Pastor’s Article – May 2022 Tower Chimes
On the day after Easter, a spring snow storm came through much of lower Michigan. I texted a photo to my parents, who are still in California, with the message, “See what you’re missing?” to which they texted back, “Seriously?” accompanied by a giant crying face emoji.
On that first Easter, the women who discovered that Jesus’ tomb was empty received a ‘Seriously?’ response when they reported their finding to the men. According to Luke, “when they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense” (Luke 24:9, 11). Because we’re so familiar with this story, and it seems so obvious to us what happened, there’s a tendency on our part to quietly chastise the disciples for not immediately believing that Jesus was alive, as the women reported it. But, come on, who can blame them for doubting or being confused that a man had seemingly brought himself back from dead?
Consider a similar situation of a couple of other disciples. Shortly after the crucifixion, they were out walking along a road when Jesus discreetly walked up to them and joined the conversation. They came face-to-face with the risen Lord and still they didn’t recognize him! How many of us have read this story and responded, Seriously? You saw him with your own eyes! How could you not recognize him? But think about it. If any of us personally witnessed the execution of someone we knew and had seen how mutilated the body had become from the torture, and then a few days later ran into a living person who displayed no evidence of being physically wounded, who among us would ever consider the possibility that these were one and the same person, even if they looked or sounded the same? Even if we consciously thought to ourselves, “This is really weird. That guy looks and sounds just like Jesus,” I think our brains would override our eyes and ears, and we’d convince ourselves that this isn’t real; I’m just seeing things.
Beholding and believing the truth is a fascinating phenomenon. We know from personal experience that just because someone says something is true doesn’t always mean it’s true. Nor does saying something is true, make it true. Likewise, seeing something with our own eyes doesn’t always mean what we’re seeing is “true.” Just consider how easily we’re fooled by gifted magicians, even when we see what they’re doing with our own eyes.
And yet, what’s the most effective way of communicating the truth of Jesus Christ to another person so that they come to know and believe it? It’s through telling the story and being a living example which others can see/perceive. Being able to say why we believe Jesus is alive and how our lives are better because of Christ is an important call upon every believer. If an unbelieving friend unexpectedly asked you, “Why do you believe in and follow Jesus?” do you have any idea what you’d tell them? Likewise, if an unbelieving friend was informed that you are a Christ-follower, based on their experience of you, how might they respond—”Yeah, I can see that!” or… “Seriously?”
When it comes to convincing someone of the truth of Jesus Christ, the good news is that’s not our responsibility! That responsibility falls on the shoulders of the Holy Spirit. What we’re responsible for is #1) being able to verbally share our personal Jesus-story; to be able to tell another person the difference being a Christ-follower has made in our own life; and #2) intentionally ordering our lives so that how we talk, the manner in which we interact with others, the choices we make, the stands we take, etc., aligns as much as possible with #1 so that there’s integrity in our words and our actions. If we can do those two things, then the Holy Spirit has something to work with! He can and will use us to bear witness to the truth of Jesus Christ, and others will come to know and believe, just as we do. Remember, all the doubting disciples I mentioned earlier eventually came to know and believe the truth that Jesus was in fact alive. God can use us to accomplish the same thing today. God can, and he will, if we’re willing to do our part!