Can 12 Men Keep A Secret?
Updated: Sep 18, 2019
One of my favorite Chuck Colson quotes is:
“I know the resurrection is a fact, and Watergate proved it to me. How? Because 12 men testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead, then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years, never once denying it. Every one was beaten, tortured, stoned and put in prison. They would not have endured that if it weren't true. Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world-and they couldn't keep a lie for three weeks. You're telling me 12 apostles could keep a lie for 40 years? Absolutely impossible.”
By saying this, Chuck is highlighting an important truth for us as to the veracity of the Biblical story of Christ. Here is a man who served as a Special Counsel for President Richard Nixon. He had obtained a position of high power and authority, and he was a person of great influence. Yet he saw it all crumble when those around him began to save their own skin rather than keeping and sticking to the lie that would have potentially kept them all as free men and in power. Yet someone wants to say that a disciple facing crucifixion upside down isn't going to confess something that he knows to be untrue just to attempt to get a merciful death or possibly even save his life? Preposterous.
Just look at their deaths:
Peter and Paul:
Both martyred in Rome about 66 AD, during the persecution under Emperor Nero. Paul was beheaded. Peter was crucified, upside down at his request, since he did not feel he was worthy to die in the same manner as his Lord.
Went to the "land of the man-eaters," in what is now the Soviet Union. Christians there claim him as the first to bring the gospel to their land. He also preached in Asia Minor, modern-day Turkey, and in Greece, where he is said to have been crucified.
Was probably most active in the area east of Syria. Tradition has him preaching as far east as India, where the ancient Marthoma Christians revere him as their founder. They claim that he died there when pierced through with the spears of four soldiers.
Possibly had a powerful ministry in Carthage in North Africa and then in Asia Minor, where he converted the wife of a Roman proconsul. In retaliation the proconsul had Philip arrested and cruelly put to death.
The tax collector and writer of a Gospel, ministered in Persia and Ethiopia. Some of the oldest reports say he was not martyred, while others say he was stabbed to death in Ethiopia.
Had widespread missionary travels attributed to him by tradition: to India with Thomas, back to Armenia, and also to Ethiopia and Southern Arabia. There are various accounts of how he met his death as a martyr for the gospel.
The son of Alpheus, is one of at least three James referred to in the New Testament. There is some confusion as to which is which, but this James is reckoned to have ministered in Syria. The Jewish historian Josephus reported that he was stoned and then clubbed to death.
Simon the Zealot:
So the story goes, ministered in Persia and was killed after refusing to sacrifice to the sun god.
Was the apostle chosen to replace Judas. Tradition sends him to Syria with Andrew and to death by burning.
In fact, the only one who is verifiably recorded to have died of old age was the Disciple John. Yet even he did not recant his statements of faith. How then would all of these disciples stay true? Let's hear from Mr. Colson himself.
Chuck is right. Most people will not willingly give their lives for something that the know is a lie, and those around them almost certainly won't let them be killed for a lie. Not only would these disciples have been willing to die for the lie, but those around them, who followed them, would have had to be willing to let them die to maintain that same lie. If someone I knew and loved were about to be put to death over a lie, I don't think I could live with myself if I sat by and watched them die in order to maintain a lie, no matter how important that lie might be.
Those in Watergate cracked over prison, these disciples didn't crack in the face of a torturous death? I can't believe it.
No, these disciples knew the truth. They had seen the Messiah, the RISEN Messiah, and were determined to tell the world about Him and His love for them. To teach them how to follow him and to fullfil the great commission that he gave them in Matthew 28:18-20.
For this, they would gladly lay down their lives as a testimony to it's truth. Today, we are blessed because they did. Shalom.