Marilyn and I were walking in Nice, Provence. While passing a gallery, something on a wall inside caught me. I stopped, stepped back, took a second look, and said, “That can’t be here. It’s in Chicago.”
Marilyn humored me as we went inside and headed straight to the painting that was the spitting image of one by Post-Impressionist painter, Paul Cezanne. Everything about it seemed true: colors, lighting, Post-Impressionist technique. Marilyn said, “What’s wrong.” “Nothing,” I said, “except that this hangs in the Art Museum of Chicago.”
A gallery assistant removed the painting from the wall, turned it around, and showed its certificate: “Vrais Faux 23/125.” I do not speak French, so I had to rely on Latin roots from two years of high school Latin. Vrais probably means true, I thought, and faux is false. True false? A genuine fake? That 23/125 seemed to be saying it was the 23rd copy in a series of 125. Ah, vrais faux, a convincing copy!
There have been dozens of convincing copies of Christ, many seemingly genuine fakes. Luke refers to this when reporting the deliberations of the council about what to do with the Apostles whom they had jailed but were found free and preaching in the Temple the resurrection of Jesus.
“A Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel … said … before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered.” (Luke 5:34-39)
How can we pick out the true Christ from a crowd of convincing copies? The resurrection assures us that Jesus is the Son of God. Apostle Paul says Jesus “was declared to be the Son of God … by his resurrection from the dead.” (Romans 1:4)
“God raised him from the dead, and for many days he appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people.” (Acts 13:31-32)
Many were resurrected with Jesus. “The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.” (Matthew 27:52-53). It is hard to keep something like that secret. It is hard to persuade family and friends that those resurrected with Jesus had not been dead and buried like Jesus.
“He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days.” (Acts 1:3) “He appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time.” (1 Corinthians 5:6) By the resurrection we know that Jesus is not just a good likeness of God, but the “express image of his person.” (Hebrews 1:3)