Summary: Our Easter joy is not always immediate. It certainly wasn't immediate for Jesus' first disciples either. Even the empty tomb and the angel's proclamation left them bewildered. It was in remembering Jesus' own words that the Spirit brought them to faith.
“Why Believe the Good News of Easter,” Luke 24:1-12, Easter Sunday, March 27, 2016
Brothers and sisters, you probably know that this coming Friday is “April Fools’ Day;” a day that is always celebrated every year on the first day of April. It’s a day, when many Americans are expected to play some practical jokes on one another.
It is also a day when some Americans concoct some “pretty tall tales” to be sure. It’s a day when those blessed with the skillful art of telling a story will eventually have their victims sitting right there on the very edge of their seats, right there where they want them! That’s when they then expose their own pranks – by calling out loud: “April Fool’s Day, Gotcha!”
But I am standing up here this morning to tell you that the “Good News of Easter” that we are celebrating today with millions of other Christians worldwide—is no “April Fool’s Day” story!
Every year I find myself confronted with the same question: “Why do I believe the good news of Easter?” And the best answer I can come up with is—because this belief, this faith, is God’s greatest gift that he, by his grace, has ever given to me!” Today is a day when I have to give 100% of the credit for my faith to the powerful ministry of God the Holy Spirit! For as St. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12:3, “No one can say that Jesus Christ is Lord, but by the Holy Spirit!”
Furthermore, let me tell you that trying to “prove” the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is like trying to prove the existence of God! The truth of Easter, like the truth of the Creator, is not arrived at, achieved or deduced through experiments. Belief in the resurrection is an enterprise of faith. And true faith is always an act of remembering.
One thing we all know for sure, is that something absolutely LIFE-CHANGING, something of MOMENTOUS PROPORTIONS happened in the lives of Jesus’ first disciples that transformed them completely—that converted them from being the kind of cowardly, frightened, timid followers they were at the time of Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion, into the courageous advocates of the Word of God that they became later, risking life and limb for Jesus, as their lives’ stories are rolled out before us in the Book of Acts!
Have you ever stopped to think that some of the biggest arguments against the reality of our Savior’s glorious resurrection would require more faith to believe that the good news we are celebrating today?
How would you respond to the contention of some—that Jesus’ first disciples were only hallucinating, when they thought they were seeing him alive that Easter day in his resurrected and glorified body?
The problem here is that hallucinations never happen to groups of people all at once! Besides this, St. Paul tells us in First Corinthians, that he was able to produce 500 people who had seen Jesus gloriously alive and back from the dead!