THROUGH THE FIRE: Fake News in Old Times

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By BILL WATANABE

A couple of months ago, I wrote in The Rafu Shimpo about Trump and his Big Lie; however, big lies from people in power have been around for a long time.

We celebrated Easter this past April 4 – and it somehow made me think of “fake news” back in the time of Jesus and the political turmoil that existed in Israel 2,000 years ago. As you may know, Easter is the celebration of the resurrection from death to life of Jesus of Nazareth – an event that took place in Jerusalem while his grave was being guarded by Roman sentries expressly so that no one could tamper with the grave and make sensationalist claims (i.e. fake news). The Jewish power elite wanted to make sure that this so-called Messiah stayed firmly in the ground.

The Easter story says that Jesus, despite the Roman guards, did in fact resurrect and leave the grave and showed himself to many eye-witnesses before ascending to heaven. The Jewish power elites were in a tizzy – and were desperate to deny this unexplainable event, so they concocted and spread the notion that Jesus’ body was stolen by his disciples and hidden somewhere – they created a “Big Lie and fake news.”

Because this fake news was being promulgated by the Jewish power elites, most of the Jewish people probably believed it to be true. The Jewish elites thought the Big Lie would solve their worries.

Ah — but then, little by little, Jewish converts to Christianity began to appear on the scene in Jerusalem. These people who called themselves “Christians” were doing miracles and healing people and there was a growing community of loving Christians who believed in a resurrected Jesus. Thousands of Jews were converting into this new faith – and this really put the Jewish power elites even more in a tizzy – a super-tizzy!

One of the Jewish elites was a guy named Paul from Tarsus – a super-smart Bible scholar who was caught up in the “Big Lie and the fake news.” Paul made it his personal mission to lock up these Jewish crazies who claimed to be converted by Jesus and maybe even kill them if needed. Paul believed the lie that Jesus was a fake, so he was on the road with soldiers to lock up Jewish Christian zealots hiding out in the town of Damascus.

According to witness accounts, all of a sudden Paul was confronted like a flash of lightning by Jesus himself and Jesus told Paul to stop messing with the new Christians. This was Paul’s moment of truth – when his eyes were opened and he realized he was duped by the Big Lie that the dead body of Jesus was stolen by his disciples. Paul did a big 180 and became a convert – and eventually became known as the “Apostle Paul.”

Jesus gave Paul the huge task of doing Christian outreach to everyone, including non-Jews. This would not be easy for Paul because many Christians were afraid of him and all of Paul’s former Jewish colleagues – the Jewish elites – hated him for being a traitor.

Paul became one of the most important persons (besides Jesus) who has ever lived. He authored a big chunk of the Bible and promoted the idea that Christianity was for the whole world and not just for the Jewish people.

In the Bible, there is a verse in Paul’s letter to the Romans, Verse 16:5, where he says (my paraphrase) “Give my greetings to Epenetus, the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia.” I like to think that Epenetus helped spread the word to others and eventually 2,000 years later, it came to impact an Asian American Christian like me.

The Big Lie can fool some of the people but eventually the Truth will reign.

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Bill Watanabe writes from Silverlake near downtown Los Angeles and can be contacted at [email protected] Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

 

 

 

 

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