The Easter story? Prove it.

IMG_19800105_222751Easter Sunday was a full day of celebrating. It started off with an early sunrise service, filled with old hymns and strong preaching. Later our church gathered, as we always do, for a celebration. We eat together, sing, and decorate an old rugged cross with offerings from the flower gardens of our members, then stand back and enjoy the explosion of colors that bring it alive. After the service we turn the children loose to fill baskets with multicolored eggs full of partially melted chocolate. Then reluctantly we all tell ourselves its time to pull away from the parking lot and head home. It’s a great day to celebrate what Christians call the most important event in the history of the world. We celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. It’s the thing that defines us, without which our faith is pointless. If Jesus is not risen from the dead then we are possibly the largest and longest running group of pathetic losers the world has ever seen. Many out there, perhaps you, would join them in thinking we are exactly that, a group of delusional losers. Have we lost our grip? All 2.4 Billion of us? Are we all living in a fantasy? How do we believers prove a.) that the resurrection happened. and b.) that it has anything to do with our lives now?

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I’d like to know why?

I suppose I could try to convince you that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead by going the apologetic route. I could suggest to you that when the apostles began telling that Jesus had risen from the dead no one did the obvious thing and produce a body. What I mean is that since the Romans and the Jewish leaders knew exactly where the tomb was, they could have easily gone to it and dragged out the body and paraded it through town to dispel any rumors. Why didn’t they do that? It would have been such a simple solution to the problem. Instead they frantically attempted to stop the story from being told, a much harder thing to do since the apostles were ready to die rather than change their story or stop telling it. This leads to another question. Why is it that not one of Jesus disciples, including Paul, the former Pharisee, ever recanted? Every one of them were brutally killed (except John who lived into his 90’s and never changed his story even after his partners were dead.) rather than be silent about this resurrection. Why? They made no fortune off it. They gained no power. They were repeatedly jailed, beaten, and mocked. It seems to me that after a couple of decades somebody would have fessed up if this had been a hoax, or somebody would have gotten a clue if they had been mistaken. But, you may ask, what if they stole the body? Really? A group of frightened disciples, who ran away at the crucifixion, suddenly gets the courage and training to sneak past a detachment of highly skilled Roman soldiers, move a 1 1/2 to 2 ton stone, drag it past the guard (all 100 or so soldiers) and hide it, then spend the next 30 plus years willingly being jailed, persecuted and tortured to perpetuate a hoax? It takes more faith to believe that, than to believe Jesus rose from the dead. But as compelling as those questions are I think I know a better way to prove the resurrection. It’s more difficult and takes more time though.

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I’ve got a better idea.

I think the best way to prove the resurrection is the way the first disciples did it. They did it by letting the power and love of the risen Christ flow through them and do what only God can do. When I see a woman throw away her cane because she no longer needs it, I know that only the risen one could do that. When I see a seven year old boy place his hands on a friend and pray for their healing, and it happens right there, I know Jesus is risen. When I get a phone call and hear a dear friend say, “The cancer is gone!” I know that he is risen. But even greater than that, when a teen aged girl finds forgiveness and healing for her broken heart and no longer feels the need to slice her legs with a razor blade, I know that He is risen. When a middle aged man sits in my car and receives a new life because of a simple prayer of faith,  I know that Jesus lives. When I see a mother go to a prison and forgive the drunk driver who killed her son, and she weeps for the killer, I know that Jesus is risen. When I see a wealthy doctor sell his large home, and move into a poor neighborhood to start a clinic for the needy, I know Jesus lives. These aren’t isolated events. They happen all the time. They don’t make the news, it’s much more entertaining to talk about the scandals and the hate crimes committed by some who carry Jesus name but aren’t living in his love and power. I pray for them. But I also pray that you look around and see the millions who quietly go about life loving people in Jesus name. They are the proof. They are the evidence. They show the world that Jesus rose from the dead. You know if some how Jesus did not rise from the dead, I would still live this way.

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My delusion trumps your reality.

If I am living in a delusion that’s okay. Why? Because my delusion has made me a better man and given me a better life than the so-called reality of many ever will. If I’m in a delusion then I have experienced way too many coincidental random unexplainable events to ever turn back. If I go through life seeing people transformed by the power of my delusion then I die. I have lost nothing. My life totally rocks. I don’t have much money. My name isn’t making headlines. But my life has meaning beyond those things. My joy will outrun the your happiness any day. But what if you are the one living a delusion? What if you come to the end of your life and discover that Jesus actually did rise from the dead? What if you discover life does have meaning greater than survival. What then?

Niger Day 7 Sand Dunes (3 of 19)What if what you call infinity is actually eternity? What if your life has purpose? What if your senses don’t tell the whole story of what is real? What if it’s true? Don’t you think it’s worth seriously looking into?

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