Today, 25 days past Easter Sunday, 2015, most of us have moved on with our lives. What wonder we felt has been boxed up with our few little Easter decorations.
But in the first century it was not so. Even after three weeks the awe was fresh.
Have you ever wondered who saw Jesus after He rose again? Did Mary and Martha and Lazarus see Him? What about Nicodemus? Or Joseph of Arimathea who boldly went to Pilate and requested the body of Jesus? Or Simon the Cyrene who was jerked from the crowd and forced to carry the cross for Jesus who was too weak from His all night interrogations, beatings, lashings and lack of food? Did any of these three see Him?
Paul, who describes himself as “one untimely born,” writes that Jesus “appeared to more than 500 brethren at one time.”* Were there that many gathered for an early church service during those 40 days? I wish I knew; do you?
I am confident, however, that the facts we are given are all we need to know before heaven. That a crowd of 500 saw Him all at once is a convincing proof both then and now. Too many saw Him alive in AD33 for the story to be relegated to an overactive imagination, though that has been often proposed argument ever since.
What began then has for centuries continued: the testimony of Jesus being passed from one generation of disciples to the next always with the hope that those witnessing to the power of Jesus to change lives are also living in the last days. But today, in our twenty first century it seems the words of Peter are becoming true: “in the last days mockers will come….saying, ‘where is the promise of His coming?…all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.”
Not enough of us are sharing the good news and that includes me. I’m asking God for more boldness, more awareness of who might need to hear. In our prosperity we feel little need of heaven’s hope, little urgency to keep telling the story. But Peter tells us, “the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night,…therefore be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless.”*
Jesus is today manifesting Himself alive in dreams and visions being reported from around the world, particularly in the Middle East. Does hearing that report make you scoff? Are you responding as did Thomas? Do you know the prophesy that in the last days many will dream dreams and see visions from the book of Joel? Could it be that we are nearing the days foretold so long ago, that life will not continue as it has indefinitely? No one knows, of course, but we dare not disbelieve and we must be alert to opportunities to talk with grace to others about the resurrected Jesus.
*I Cor 15:6
** 2 Peter 3:3,4,10,14