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Easter Sunday, Day of Surprise!

Article copyright by Bob Rogers.

Many people who doubt the truth of Jesus’ resurrection say something like this: “People in the first century were superstitious, simple-minded people, and they were much more likely to believe in a resurrection than modern people are today. So, probably something else happened, and they just wanted so badly for Jesus to live that they convinced themselves that Jesus was raised.”

But when we read the Gospels, a totally different picture appears. The early disciples were just as surprised then as we would be now.

The Gospel of Mark could hardly have used more words to describe ow surprised they were. Mark 16:5 says they were “alarmed.” The angel calmed them by saying, “Don’t be alarmed… You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here.”

Mark 16:8 says, “Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.”

“Alarmed.” “Trembling.” “Bewildered.” “Afraid.” Mark was letting us know that they were totally surprised by the resurrection. They never expected it. Jesus had plainly told them he would be raised (see Mark 8:31-32; 9:30-32; 10:32-34), but they reacted to those predictions with fear and disbelief, just as people would today. Yet it really happened!

And because it happened, world history is changed. Time is divided from B.C. to A.D., because of Jesus. Within five weeks, 10,000 Jews in Jerusalem were following Jesus, and within 300 years, the Roman Empire came under the sway of Christianity.

Best of all, because of Jesus’ resurrection, we don’t have to escape reality, we can face reality! So many people try to escape their painful lives by diversions and entertainment. But Jesus’ resurrection changes all that. The sick man doesn’t have to transport himself into the imaginary world of a basketball star who slam dunks the ball; the sick man knows that in Christ, one day he will walk on streets of gold! The unloved woman does not have to escape into a world of romance novels to imagine love; one day because of her faith in Christ, she will be in a place where everybody loves her and accepts her, and she will see the One who died and arose to save her.

Surprise! Surprise! Easter is not a myth at all. It really happened, and because it happened, we can face reality.

Easter Sunday, the day of surprise!

Copyright 2012 by Bob Rogers

Many people who doubt the truth of Jesus’ resurrection say something like this: “People in the first century were superstitious, simple-minded people, and they were much more likely to believe in a resurrection than modern people are today. So probably something else happened, and they just wanted so badly for Jesus to live that they convinced themselves, maybe even had a hallucination that Jesus was raised from the dead.” (Never mind that many different people testified to seeing Him alive, even 500 at once, and mass crowds do not have hallucinations.) But when we read the gospels, a totally different picture appears. The early disciples were just as surprised then as we would be now.
Mark could hardly have used more words to describe how surprised they were. Mark 16:5 says they were “alarmed.” The word means to be both amazed and alarmed. The angel calmed them by saying, “Don’t be alarmed… You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here.”
Mark 16:8 says, “Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.”
“Alarmed.” “Bewildered.” “Afraid.” Mark is letting us know that they were totally surprised by the resurrection.
Celsus, a Greek philosopher who lived in the second century A.D., was hostile to Christianity and wrote books arguing against Christianity. Listen to what Celsus considered to be his strongest argument against the resurrection. He said that the written accounts of the resurrection are based on the testimony of women—and we all know that women are hysterical. Many of Celsus’s readers agreed. It was a major problem in ancient societies, because women were looked down upon; they didn’t give much credibility to a woman’s testimony.
Timothy Keller points out that if Mark was making up these stories, he would never have written that women were the first eyewitnesses. Yet we read in Mark 16:1 that it was Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome who brought spices to anoint Jesus’ body. No men came, despite all that Jesus had said about rising on the third day. And even the women were not expecting a resurrection; they just wanted to give Him a proper Jewish burial. The only reason Mark would write this, that no men were there to first learn of the resurrection, is because that’s exactly what happened.
It completely surprised the first disciples. They never expected it. Yet it really happened.
And because it happened, world history is changed. Time is divided from B.C. to A.D. because of Jesus. Within five weeks, 10,000 Jews in Jerusalem were following Jesus, and within 300 years, the Roman empire came under the sway of Christianity.
Best of all, because of Jesus’ resurrection, we don’t have to escape reality, we can face reality! So many people try to escape their painful lives by diversions and entertainment. But Jesus’ resurrection changes all that. The sick man doesn’t have to transport himself into the imaginary world of a basketball star who slam dunks the ball; the sick man knows that in Christ, one day he will walk on streets of gold! The unloved woman does not have to escape into a world of romance novels; one day because of her faith in Christ she will be in a place where everybody loves and accepts her, and she will see the One who died to save her.
Surprise! Surprise! Easter is not a myth at all. It really happened, and because it happened, we can face reality.

When the pastor found out that Pearly felt just peachy

Sometimes a pastor feels awkward when he is called upon to visit somebody he does not know in the hospital, but it is really embarrassing when he visits somebody that he does know but he does not recognize! That happened to me recently. Let me explain– and I will change the names to protect the innocent.

Our church office received a request to visit Pearly Precious (obviously not her real name!), who was having knee surgery. It was the hospital visitation day of our associate pastor, so he went to make the visit, but the family had left and Pearly was in surgery, so he left his card and departed. I called later and got Pearly’s room and talked to her daughter, who thanked me for calling, and told me she was recovering well from the knee surgery. A couple days later, I was in town, so I went to the hospital to visit.
I knocked on the door, which had her last name, “Precious,” on the door, but when I entered the room, I did not recognize the patient! Confused, I introduced myself, and started to excuse myself, when the daughter said that she remembered talking to me on the phone and thanked me for coming. I looked at Mrs. Pearly, and said, “Sorry I didn’t recognize you at first– your hair is shorter.” After a long pause, the daughter said, “Now tell me, what connection does our family have to your church?”
I said, “Uh, I came to visit Pearly Precious.”
They said, “This is Pearly Precious.”
I said, “I have a Pearly Precious who is a member of First Baptist Church in Rincon.”
They said, “She’s a member of Woodlawn Baptist Church in Baxley.”
That’s when we realized the mix-up. There were two women with the same name! So I just went ahead and prayed with the other Pearly and left to call the house of my Pearly. She answered the phone, and I asked how she was doing. She said, “Just fine.” When I told he what happened, she said, “I haven’t been in the hospital in years. But that explains why somebody called and asked about my surgery!”
Psalm 138:8 (HCSB) says, “The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me.” If I was a pagan, I would think my perchance visit was purposeless. But the Precious family from Baxley was pleased to have a pastor pray with them, and the Precious family from Rincon was proud that their Pearly felt just peachy. Yes, God has a plan and a purpose for all people, even pastors and patients who don’t plan to pray together. What plan do you perceive He has for you?

(Copyright 2011 by Bob Rogers.)