FIRST-PERSON: Ebola, sin & Christ's resurrection

ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP) -- Circumstances surrounding the first case of Ebola diagnosed on American soil reinforce the Bible's teaching about human nature. They also remind us of the overwhelming evidence for Jesus' resurrection.

Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, is alleged to have lied on his departure screening questionnaire when boarding a flight from Liberia to America.

"On the form obtained by the Associated Press and confirmed by a Liberian government official, Duncan answered 'no' to questions about whether he had cared for an Ebola patient or touched the body of someone who had died in an area affected by Ebola," USA Today reported.

But "on Sept. 15, days before he left Liberia for the United States, Duncan -- a Liberian national -- helped carry 19-year-old Marthalene Williams into a taxi to go to the hospital after her family was unable to get an ambulance," USA Today reported, citing the New York Times.

Williams, who was seven months pregnant and infected with Ebola, was turned away at the hospital due to lack of space in the Ebola ward. She returned home that evening and died hours later, according to the Times.

If, as alleged, Duncan was aware he had been exposed to Ebola and then lied about it in order to gain access to the United States, the situation illustrates the biblical teaching that human nature is inherently sinful or, put another way, selfish and self-centered.

If Duncan lied on the screening questionnaire, it may have been an effort aimed at self-preservation. In apparently telling a lie he was allowed to come to America, where he would have a better chance to survive in the event he contracted Ebola.

We don't know the motives of Duncan's apparent lie. But if he lied on the screening questionnaire, I suspect he was acting according to unrestrained self-interest. In short, he sinned.

What does Duncan's situation have to do with the resurrection of Jesus Christ?

One theory of resurrection skeptics is that the disciples stole Christ's body and perpetrated the lie that He had risen. In order to accept this theory, one has to believe the disciples were willing to die in order to perpetrate a lie -- since all but one were executed for refusing to recant their belief in the resurrection.

(The only disciple not to be executed was John, and he spent some of his final days exiled on the island of Patmos for maintaining his belief in the risen Christ.)

If the disciples were lying about the resurrection, surely one of them would have confessed to the deception rather than suffer death -- and it would have only taken one. None of them did though. They died insisting Jesus rose from the dead.

It also seems plausible that rather than face death, at least one disciple would lie to preserve his life -- even if he had seen Jesus alive after His crucifixion. After all, isn't that like what Duncan is alleged to have done? Yet the disciples were so convinced of Jesus' resurrection and the eternal salvation He offered that none of them yielded to the temptation to save his own life by falsely claiming Jesus was dead.

Humans will tell horrific lies to preserve their lives -- even about being exposed to Ebola. But evidence of the resurrection was so overwhelming that each and every disciple chose to rest in the eternal life offered by Jesus rather than preserve his own earthly existence.

He is risen indeed.

Kelly Boggs is a weekly columnist for Baptist Press, director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention's office of public affairs, and editor of the Baptist Message (www.baptistmessage.com), newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.
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