About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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Dead Men Preach


During the December 15th, 2015, Republican leadership debate U. S. Senator Lindsey Graham asserted that "dead men don't preach".  Graham believes that the more ISIS soldiers American bombs can kill the fewer ISIS soldiers will be alive to preach their brand of Islamic extremism.  In other words, "dead men don't preach".  Upon hearing these words my Biblical based brain immediately rose to refute his assertion.  Graham's statement may sound logical but if you think it through, you might agree with me.  Dead men preach.     


The perceived martyrdom of ISIS soldiers contributes to the spread of ISIS.  For every ISIS soldier who is buried into the ground in death there is a crop of people who rise to take his place.  Both the death of an ISIS soldier and the memory of his death promote the cause for which he died.  The fact that one would die for his cause inspires some to join the cause.  In this sense of the word "dead men preach".    


We've seen dead men preaching throughout Christian history.  Christianity always flourishes and spreads during times of persecution.  For every Christian who is executed for his faith and is buried into the ground a crop of Christians rise to take his place.  Many second century Christians testified to the fact that they came to faith in Jesus after seeing a believer executed or after visiting his grave.  As a matter of fact, right up to the 4th century the church set aside days to be holy based on the death dates of martyrs.  Tertullian, a second century Christian apologist, said that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.  He was right.    


Martyrdom for the Christian is his ultimate witness for Jesus.  I'm not implying we should seek martyrdom because we shouldn't.  I'm also not implying that a suicide bombing is a legitimate form of martyrdom because it's not.  I'm convinced, however, that the Apostle Paul viewed his execution as his final and greatest act of witnessing for Jesus.  I believe Stephen (Acts 7) believed the same.  Christians throughout the centuries have died for their faith, and in death they have preached.    


Jesus spoke to this issue when he predicted His death in John 12:24.  "Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains by itself.  But if it dies, it produces a large crop (HCSB)."  Jesus compared Himself to one grain of wheat that once it dies and is planted into the ground produces a huge crop of wheat.  That was certainly true with Jesus' martyrdom.   


Jesus' lifeless body that hung on the cross preached volumes to those standing by.  "The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God by saying, 'Surely this was a righteous man.'  When all of the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breast (Luke 23:47 - 48 NIV)."      


As it was with Jesus, the one who suffers or dies for his cause has a polarizing effect on those who see him suffer or die.  Either he is viewed to be utterly crazy or he is viewed to be heroic and worth following.  This is seen with Jesus' death.  One criminal executed with Jesus believed in Him while the other one didnít believe.  So, when an ISIS soldier is killed in action it's perceived by many as martyrdom.  His death and the memory of his death preach the cause for which he died.  In this sense of the word, "dead men preach".


The reason why Senator Graham fails to understand these things is because our western world culture has divorced itself from the Judeo/Christian consensus that once influenced it.  The secularization of our culture has stripped away our capability to think religious matters through sufficiently enough to understand the religious nature of our fight with ISIS.  Senator Graham believes dead men don't preach.  I believe dead men do preach.



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