I haven’t fished since I was a kid, but my boy Josiah was excited about trying to catch something. He actually caught a few small ones and tossed ‘em back in. And then he caught a keeper: an 18 ½ inch trout!
After the fish was cleaned, Joey brought it into the house and set it on the counter – and he about jumped out of his skin when the fish flopped and twitched again. He shouted, “Dad! That fish doesn’t know it’s dead!”
Now, we all know that dead is dead. The idea that a person or an animal could die and then come back to life – it’s the stuff of fantasy or sci-fi, fables and fairy tales.
And yet … the defining truth of Christianity is that Jesus returned to life three days after He was killed. Given the rarity of this kind of thing in our world, it shouldn’t be a surprise that many find His resurrection hard to believe.
This blog entry will not attempt be a definitive “here’s proof of Jesus’ resurrection” – that can be found elsewhere. Here’s what I’m interested in today: how did Jesus’ followers change – overnight – from cowering, terrified deserters into confident, bold and effective leaders? Willing to stand before all and proclaim Jesus is alive, and that He is God – and ready to die rather than recant?
Shortly after Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension to Heaven, the Apostles and a few others were suddenly filled with the Holy Spirit and began to miraculously speak in other languages. Since it was the Day of Pentecost, there were people in Jerusalem from all over the world, and they could hear Peter and the others speaking in their own languages. It was such a crazy thing that some were saying that the Apostles must be drunk or something. Then Peter stood before them and gave one of the most powerful speeches ever made.
Remember – not long before, Peter was cowering in fear, having denied that he even KNEW Jesus!
First he says “no, we’re not drunk.” And then:
22 “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know— 23 this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. 24 But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power. (skipping v 25-31)
32 This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. 33 Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. (skipping v 34-35)
36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.” 37 Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” 38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (skipping v 40 and 41)
41 So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. 42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Their lives were completely transformed, and not because they decided to start a new religion that would make ‘em all rich. Not because they thought they could manipulate their way into positions of power and influence.
They had seen Jesus DEAD. And then they saw Him ALIVE. And everything He taught them was validated. The disciples knew the truth, and that truth changed everything.
So in spite of the fact we know “dead is dead,” we are confident that Jesus is alive.
And that changes everything.