Two days ago, we reflected briefly on the fact that each of Jesus’ Apostles ultimately died for insisting He had risen and as a result, had conquered sin and death.
In his book, More than a Carpenter, Josh McDowell lists off the manner in which Jesus’ Apostles died.
Simon Peter – crucified.
Andrew – crucified.
James, son of Zebedee – killed by the sword.
John, son of Zebedee – died a natural death but in exile for his faith.
Philip – crucified.
Bartholomew – crucified.
Thomas – killed by a spear.
Matthew – killed by the sword.
James, son of Alphaeus – crucified.
Thaddaeus – killed by arrows.
Simon the Zealot – crucified.
Matthias – death by stoning.
Concerning the deaths of these men, McDowell makes two important observations.
Firstly, although the New Testament does not mention the way in which the Apostles died (apart from James, son of Zebedee in Acts 12:1-2), this information is based on “historical sources and longstanding tradition.”
Some will want to dismiss tradition as superstition, but it is not that simple. Speaking of the creed concerning the death and resurrection of Jesus in 1 Corinthians 15:3, Paul uses a word that refers to tradition. Tradition often has a strong historical source behind it.
Secondly, while it can be argued many people in history have died for something that was a lie, but they believed to be true, this cannot be said of the Apostles.
To acknowledge they steadfastly maintained Jesus had risen, yet all the while they secretly knew this was false, is to also say they knowingly died for a lie.
Considering the manner of the lives and deaths of the Apostles, this is neither reasonable nor plausible. People do not willingly die for something they know to be untrue!
Which leaves only one possible conclusion. These men died for the truth because Jesus “appeared to the twelve.”
For reflection: Would you be willing to die for something you know is patently untrue? What (or who) would you be willing to die for?