Summary: Fake news needs to be confonted with the "true truth" of God's Word. Central to this is the bodily resurrection of the dead.
This is Not Fake News!
The world today is suffering from an epidemic of “fake news” today. Fake news is the product of post-modern thinking in which each individuals interpretation is equally valid. Therefore, “fake news” can be found all over social media. There was fake new in the past. I can remember reading my mother’s copies of the National enquirer forty years ago. It had stories like “57 year-old mother gives birth to space alien twins” the old storyteller and his yarns are an older form of “fake news”. But everyone knew that it was fake. We would chuckle and go on. We knew we were being humbugged.
This is not the case today. Serious and thoughtful journalism has been replaced by propaganda because they are owned by the elite who have political opinions. It used to be that there was at least an appearance of propriety and balance. But now it is no more than buffoonery. Even the National Enquirer is more likely to be believed.
I would suppose that the definition of fake news in this Postmodern world is any interpretation of events which differs from mine. The purpose of this slanted news is to deceive and poison the minds of the hearers. Fake new leads to division and disunity. Trust breaks down, and hate and intolerance increases. When we hear an opposing viewpoint, we stuff our ears with our fingers and go off in a mad rush. Of course this isn’t new. This is what those at Stephen’s trial did when they rushed out to stone him.
In this morning’s text, we see Paul dealing with “fake news” in the church. Even though the church in Corinth had a lot of behavioral problems and divisions which Paul had to deal with, he seems to have saved chapter 15 until last because it was the most serious of them. A fake news report was circulating that there was no resurrection of the dead. As some of the believers a Corinth had already died, this stirred up great unrest in the church. The rising of this fake news was easy enough to understand. It was widely held in Greek society that the body was evil and the spirit and reason was good. Death meant that the soul was no longer imprisoned in the body and would return and reunite with the great spirit. So the idea of a bodily resurrection seemed scandalous to most of them.
Paul confronts this fake news with the true truth of God. He addresses this directly and clearly. He does this first by affirming the bodily resurrection. The New Testament also proclaims this. Jesus made Himself physically known to witnesses. They touched Him, heard Him, saw Him, ate and drank with them. This is the contribution of the gospels. To this Paul adds that Jesus appeared alive to many witnesses over a period of time. He appeared to Peter and the disciples. James, and even 500 people at once. They all saw and heard Him. And many were still alive and could be asked.
In reality, when we piece all of the evidence for the resurrection, it is very convincing. The tomb was empty. The Jews could have ended the movement right away by presenting the body of Jesus. The claim that the body was stolen from under the noses of Roman soldiers while they took the time and care to unwrap the bandages and fold the headpiece is incredulous. They would have taken the body, wrapping and all and unwound the clotted cloth in a safe place. The disciples who ran and were hiding in cowardly fear became emboldened and later preached publicly in the Temple when their own lives were in danger to do so. The sheer number of witnesses was such that it wasn’t the physiological delusion of a few overwrought with grief for their abandoning Jesus. The fact that women who could not testify in court were the first witnesses of the resurrection. The mention of Paul here of the resurrection accounts in such a short time after the event means that it wasn’t a legend created by the church in the second or third century. Paul adds his own conversion as the final witness to the truth, a man who persecuted the church to the death. The Holy Spirit also confirms the resurrection in believers. Signs and wonders followed the Apostles. What more evidence could be presented about the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The “true news” of Jesus has implications. What does that mean for us. Well Paul in a similar situation in Thessalonica tells us the dead in Christ have not perished. It presents the promise of our resurrection. Jesus who was raised on the feast day of Firstfruits is the guarantee of our resurrection.