Today, some event occurs in the world someplace, which only a few people actually saw. The television reporters go to them to get all of the information that they can. A typical news report goes something like this, … “A Sports Utility Vehicle heading south on I-39 overturned this afternoon in the high winds. The truck caught on fire and killed the driver and his passenger. Witnesses say that the SUV was travelling at very high speeds, then began to swerve, before it flipped over and rolled a few times, and immediately caught fire. Lisa Abramson is on the scene. Lisa? ….” Another one might go like this, … “A man and his 6 year old daughter were found dead in their house this morning. Witnesses say that they heard gunshots in the home about 6:30 in the morning and saw a man in dark clothes flee the scene of the crime in a pick-up truck. Ted Franks has the story….” The testimony of witnesses is so important in news broadcasts today, that one particular network calls it’s news, “Eye-witness News.”

The apostles were no different. They considered themselves as giving straight-forward, factual testimony to what they experienced in the events surrounding the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. They were able to tell people that they were with Jesus before He was crucified. They were able to tell people that they were with Jesus after He rose from the dead. A news reporter might have said, …”Our next story comes from Jerusalem. A band of followers of a certain Jewish teacher, named Jesus, claim that their teacher, who was recently crucified by Roman soldiers, is now alive and well. There are witnesses who have seen Him alive. Marshall Jenkins has the story …”

The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is grounded in eye witness testimony, not in philosophy.

The Powder of Life

My younger children so much enjoyed me reading “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” to them that I have continued on to L. Frank Baum’s next book in the series, “The Marvelous Land of Oz.”  In this book, we find a young boy, Tip, who was under the care of a mean woman with magical powers named Mombi.  One day, he sought to frighten Mombi by making a life-sized man out of sticks with a pumpkin as its head.  He decided to place “Jack Pumpkinhead” at a bend in the road, a little way from their house, so as to scare Mombi when she saw him.

When Mombi turned the bend in the road, she encountered the pumpkin-headed man.  She was not scared, but felt tricked by Tip.  So, she sought her revenge by using her newly acquired powder of life to bring the life-sized doll to life. “Surely this would scare Tip even more than a life-sized doll,” she thought!  So, she applied the powder to the pumpkin-headed man, said a few magical words, and the pumpkin-headed man came to life!  Upon discovering that that powder actually worked, Mombi danced around Jack pumpkinhead screaming with delight, “He lives!  He lives!  He lives!”

This is the great reality of Easter!  “He lives!  He lives!  He lives!” (Luke 24:6).  May we show the same excitement at the reality of our risen Lord!

Resurrection Glasses

In recent days, I have been reading L. Frank Baum’s classic work, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” to my younger children.  They have enjoyed it and have noticed some of the differences between it and the movie (of which they are quite familiar).  One of those differences has to do with the Emerald City. Before the Guardian of the Gate allows anyone into the city, he requires (under orders from the Oz, himself) that they wear green-colored spectacles.  In fact, the Guardian of the Gate even locks them onto everyone to insure that they won’t be removed.  He only has the key that will unlock them.  The Guardian says that the brightness and glory of the Emerald City would blind those without the glasses.  While this may have been true, another fact of these glasses is that they make everything in the city look green.  The candy and popcorn and shoes and hats and clothes (and even the lemonade) are all green!

The resurrection of Jesus Christ does the same thing to our view of the cross.  That which is horrible looks lovely because of the resurrection.  The cross was a despised instrument of torture for criminals. Apart from the resurrection, the death of our Lord should lead us to despair.  However, seen in light of the resurrection, the cross gives us great hope.  The events that ought to be tragic are transformed by the resurrection into our great joy! It’s no wonder that the preaching of the cross is a stumbling block to those who don’t believe in the resurrection (1 Corinthians 1:23). When you don’t have the resurrection, you will stumble in the dark. But, resurrection glasses transform the instrument of death into an object of great joy for us!