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The one who saw it has testified to this, and his testimony is true. He knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe (John 19:35).
Harold Ellens in his book A Dangerous Report narrates an incident. Once, I had lunch with a Jewish friend of mine who has converted to Christianity. He asked me, “Do you believe in the resurrection?” I replied that I did, indeed. “I believe Peter’s and Paul’s testimony that Jesus rose from the dead. From the eternity side of death he manifested himself to the disciples. They saw him. They spoke with him and he confirmed in their hearts the truth for which he had stood.” My friend said, “You know, that is why I too converted to Christianity. It was the resurrection. I believe in the resurrection. Those cowardly little fellows, the disciples of Jesus, became the heroes of the faith. Nothing can effect that kind of change except the kind of story we have in the resurrection.”
The disciples of Jesus saw the risen Lord and it changed their lives. Thus Easter invites us to the appropriate celebration of its outcome with transformed lives. The Acts of the Apostles says that it was the mission of the disciples to proclaim the gospel of the resurrection. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
It is mentioned by many preachers that it is much easier to proclaim the gospel of the cross. There you have hard data and you have a person who was willing to lay down his life for others. There is an easy to believe story in that, but it is interesting that it was not that gospel that motivated the disciples to go to the ends of the world preaching Christ. The Acts of the Apostles says they went proclaiming the gospel of the resurrection. “And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless” (1 Corinthians 15:17).
The most amazing, the most mysterious, the most unbelievable idea! However, it caught hold of human hearts and minds everywhere. By the end of the first century there were three million Christians in the Mediterranean Basin, and by the end of the third century there were ten million. By the beginning of the fourth century the church become the dominant force in the Roman Empire, the crown of that mighty domain. That was a product of preaching the gospel of the resurrection.
It was not about the pathos of a pageant of death but about the power of a perpetual presence that changed their lives. “Remember, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). It produced a brand new world, and it has changed our lives. From Good Friday to Easter morning the disciples had been hiding behind the closed doors in an upper room. They were bound by fear and shame. After Easter morning they became instead aggressive advocates of the new way for all humans which lead to eternal life. Those disciples who had been cowardly hiding marched boldly into the presence of the authorities and testified to the truth of Christ at the risk of their lives.
We do not need the how, the where, the why, and the what of Easter Day. It happened. They saw it. It changed their lives and the world. They saw him. That is, they saw the risen Jesus, tangible, real, and overpowering. Through Him they saw the larger vision of a world full of joy and hope. They knew his story had not ended at the cross. They were experiencing the fact that human stories was continuing with a whole new and fresh meaning of eternal life. Let us join them. Being people of resurrection, let us live out that new kind of hope that Jesus brought to us.
There is more to the story. The evidence for the living Christ is living Christians.