Episode 1. A Crazy Morning
So what was it like that first Easter morning. He’s alive. Is He? I don’t know. The others say they’ve seen Him. Hmm. What do you think?
Join Berni as he takes a look at that first chaotic Easter morning – from A Different Perspective.
So what was it like that first Easter morning? He’s alive. Is He? I don’t know. The others say they’ve seen Him. Hmm. What do you think?
Let me paint you a picture. Just the other day, someone that you loved passed away. You really admired and trusted this person. I mean, you’d seen him in operation and now they’re gone! It’s a shock! It shouldn’t have happened! They’re so young and so full of promise … had a future. And now, that person is gone. Take some time to come to grasp to that – the shock and the sadness, and the deep sense of loss and even anger.
We go through so many stages in that grieving process. You wake up with a dull ache in your head. What is that about? And then, you remember your loss. The phone rings. It’s a friend, they are ranting and raving … the person who is dead … what are they saying? He is alive again? Wait! Hang on a minute … what sort of crackpot, what is going on? Is this a sick joke?
But your friend is adamant, he is alive! I mean it’s an incredible claim … it’s incredulous … it’s mad … it’s sick – there are a lot of words to describe it. You saw him die with your own eyes – arrested, crucified, buried, definitely, very definitely dead!
In one sense, you know, it’s almost easier to believe if you read it in the Bible. It happened 2000 years ago, it was Jesus. It’s long enough ago to make it safe … you know what I mean, when you could almost sort of half believe it and half see it as a fable and go, “well yeah, okay, I believe it! It happened back then. Sure, God can do anything. I mean God did that sort of things back then. Well, it’s 2000 years ago.”
Question: If you believe that Jesus rose from the dead again, just transpose that into today, here and now. That phone call comes, “Jesus is alive”. Come on, tomorrow morning, you get that phone call in the morning, is it possible?
Let’s put ourselves back in the shoes of these disciples, right there in that place, in Jerusalem, with the Jesus that they knew. Do you get it? It’s a lot harder to believe when it’s close. It was a bit like that for Mary Magdalene. She went down to the tomb on that morning we call Easter Sunday, to embalm the body of Jesus. They had herbs and spices and they were going to embalm Him. Sunset Friday and all day Saturday was the Jewish Sabbath. That means they weren’t allowed to work and they couldn’t embalm Him, so they went down on the Sunday morning:
But Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept she bent over to look into the tomb and she saw two angels in white seated where Jesus body had been – one at the head and the other at the foot – and they said to her, “Woman, what’s the matter, why are you crying?” “They’ve taken Jesus away; my Lord, they’ve taken Him away”, she said, “and I don’t know where they’ve put Him.
At this she turned around and she saw Jesus standing there but she didn’t realise it was Him. “Woman,” He said, “why are you crying? Who is it that you are looking for?” Thinking it was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried Jesus away, tell me where you have put Him and I’ll go and get Him?” And Jesus said to her, “Mary,” and she turned toward Him and cried, in Aramaic “Rabboni” – which means ‘teacher’.
Jesus said, “Do not hold onto me for I have not yet returned to my Father. Go, instead, to my brothers and tell them, “Jesus is returning to His Father and your Father and to my God and your God.” And Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news, “I’ve seen the Lord; I’ve seen Jesus,” and she told them that He had said these things to her.
She wasn’t the only one having problems; I think you and I would have had problems with it all. And after that Jesus appeared to His disciples, all of them that is, except Thomas; he wasn’t there that day. Now Thomas was one of the twelve, he wasn’t with the other disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, “We’ve seen Him; we’ve seen the Lord,” but he said to them, “Look, I’m sorry, unless I see the nail marks in His hands and I put my finger where the nails were and put my hand into His side where they pierced Him, I sorry, I just won’t believe it.
A week later, Jesus’ disciples were in that house again and Thomas was with them this time, and even though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Shalom, peace be with you.” And then He said to Thomas, “Tom, come here. Put your finger in here, see my hands? Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” And Thomas said to Him, “My Lord and my God.” And then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you’ve believed, but blessed are those who haven’t seen me and yet have believed.”
I don’t know, I think I’m with Thomas. I can imagine the phone call and someone saying to me, “Jesus is alive,” and I saw Him go to the electric chair the other night and I think, “this is just too much”. It’s hard to believe when you’re close to it. Can I ask you, what do you believe? Maybe it’s an uncomfortable question?
It’s easy to consign this whole “resurrection of Jesus” thing to the past, but, kind of like a fable to which we give some moderate level of logical, in-cognitive assent – kind of a vague half-belief, insurance policy thing. The apostle Paul takes it pretty seriously. In Romans chapter 10 verse 9, he says:
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and you believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you’ll be saved.
And First Corinthians 15:17:
If Christ has not been raised from the dead, then your faith is futile.
For Paul, the resurrection wasn‘t some optional extra; it wasn’t some distant myth, it wasn’t something that we could kind of half believe. Historians agree that Jesus was a real historical figure. I mean there’s no serious historian who doubts that. They agree He was killed, the question is, was He raised again from the dead? Paul said:
Believe in your heart, that God raised Him from the dead, you’ll be saved, and if you don’t, you’re wasting your time.
We are going to have a bit of a look throughout the week on the program, as to why we should believe that, but today I just want to ask you really simply – what do you believe? The resurrection can seem, really, I don’t know, incongruous amidst the day to day realities of life; the things that we all face.
I mean, I still do some IT consulting work, it’s my professional background. I travel into the city and work up on the thirty eighth floor, looking down over this great city and deal with managers and lawyers and important people and we talk about this and talk about that. You stick the resurrection of Jesus Christ right into the middle of that day-to-day reality and you ask me, “Berni, in the middle of all this, do you actually believe this stuff? Do you believe that this Jesus was raised from the dead? I mean, come on Berni, it’s incongruous, it’s an outrageous notion, it just doesn’t fit. Do you still believe this stuff?” And my answer to you is, “Absolutely!”
With every fiber of my being; in my heart, I believe that Jesus Christ was crucified, that He died and that He rose again so that we might have eternal life. I believe with my heart – that’s me – what about you?