Did it really happen?
I was a Boy Scout. On a camping trip, as an 11 or 12 year old, I was given a hatchet and with it I could split some wood for a fire. Cool! But as I stood back and tried to split a piece it wouldn’t stand up. So I grabbed it with my right hand and brought down the hatchet with my left. As it hit the top of the unsplittable piece of wood it bounced off and came across my right hand. I got a nasty cut.
How do you know I’m not lying? Making up a cool story like that?
For one, hopefully my reputation is good enough that you’d say, sure, I believe you Bruce. Especially seeing that whether or not the story is true has no bearing on my life, sure.
But what if I could show you a scar on my right hand that has stayed with me all those years? Would that help?
The historical evidence is clear. Jesus is alive after being dead. Verifiably dead, verifiably alive. Risen to life and the Savior of all mankind who believe.
Did it really happen?
The Bible tells us the story of people discovering, on the third day after Jesus’ crucifixion and death, that the tomb He was placed in as a dead body, packed with about 100 lbs of spices (think embalming) and wrapped with a death shroud, that tomb was now empty, nothing in there but the shroud and head piece and an angel that said He’s not here.
Can you back that up?
Yes. Because Jesus appeared to people over a period of 40 days and talked, ate, and showed His scars. Yes, people wrote down what they were first hand witnesses to.
But was that all there was?
No. There was so much more.
Fast forward to all the folks who became followers of Jesus. Not just a couple. Thousands at first. After Jesus ascended into Heaven via the clouds.
One of those followers was a guy named Stephen. He was a man who showed all the signs of leadership, was full of the Holy Spirit and had a servant’s heart.
He was also out preaching and ministering to people.
Acts 6.8,9, 12
“And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.
Then there arose some from what is called the Synagogue of the Freedmen (Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and those from Cilicia and Asia), disputing with Stephen.
And they stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes; and they came upon him, seized him, and brought him to the council.
When he was taken there, he was given the opportunity to defend himself. So he preached. And preached. And preached. And finally he came to the main point of the message.
“You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.” When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into Heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”
So they forced him out of the city and began to stone him.
And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
Who won this battle? Stephen.
Why did he need to die? Well, better, what does it mean that he kept preaching true but unpopular, words in the face of such a reaction?
It’s because he believed, with everything he had, that what he was saying was true. That Jesus Christ is the risen Savior and Lord.
So what does this mean to you?
If it’s true – you have an avenue and an obligation.
An avenue in front of you, a path to walk toward and with Jesus. And an obligation. Because if He is Whom He said He was, demonstrated He was, then you will see Him. Either His return or your life’s end. That puts an obligation on you to either run to Him now or to refuse and harden your heart in unbelief.
And you know how far you’ve gotten without Him. Broken. Carrying weights you weren’t designed to carry.
Oh yes, He’s alive. Right now, always.