they had elevators!
Then somehow, after convincing all the doubting Jesus followers that he was Jesus, he makes his disciples think they can speak other languages, and a whole boatload of people think they hear the gospel in their own language from these ignorant fishermen. Somehow the disciples heal people, even bring people back to life (Paul did). The disciples do so much, that some people think they are gods themselves. Oh, and Paul saw Jesus again also, not sure how the twin pulled that one off either. Or how he spoke to Ananias in a dream and told him exactly where Paul was and what Paul was expecting and how to give Paul his sight back.
There’s much more, but I’m getting tired of beating a dead horse….
All this elaborate theory just so someone can avoid saying “Jesus Christ really did rise from the dead” which is what the OT promised and the NT emphatically declares as a proven fact. Of course, if He did then He is exactly who He said He is – and Bart is in a whole heap of trouble.