Did you know that this year, 2018, the world will be celebrating both April Fools Day and The Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (Easter)! That's right they both fall on the same day this year.
The irony of these two events falling on the same date cannot be overstated! On the one hand you have a world that says death cannot be cheated, cannot be avoided and is final. While on the other hand you have the Christians Biblical belief that Jesus Christ did die on the cross, was buried in a tomb and on the third day came back to life again. April 1, 2018 is a date where these two completely world views will collide and are in total opposition to each other.
One world view says that to be raised from the dead, after being dead for three days, is totally impossible, while the other says it is not only possible but actually did happen and has tremendous ramifications for all the rest of us who have ever been born throughout world history.
The world believes it is totally impossible because that's all the world has ever known. Every single person who has ever lived has died and every single person who has died for 3 days or longer has stayed dead, accept for those crazy claims of the Bible of Jesus and those he supposedly raised from the dead. All of life's experiences demands, for those in the world, that the claims of Christ's resurrection is a fairy tale and cannot be trusted. They believe that Christians hold to a "Blind Faith" which is unreason or irrational.
But for those of us who are Followers of Christ and do believe in Christ's Resurrection from the dead our faith is far from that "Blind Faith"! No! Instead, it is a faith based upon "Evidence Beyond Reasonable Doubt".
Yes, the belief in Jesus death, burial and resurrection is based upon eye witness evidence that's reasonable. There are people, who lived during the time of Christ's resurrection, who have claim and gone on record to have seen Jesus after his crucification alive and well. They made it very clear their experience wasn't some kind of hallucination. They claimed to have walked with him, talked him, ate with him and touched him. They claimed it to be a life altering experience that took them from fear, including the fear of death, to a life filled with boldness regardless of the life circumstance that was confronting them.
Who were these eye witness? The Bible clearly shares the identity of those eye witnesses. They weren't trying to stay in the shadows. They were open and upfront for everyone to hear. 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 reveals who they are:
"3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, [b]and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born."
Who were these eye witnesses?
First, there is the 500 who saw him! He doesn't specifically list their names because there are just to many to list. But he does say that most were still alive to the very date of the writing. Why indicate that most were still alive? Because, Paul was challenging them to go to Palestine and check it out for themselves. They could go around and ask if anyone had seen Christ resurrected and the chances were that they'd still find many who would say, "I did"!
But among those 500 we know that they would have included the women who gone to the tomb and found it empty and then saw Jesus alive. In Luke 24:10 we read,
"Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, .."
Here we see 3 specific names of women identified who saw the resurrection of Christ. They were Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Mary the mother of James but there were also other women there as well.
Second, Jesus showed himself to the apostles and James, Jesus' half brother. Many in the world believe that the Apostle would have lied about Jesus resurrection. They believe that the apostles knew that Jesus was dead but wanted to keep the movement alive and therefore fabricated the story of His resurrection.
But is that really logical. Would someone really lie about something they knew to be a lie? Yes, if they had something to gain like: power, prestige or money. But the apostle got none of those things. As a matter of fact they lived like poor people and eventually were beaten and killed for their testimony of seeing Jesus alive. They gained nothing if it was a lie.
Surely at least one of them upon the sentence of death would have recanted their testimony if it had been a lie! But not one ever recanted or changed their story but instead every apostle lived and died in the most horrible way because of their refusal to recant their story. They were to die for their testimony of Christ's resurrection. Why would anybody do that unless they knew it to be the truth!
Next, there was the eye witness account of the Apostle Paul. Paul wasn't part of the original apostles as a matter of fact he was a Christian hater who wanted nothing more than to arrest and kill all who claimed to be a Follower of Christ and testified of His resurrection. For awhile there, that was his total life's mission.
But something happened that changed Paul! He went from being a Christian hater and killer to the greatest Christian missionary ever! He ended up with a new life's mission! Instead of putting Christians into prison, he made it his life's ambition to make as many people Christians as possible by believing in Christ's death, burial and resurrection.
What made the change? How did Paul go from being a Christian hater to a Christian maker? Paul's very own testimony gives us the answer. We find Paul's answer in Acts 26 where he states clearly why he is now a follower of Christ. He says it is because while on the road to Damascus that Jesus appeared to him and spoke to him. It was the resurrected Jesus speaking to him that changed him. That was his life changing experience.
Now as I contemplate these eye witnesses I am forced to evaluate how credible they are about what they confess. And I have come to the following conclusion! They are ALL extremely reliable! Why:
- Because the original apostles gained nothing in this world and lost everything including their lives for their testimony that they saw the resurrected Christ. It is unreasonable to believe that someone would maintain a lie when all they got was pain, suffering and death. It is even more harder to believe all the apostle would maintain that lie under such circumstances. And yet, that's exactly what happened: every single one of them maintained their testimony and never recanted. They all died for their testimony for seeing Christ resurrected. That makes them very compelling and credible witnesses.
- Because Paul himself said that his life change was a direct result of his encounter with the resurrected Christ. He stopped being a Christian hater and killer to become a Christian maker because he encounter the living Christ. THAT'S WHAT PAUL SAID! This changed of heart only brought pain and suffering and eventually was beheaded for his testimony of seeing the resurrected Christ. He gained nothing from this change in life but lost everything he was working for because of it. This makes Paul one of the greatest and most credible eye witnesses.
- The sheer number of eye witnesses, over 500, make the resurrection of Christ irrefutable.
Yes, this Sunday, April 1st, 2018 is both the day we celebrate the resurrection of Christ (Easter) and April Fools Day. But don't be the fool by believing that Jesus is still dead. He's not! He's Alive! And by placing your faith in the resurrect Jesus you can be saved from your sins and receive the gift of eternal life. Will you do it today?