Summary: We Christians have experienced great things and have great stories to tell...if only we’ll tell them!
Every year at the University of Chicago Divinity School, they have what is called "Baptist Day." On this one day, everyone brings a picnic lunch to be eaten outdoors in a grassy picnic area. The school would invite some great theological mind to lecture while the students and faculty ate their lunches.
One year they invited Dr. Paul Tillich, who spoke for two and one-half hours "proving" that the resurrection of Jesus was false. He quoted scholar after scholar and book after book. He concluded that since there was no such thing as the historical resurrection, the religious tradition of the church was groundless emotional mumbo-jumbo, because it was based on a relationship with a risen Jesus, who in fact, never rose from the dead in any literal sense. He then asked if there were any questions.
After about 30 seconds, an old, dark skinned preacher with a head of short-cropped, woolly white hair stood up in the back of the auditorium. "Docta Tillich, I got one question," he said as all eyes turned toward him. He reached into his sack lunch and pulled out an apple and began eating it.
"Docta Tillich"... CRUNCH, MUNCH... "My question is a simple question," CRUNCH, MUNCH. "Now, I ain’t never read them books you read..." CRUNCH, MUNCH...and I can’t recite the Scriptures in the original Greek"...CRUNCH, MUNCH ..." I don’t know nothin’ about Niebuhr and Heidegger"...CRUNCH, MUNCH... He finished the apple. "All I wanna know is: This apple I just ate - was it bitter or sweet?"
Dr. Tillich paused for a moment and answered in exemplary scholarly fashion: "I cannot possibly answer that question, for I haven’t tasted your apple."
The white-haired preacher dropped the core of his apple into his crumpled paper bag, looked up at Dr. Tillich and said calmly, "Neither have you tasted my Jesus."
The 1,000 plus in attendance could not contain them. The auditorium erupted with applause and cheers. Dr. Tillich thanked his audience and promptly left the platform.
Have you tasted Jesus? That is our question for this Sunday after Easter.
It is called, in the church calendar, “Low Sunday.” The questions for this Sunday after Easter are... "What now?" Where have we come from? Where are we going? Did Easter make any difference?
1 John was written for Low Sunday. It was written for the time after Easter when we begin to doubt what we know is true. People started to say, I wonder if he was only a spirit or a ghost or an apparition. So John wrote this first of three short letters to answer one question, “Is he real?”
He uses three arguments summed up in the third verse; 3We saw it, we heard it, and now we’re telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ.
From the very first day, we were there, taking it all in—we heard it with our own ears, saw it with our own eyes, and verified it with our own hands. The Word of Life appeared right before our eyes; we saw it happen! And now we’re telling you in most sober prose that what we witnessed was, incredibly, this: The infinite Life of God himself took shape before us.
We saw it…
It’s not as easy as it might sound. After 36 years of darkness, a blind man can see again.
Jerry had to see it to believe it. Or, more accurately, he had to be able to see WITH it to believe it.
Dr. William Dobelle created the innovative device after 30 years of research in vision correction for the blind. The invention includes a mini-camera connected to a pair of sunglasses and a dictionary-size computer that a patient carries on a belt pack.
But getting the device to work was no easy task. First, Jerry had to undergo brain surgery. Surgeons implanted a small piece of platinum foil between Jerry’s brain and the dura, a membrane that surrounds the brain. The foil is covered with electrodes - tiny metal pieces that conduct electric pulses which connect directly to brain cells that control sight. The electrodes are attached to a wire that protrudes from Jerry’s skull through a small hole and hooks up to his computer.
No one ever said that restoring vision was going to be a pretty sight.
For Jerry to see an image, the camera on his sunglasses first snaps a picture. This image shoots through a wire to his portable computer, which translates the data into a series of electrical pulses. The pulses then race through the wire connected to Jerry’s brain. Finally, the electrodes stimulate his brain cells into thinking they’re seeing.
"Each electrode produces dots of light in the patient’s visual field, like stars in the sky," says Dr. Dobelle. "It makes the world look like a photo negative."