My husband and I love watching House. That’s the medical drama about the damaged but brilliant doctor who solves medical mysteries that elude other doctors. He is usually the last hope for his patients and because of that, unlike other medical shows where a patient is devastated to receive a dire diagnosis; these patients welcome the life-altering news.
Why is that? Often because the patients have suffered with symptoms they know are real. They’ve tried, sometimes, dozens of other avenues for treatment and cure. More often than not, the incorrect treatment was not only ineffective for solving their problem; it created more problems and sometimes threatened their lives. The correct diagnosis, even if it is a terrible one, is better than not knowing the truth.
My husband’s life has been a real life House episode for over five years now as he’s battled a mystery illness and pursued courses of treatment that created more problems than they cured. When we prepare to visit a new doctor to receive test results now, we’re more devastated to have no answers than we would be if we were receiving news of a life-threatening disease with a name.
My college psychology professor used to say “the facts are our friends; truth is always on our side no matter what that truth is.” An inaccurate diagnosis, a wrong course of treatment, false hopes – these are the enemies – not the truth.
This is why most Christians were relieved to learn the condemning news that they are sinners with no hope of saving themselves.
See, we knew something was wrong inside us – something life threatening. We suffered from the symptoms but could not find the root cause no matter where we looked – and we looked. We pursued all kinds of false diagnoses. We tried every self-help treatment available and followed every healer who told us they knew the cure for what ailed us. Those false cures were not only ineffective; they usually created more problems, some of them life-threatening.
Then, one day, someone told us they knew what was wrong with us. That person may have exhibited compassion or they may have been as cold as Dr. House, but they knew the truth about our condition – we were sinners with no hope of saving ourselves facing a sentence of death. Rather than be offended or devastated by the news, we were relieved to hear the truth that somehow we already knew. We’d suffered the symptoms of our sinful condition for so long we were ready for the cure.
And THAT was the good news. The cure was available for us. The cure of trusting Jesus Christ with our lives. No longer did we have to search bookstores and drugstores, gurus and shamans, backrooms or bedrooms for treatments that only quieted the symptoms but did nothing to touch the disease. Now we were free to pursue the effective treatment available through a relationship with the God of the universe.
Just like on House, for some the evidence of the cure was immediate but for others it took time but the Great Physician has a 100% survival rate among those who are willing to receive the truth and trust His prescription for their lives.
Once I looked at a millipede up close – really close – like with a microscope. Thanks to Dr. Andrus and my required science course in college, I was learning to observe. My assignment was to make one hundred observations about one of those brown, hard-shelled millipedes that curl up in a ball when you touch them. After one hour, my list looked like this: brown, hard, lots of legs, curls up in defense, brown, really hard. It was looking like a long afternoon so I pulled out the microscope.
Do you know that millipedes aren’t just brown? They have all kinds of intricate detailed patterns woven into their hard-shelled design that cannot be seen without aid of a microscope and the desperation of a college grade for motivation.
Who does that? Who designs a creature to spend its life under rocks and compost and then adds artistic detail?
I suppose the same artist who hides crystal formations inside ugly brown rocks (geodes) or stalagmite exhibits hundreds of feet underground. The same engineer who uses His incredible skill to make bumblebees take flight or woodpeckers walk down trees. This same great entertainer puts some of his most comical birds (penguins) and sea mammals in frozen Antarctica where they can be observed by who? -Only a couple of lost and desperate seafarers and the guy from National Geographic who said “haven’t we seen enough photos of African tribal dancers?”
It has to be that He put such detail and craftsmanship into His work for the sheer joy of it, for the satisfaction of a job well done, for the appreciation of the handful of His other creations who would take the time, the effort and the work to search for His signature in the most obscure places.
God is so unexpected. He is such a Master artist, engineer, entertainer, and communicator. Through all of creation, can’t you hear His laughter?
“Earth is crammed with heaven and every common brush afire with God, but only he who sees takes off his shoes.” Elizabeth Barrett Browning
“I heard about it last year and it seemed very effective so I decided to do it. I went right out and bought the book.” She remarked.
“That’s great. How’s it going?”
“Well, so far, not too well.” She frowned.
“Maybe because all I’ve managed to do is read the book.”
I meet a lot of people like that in the workout room at the Y. I also meet a lot of people like that at church. They’ve read the book. They’ve heard the sermons. But somehow, it’s not working. Must be that Christianity is broken. Right? Here’s another thought.
My daughter will take Driver’s Ed soon. Can you imagine what it would be like if she spent two weeks sitting in the classroom learning the rules, reading the book, watching the videos and listening to the lectures and then was issued her license? Of course, not. At some point, she’s got to actually get behind the wheel and learn to drive.
Or karate? Imagine what would happen if I sat to the side watching every class for a year, read every book I could find on martial arts and watched all the Karate Kid movies and then went in to my Kyoshi and asked for a black belt. It would never happen. At some point, it would be imperative that I suited up and actually attempted to punch and kick and block.
I love the book of James in the Bible. James was not into frills or eloquent build up. James had a Nike kind of faith. You can almost hear him shouting, “JUST DO IT!” In chapter one, he says “Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (James 1:22) At some point, we all have to get up out of the pew and put feet to this faith we say we have.
Another woman at the Y learned what church I attend and mentioned with excitement that she works with a man who also attends that church. “He’s an amazing guy. He actually lives his faith. I’ve never met anyone like him!”
It was wonderful to hear that this man clearly lived his faith but sad to hear her speak of him as such a rare find.
G.K.Chesterton once said, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”
Try it this week. After you listen to Sunday’s sermon or read your daily Bible reading, commit yourself to actually doing what it says this week. (If the sermon is unclear, shock your pastor. Ask him after service, “If I were to put your sermon into practice this week, what would I do?”)
Don’t worry about getting it perfect. My daughter will need a lot of practice before she can hit the highway. I fell on my backside a million times before I could pull off the kicks I needed to earn my black belt. When we first try to love others or tell the truth or forgive or reach out to the poor or stop complaining and gossiping, we’re clumsy at it, we fumble, we falter, we look like fools. That’s OK.
What’s not OK is reading God’s word, nodding in agreement and then going off without doing what it says. James says this is SELF-deception and I understand that because, believe me, it doesn’t fool anyone else. Be the person that people meet and say, “That woman or that man really lives out his or her faith.” Maybe together, we can start to make meeting doers of the word a more common experience!
We were watching a silly wedding movie on TV with our sixteen- year-old recently. One character has a revelation about his relationship and exclaims “I would rather spend my life fighting with her than making love to any other woman!” I turned to my daughter and said “I think that was actually written into our wedding vows.” She just rolled her eyes and laughed. When you’re a homeschooled daughter of parents who work at home, you get a pretty realistic front row seat to marriage.
Since we’re talking deeper with Jesus, there are few things that require a deeper commitment than marriage. There’s a lot of water that passes under the bridge between “I do” and “’Til death do you part” and nothing convinces me more of the power of Christ than the survival of our marriage for twenty-one years.
God, in His wisdom, knew it would be better for me to marry than to remain single. I think He knew my tendency toward arrogance and left alone, I might have convinced myself I had conquered my sinful nature. In close daily combat – I mean, contact – with another Jesus-loving human, however, there is no hiding my capacity for sin. “I want my way.” “I think I’m right most of the time.” “I know best.” “That’s just stupid.” “He’ll never change.” “I give up.” Are these the thoughts of a surrendered Christian, a humble servant transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit who seeks to put God and others before herself? No, but they’re sometimes my first thoughts before I get out of bed! Boy, do I need Jesus!
My marriage has convinced me of the active working power of Jesus because we’ve faced really tough times and survived. When we were first married, I had a chronic illness which God eventually healed. Now, my husband is grappling with a serious illness but he continues to work two jobs and help around the house. We’ve seen “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer and in sickness and in health” – sometimes all in one year. We have weathered a lot and there were times that our sinful natures tore at the fabric of unity that is God’s idea of marriage but, here we are, still loving each other and still best friends despite our disputes and differences.
Our marriage is a living, breathing testimony to the power of prayer, the blessing of keeping commitments in the face of testing, God’s ability to refuel empty emotional tanks over and over again and the plain, old persevering-never-say-die stubbornness.
I’ve seen interviews with contestants on Dancing with the Stars and now I think that ballroom dancing is a great analogy for marriage. When the music plays, we see a couple made beautiful by the art and grace of moving in perfect sync to the song and to each other. Behind the scenes of that dance, however, are hours of arduous work, sweat, practice, injury, tears, creativity, argument, compromise, choreography and determination. This is the truth behind any art and behind most lasting marriages.
Facing illness and the possibility of death helps put things in perspective but it doesn’t make us perfect. We still annoy one another, disagree, dispute, challenge and resist change. But some of that is because we are close. We’re honest. We care about each other. We haven’t given up. We’re still growing, still moving toward our best selves, still iron sharpening iron.
I want to grow old with my husband. I want to see his irritating, procrastinating, hard-working, handsome face looking back at me when we’re in our nineties. Jesus has been our hope this far and He’ll be our hope if we survive to our nineties, too.
I’m not sure what God has planned going forward but I’m glad that this cyclone of a marriage has been part of His plan for our lives. To be sure, it’s more tango than waltz, more swing dance than pas de deux but I’ve no desire to dance with any other partner and I never want the music to end.
Some days are full of meaningful exchanges. My daughter and I connect over her schoolwork. My husband and I are in sync. I’m able to affect someone’s healthy lifestyle choice at work. Heaven feels so close during prayer it’s as though He beamed me up for an hour.
Other days, all I do is kill ants.
Spring means dealing with an invasion of pesky black ants. They don’t invade en masse but one by one by one. I spot them crawling up a wall, along a window ledge, across a kitchen shelf or along the bathroom sink. So, one by one, as I see them, I stop what I’m doing and end their foray into my world and then return to what I am doing only now I am distracted by keeping one eye out for tiny intruders.
Other days it’s not ants but perhaps endless errands or hours spent waiting for medical procedures or sick with a cold or cleaning up a series of messes created by others or handling complaints at work. Whatever it is, there are days when I do not see the adventure of life with Christ but only the drudgery and dullness of existence this side of the veil.
These are the days when evil whispers in my ear “There is no more than this. You have fooled yourself into thinking there is. Despair. Abandon hope. You are simply dust and life is a series of endless, meaningless tasks.” But that is the voice of evil, using the minutia of life to tempt me to doubt what I know is true. The evil one knows that faced with great challenges or disaster, my human spirit rises up and reaches for God so I cannot be tempted to turn from Him then but faced with the daily dullness of repetitive chores or petty annoyances or mindless vagrancies my spirit sinks to the ground, I feel small and unnoticed and am most open to hearing his case against my hope of heaven.
Odd this, that I should need Jesus more on days of drudgery than on days of disaster but the truth is I need Him all the time but on the days of killing ants I am less inclined to search for Him. I should keep in my kitchen a sign that reads “Beware the temptation in the tedium for doubt resides in the doldrums of everyday.”
I thank God for these days of ant-killing because it is in them I am reminded that I have far to go to become like Jesus. Thomas Merton once said “The monk is not defined by his task, his usefulness; in a certain sense he is supposed to be useless, because his mission is not to do this or that job but to be a man of God.” Before all other callings, I am called to be His, to be like Him, to be with Him even in the midst of dust bunnies, oil changes and leftovers.
There is a poem by Alistair Maclean that goes “Even though the day be laden and my task dreary and my strength small, a song keeps singing in my heart. For I know that I am Thine, I am part of Thee. Thou art kin to me, and all my times are in Thy hand.” Know that on the dreary days, evil whispers in our ears but know also that greater is He that is in us than He that is in the world – even in the days of chasing ants.
“Christian writing.” I replied.
“Oh.” He answered with a tinge of disappointment. “Do you ever write for normal people?”
And I could hear God laugh.
In the King James translation of 1 Peter 2:9, God says to us “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people”. Boy, do we fulfill that scripture in spades! More recent translations replace “a peculiar people” with “a people for his own possession” or “His own special people” but I think peculiar hits the nail on the head. I learned early in life that God isn’t too discriminating about who He lets sit at His table and I’ve come to appreciate how fortunate I am that He isn’t.
Take, for instance, the motley crew that used to gather at the Baptist church in my hometown for Sunday night hymn sings. This was the seventies, mind you, so hymn sings weren’t the normal place to find anyone, never mind a teen-age girl, but I attended faithfully because the church family was my home and, well, I was peculiar even then.
Services were led by a young pastor fresh out of seminary. As I recall he wasn’t very popular with the adults and his tenure was not long-lived. I understood only enough to know he struggled under the weight of people’s criticism and being a Christian in high school in the seventies, it helped me to have a leader who knew the sting of rejection.
The pianist was a large woman named Lucy who played with enthusiasm but had a habit of changing the tempo of a song mid-verse. It made every hymn a bit of a musical adventure. The other regular attendees were a spinster school teacher named Louise who wore cat glasses and sang with a glass-shattering vibrato, a socially awkward woman named Melva who often interrupted the morning sermons to announce she was going to the bathroom and who once gave my mother a toilet bowl brush for Christmas and Fred Bailey, a man who was old from the time I was young, lost an arm in an industrial accident but still carved dollhouse furniture and who always requested hymn #333, Blessed Assurance, (“all three verses and could we please stand to sing” every time).
So, while my peers were home listening to rock opera, I was standing next to Mr. Bailey singing in full voice about our blessed assurance. I had no cool young youth minister who was targeting my demographic. There were no special youth services or lock-ins and good Christian music was still an oxymoron. So, God loved me and taught me through this gathering of misfits and small-town rejects.
Together, we sang about a love that was higher and deeper than any we could find on earth. We sang about a love that would not let us go even when others would not draw near. We sang about a promised home where we would have a place even though now we didn’t really belong. And we sang about the family of God into which we were welcomed even though we knew, only too well, all the reasons there were to reject us.
We were a mighty peculiar people but during the hours we spent together, we knew in the depths of our souls that we were also part of a “chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.” As the body of Christ we were transformed. We were not clumsy, rejected pastors or unchosen spinsters or chubby studious virgin teens or damaged old men or widowed or divorced or socially awkward. We were beautiful, loved and accepted – a people of His own possession.
Together in that church basement, we would gather and we live out the second half of that verse for 1 Peter 2:9 “that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light”. When I remember those nights, I don’t remember a gathering of misfits but rather a room alive with light in a dark town.
God revels in calling those of us the world rejects in order to make His power and glory known throughout the universe. He laughs at the judgments and conventions of people who see only the outward appearance for God looks on the heart.
No, I never write for normal people.
I write for people who know how much they deserve to be excluded but who bask in the audacious grace of a God who has chosen them, embraced them, transformed them and filled them with a brilliance that nothing on this earth will dim.
“Write what you know” they say. So, I write for a peculiar people and it’s my honor and joy to do so.
One day as I waited for her to slowly tie her own shoe laces so we could leave for an appointment, I thought I was doing very well but my observant daughter called me on it. She looked up at me and uttered an exasperated, “Mo-om.”
“What?” I asked. “I’m being patient!”
“You’re not BEING patient.” She replied. “You’re ACTING patient.”
Wow. Found out by a six-year-old. Now I know how the emperor felt.
As a Christian, I can fall into the very bad habit of putting my genuine self under deep cover. I know how I am SUPPOSED to be, so I act like that. That’s not all bad but it’s only the first step in actually BECOMING like Christ. I even try to pull the act off in prayer sometimes.
“Lord, I trust you with my life.” I may pray. But then the Spirit whispers, “You aren’t being trusting, you’re acting trusting. I’m not fooled. Let me take you where you need to be.”
My prayer isn’t wrong; I just need to go deeper. Like the father of the possessed boy in Mark 24, we should cry out often “Lord, I do believe. Help my unbelief!”
These days we live in are loaded with the temptation to be fearful, anxious, or worried about the future. I find I need more time alone with God than ever so that He can get beneath my façade of near-faith and develop in me true peace, true freedom from anxiety and true courage to face whatever comes. These days I am surrounded by others in greater need than I am and it’s a test of my compassion, my generosity and my love for others. I need time alone with Jesus and the Word of God so that I can get past just acting compassionate to where I actually am compassionate.
I suppose it’s similar to learning a new language. As a sinner, my first language is sinful thinking. As a saint, saved by grace and walking by faith, I am learning the new language of Christ-likeness. It’s natural to stumble around with tenses and sentence structure when learning a new language but eventually, my hope is that I will think in the new language. I want Christ-like behavior to become my heart language but to make that happen, I must immerse myself in Christ through time spent in prayer, reading His word, worshipping and learning from others who are on the same journey.
Is your genuine self under deep cover? Are you acting like Christ when you should be being like Christ? Me, too. But God promises me in His word that I can become like Christ. Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief!
I am fascinated by the birds that breed and feed in my wooded backyard. My white cat, Sushi, stalks them, often poised directly below their feeder pole but they eat and sing undeterred by the threat that lurks beneath them. They have songs and wings.
Our Creator God has a voracious appetite for variety. My common backyard birds come in a vast array of colors, sizes and designs when really He could have chosen to create just one singular breed and we would never have known the difference.
In His wisdom, He muted the colors of the females, a camouflage from predators while the males fan and preen and display their magnificence to both win their mates and to protect them. Yet, he blessed many of the females with brilliant flashes of color beneath their wings – for what purpose except for the joy of it and the flair of a Master’s brush?
Each bird, too, has its own language and call. Again, they could have all done fine with a common “caw” but instead there are tweets, twitters, warbles, cries and alarms individual to each breed and to each situation. Many listeners note that often the plainest, tiniest wren has been blessed with the boldest and sweetest song.
God’s passion for variety is revealed not only in these creatures but also in ourselves. We humans are alike and yet so different from each other when really one tone of skin or one color of eyes or one type of talent might have done. Instead, we each have our own coloring, our own distinctive markings, our own wings, our own song.
Made in the image of a Creator God, we are designed to create. Our creative urges are as varied as ourselves – driving some to music, some to visual arts, others to words, some to wood and others to movement. There are those who are driven to create order, new inventions, new relationships, healing techniques, teaching methods or more children. Some were designed to create hope in others and some to create lasting peace. The ways we express our creativity are as unique as our DNA and as necessary to a full and satisfying life.
All of us will die. Beneath the places we breed and feed lurks the ever present specter of death stalking our every move. But we have wings and songs. Will you go the grave with the song still in you? Will you live a life of quiet desperation? Or will you exercise the wings given you by the Master Designer? Will you find your voice and the song He imagined only you would sing? Will the world be blessed with what was formed in you before time and what was part of the plan before He spoke light into being?
Look out on the birds of spring and ask Him, “What song was I designed to sing? Let it take wing within me.”
Last week I watched Raiders of the Lost Ark for the first time in years. I love the scene where Indiana Jones discovers where Marion has been taken captive and instead of rescuing her, he leaves her there! It’s a great moment because we all know the hero is supposed to rescue the damsel in distress but Indiana Jones is no ordinary hero. He knows it will serve their goal better if he leaves Marion in her predicament for just a little longer. Eventually, he saves her but a lot of damsel distress happens in between.
That’s just like Jesus. He’s no ordinary hero. We have all these expectations about what He should do in our lives and when but He’s not compelled to serve our expectations. He’s got a greater plan and sometimes it serves the good of the goal to leave us unrescued for the moment.
Jesus loved John the Baptist. They were cousins and John, perhaps more than anyone at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, understood what Jesus was about. It amazes me that when John is thrown into prison and sends word to Jesus, Jesus doesn’t come. He doesn’t show up. He sends John a message through one of his followers and shortly thereafter, John is beheaded.
Jesus loved Mary and Martha and Lazarus. They were his friends. He stayed at their home when He was in town. They hosted His gatherings. Then Lazarus grew seriously ill. They sent for their friend who could heal the sick. Does He drop everything and come rushing to their rescue. No. He tarries. Lazarus dies. What are they to think? Where was He? How could He not come?
In both cases, Jesus knew it served the greater plan for Him not to come. John, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus are all rescued now but in the moment, they remained unrescued. Jesus is no ordinary hero.
Some of us remain unrescued. We love Jesus. We follow Him the best we can. We’re not perfect but we’ve really tried. Then trouble shows up at our door. We are sick unto death. We are financially devastated. We watch relationships crumble. We cry out to our hero for help, and we wait. But we remain unrescued.
We know He can hear us. We know He could save us if He wanted. We even feel His love and know He is with us in our trouble. So we are tempted to question our own faith.
Hebrews chapter 11 is the great faith chapter where are listed the heroes of our faith: Abel, Enoch, Abraham, Sarah, Moses – the list goes on. If you read to the end, however, you will find the chapter takes a distressing turn. Around verse 33, the writer mentions many who through faith shut the mouths of lions, conquered kingdoms, and escaped the edge of the sword but then, around verse 36, we find that some who exercised faith faced jeers, flogging, prison, torture, persecution, mistreatment and death. It ends with these words “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”
God has a plan. Jesus is no ordinary hero and if you choose to follow Him, you are not on an ordinary adventure. Sometimes you will not be rescued from your temporary predicament. Some of us through faith will be healed, will overcome obstacles, will triumph over death on earth but some of us, through faith, will remain sick, will remain impoverished, will die.
Are you still unrescued? Take heart. He loves you as dearly as He loved John and Mary, Martha and Lazarus. You will arrive safe in the end but if He tarries to come, He has a greater goal in mind and you have been given a part in that. Stay strong and do not lose heart. He is no ordinary hero and you are not a child of ordinary faith.
Ultimately, we are in this, not for the payoff of the momentary rescue but for the greater prize – the building of a kingdom that will exceed all our expectations and include all who need to be rescued! Take heart, loved one. In a little while, He will come. “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.”( Rev. 22:20-21) Maranatha!
I once heard a sermon from a minister who was trying to please everyone (never a good idea). This minister was preaching about the resurrection of Jesus Christ and said “There is some controversy over whether or not Jesus ACTUALLY rose from the dead but in the end, it doesn’t really matter. All that matters is that we have ‘resurrection hope’ in our lives, that’s the real message of Easter.” What? Yeah, I don’t think so. Some helium filled “resurrection hope” balloon is not going to get this soul’s basket too far off the field. I need a real resurrection or I’m not playing.
I was born in the sixties and came up through the expose seventies and eighties. I’ve seen Kool-Aid cults, impeached presidents and Batman without the suit. I don’t follow blindly.
My karate instructor must actually be able to kick butt (He can!). My writing mentor must know how to write (Her Scottish Crown series is amazing). If I marry a guy he’d best be up for “until death do us part” (he is), and if I worship a guy, He’d better be able to walk on water.
So if Jesus didn’t come back from the dead, it all falls apart. He’s not a good teacher or a wise guide if he said He would rise again and then remained in the ground like every other prophet before him. That makes him deluded or deceitful and, no thank you, I won’t walk the straight and narrow for a crazy man or a liar.
There are many books written by worldly, once skeptical men that explore the facts and the arguments for believing the Bible and its account of Jesus’ life. One that is very readable is “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel who began as a reporter for the Chicago Tribune. Buy it. Read it.
But there are two simple defenses for the resurrection that fortify me every time.
First of all, in Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus, (that’s the whole list of men who begat other men), he makes mention of four women besides Mary, the mother of Jesus: Rahab (a prostitute), Tamar (who pretended to be a prostitute to trick her father-in-law into impregnating her), Ruth (a Moabitess – a non-Jew – a Gentile) and Bathsheba (who committed adultery with King David who subsequently had her Hittite husband, Uriah killed). Now anyone will tell you, that if you’re making a case that your guy is King of the Jews, you avoid mentioning that his family tree includes hookers, adulterers and Gentiles. It’s certainly not the lead story in your gospel. So Matthew’s genealogy is fairly strong evidence that the disciples didn’t just decide to invent a religion. Before turning apostle, Matthew was a tax collector – that’s a Jew who was in collusion with the Romans. This is guy who understood politics and spin. He’d never start a fake defense of his guy with such scandalous material unless it was the truth.
The disciples themselves are evidence that Jesus’ rose from the dead. Do you remember these guys in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus was arrested? First of all, they couldn’t stay awake with Him and support Him on a night when He was in agony. Second of all, when the law arrived, these guys were out of there – one even ran off without his clothes he was in such a hurry. They had seen Jesus heal people, raise them from the dead, walk on water and turn Dasani into Chianti. And yet, when the soldiers marched in, the disciples scurried out like rats on a sinking ship. End Act I
Fast forward to life after the resurrection. These same men are out preaching in the streets, taking blows and beatings rather than heeding the warnings to cease and desist and announcing Jesus Christ to Roman Guards and Jewish authorities without fear, without falter, without flinching in the face of certain death. Most of the twelve eventually were martyred themselves rather than renounce Christ (it is believed that John died a natural death in his old age). This is compelling evidence to me that Jesus actually walked out of that tomb alive. Men don’t change.
As comparison, the conspirators in the Watergate scandal fell apart with their stories in little over two weeks of pressure and they didn’t fear for their lives, just their livelihoods, jail time and finances. They turned on each other in a heartbeat and the whole thing unraveled like Grandma’s ball of yarn.
For men to change from ship rats to martyrs there had to be a catalyst – and there was. Jesus was dead on Friday and alive on Sunday. Alone in a tomb, wrapped in grave cloths, under heavy Roman guard, after having been beaten, crucified and speared in the side – he did not “revive” and force a massive piece of granite out of the way and overwhelm men with swords. No one hid his body and decided to start a false religion that would cost them their lives.
Jesus rose from the dead. Every human must deal with this historical fact. Jesus rose from the dead. You must deal with this fact. Jesus rose from the dead. I must deal with this fact. Jesus rose from the dead. This is our only resurrection hope – Jesus rose from the dead.
Don’t worship a guy just because he tells a good story and can do amazing tricks with fish and chips. But if He gets up out of His grave, OK, that’s the power of God.