In June 1972 there was a break-in at the Democratic Party’s Headquarters located in the Watergate building in Washington DC. It went virtually un-noticed at the time but due to the investigative journalism of two Washington Post reporters, involvement in the break-in was traced back to the White House. The attempt to cover up the lie of no presidential involvement in the burglary led eventually to the prosecution and imprisonment of several top White House aides and the resignation of President Richard Nixon. The only US President to resign – so far!!
The following words written by one of those convicted of wrongdoing over Watergate is, to my mind, a very powerful endorsement of the justification for belief in the historical truth of the bodily resurrection of Jesus.
Charles Colson, convicted for his involvement in the Watergate scandal as an assistant to President Richard Nixon, writes:
When I am challenged on the resurrection, my answer is always that the disciples and 500 others gave eyewitness accounts of seeing Jesus risen from the tomb. But then I’m asked, “How do you know they were telling the truth? Maybe they were perpetrating a hoax.” My answer to that comes from an unlikely source: Watergate.
Watergate involved a conspiracy perpetuated by the closest aides to the president of the United States-the most powerful men in America, who were intensely loyal to their president. But one of them, John Dean, turned state’s evidence, that is, testified against Nixon, as he put it, “to save his own skin”-and he did so only two weeks after informing the president about what was really going on-two weeks! The cover-up, the lie, could only be held together for two weeks, and then everybody else jumped ship in order to save themselves. Now, the fact is that all those around the president were facing was embarrassment, maybe prison. Nobody’s life was at stake.
But what about the disciples? Twelve powerless men, peasants really, were facing not just embarrassment or political disgrace, but beatings, stoning and execution. Every single one of the disciples insisted, to their dying breaths, that they had physically seen Jesus bodily raised from the dead. Don’t you think that one of those apostles would have cracked before being beheaded, stoned or crucified? That one of them would have made a deal with the authorities? None did. Men will give their lives for something they believe to be true; they will never give their lives for something they know to be false.
The Watergate cover-up reveals the true nature of humanity. Even political zealots at the pinnacle of power will, in the crunch, save their own necks, even at the expense of the ones they profess to serve so loyally. But the apostles could not deny Jesus, because they had seen him face to face, and they knew he had risen from the dead.
No, you can take it from an expert in cover-ups-I’ve lived through Watergate-that nothing less than a resurrected Christ could have caused those men to maintain to their dying whispers that Jesus is alive and is Lord. Two thousand years later, nothing less than the power of the risen Christ could inspire Christians around the world to remain faithful-despite prison, torture, and death. Jesus is Lord: That’s the thrilling message of Easter. It’s a historic fact, one convincingly established by the evidence-and one you can bet your life upon.
I say a hearty “Amen” to the words of Charles Colson. If we truly believe that Jesus lives – let’s live so as to show others that Jesus is alive in us.
Wishing you all a happy and blessed Easter.