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Changing the Mind of a Skeptic

16 Apr

Being a bit of a wordsmith, I am intrigued by the word of the year determined by the Oxford University Press. In 2012, it was omnishambles which means a situation of total disaster. In 2013, selfie referred to the phenomenon of taking pictures of yourself. 2014 introduced vape, inhaling the vapor produced by electronic cigarettes. In 2015, the word of the year was a picture, an emoji. In 2016, the word was post-truth, which built on the preponderance of fake news.

Fake news rose to the forefront during the 2016 US Presidential campaign. One website described five types of fake news: (1) News that is intentionally deceptive; (2) Jokes taken at face value; (3) Large-scale hoaxes; (4) Slanted reporting of facts; and (5) Stories where “truth” is contentious.

The sad thing is that many people are taken in by fake news. Oftentimes, they pass it on through social media without even checking the veracity of the stories. While countless people were taken in by these pranks, there are others who are reluctant to believe that Jesus rose from the dead on Easter morning. If we are so gullible to believe a compelling lie, why are we so skeptical of the truth?

If you find yourself among those who have a hard time believing in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, you are in good company. Luke 24:1-12 explains that even Jesus’ disciples had a hard time believing he rose from the dead. But the passage also demonstrates that the truth of the resurrection transforms skeptics into passionate witnesses.

The passage opens on Easter morning with several female disciples heading for the tomb where Jesus was buried (1). Rather than checking to see if the resurrection had taken place, they were there to properly bury the body. When they found the stone covering the entrance absent (2) and the body missing (3), they didn’t know what to make of the situation (4a).

To their surprise, two angelic messengers (4b) roused their attention with the shocking question, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here; but has risen!” (5-6). They went on to remind the women of what Jesus had taught them during the past three years (6). He would suffer and die and come back to life three days later (7). You could see the light bulbs go on in their heads as they recalled Jesus’ teaching (8).

The women left the tomb and raced back into Jerusalem to tell the other disciples (9-10). Rather than be overjoyed by the news, Jesus’ closest friends and followers were not convinced. In fact, they concluded that the women were delusion and out of their minds (11).

The fact that women were the first witnesses of the resurrection demonstrates the uniqueness of the gospel. In the culture of the day, women were considered unreliable. You would never build a case on the testimony of women. And yet, the gospel records that they were the first ones to believe the message that Jesus had risen from the dead.

Peter, at least, goes to investigate the report firsthand (12). Rather than be convinced by the empty grave clothes, he goes home even more perplexed. He is taking the first step on the road to faith, moving from disbelief to curiosity to wonder.

Dr. Luke’s account of the resurrection (Luke 24:1-12) can be summarized in six words—“Come and see … Go and tell!”

  • Read the Scriptures. 14 Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled on Good Friday alone.
  • Examine the evidence. Read the source material firsthand. Study the proofs of the resurrection.
  • Believe the testimony. Read the stories of those whose lives were transformed by the gospel.
  • Tell the story. Once you are convinced the story is true, share the message of hope with another person.

Christ is not dead; He is risen indeed!

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church on April 16, 2017. It is part of a collection of messages on Easter & Palm Sunday. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

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