Sunday, April 16, 2006

Eyewitnesses (Easter Sunday)

If you witnessed a man die…

A man who changed your life;
an extraordinary man,
something much more than a man—
how can it be possible?
The Son of God!

You saw that man die—you witnessed it;
and then, you saw him come back from the dead—
I don’t mean 20 minutes later,
after the paramedics show up;
On the third day—
after he had been in the tomb—
you saw him come back from the dead.

If you saw that, what would be different?

Peter and others saw that.

If you wonder how convinced Peter was,
Recall, he died rather
than deny what he witnessed.

Oh, we know Peter denied the Lord
before the crucifixion;
But after seeing the empty tomb;
after seeing the risen Lord with his own eyes?
Peter died on his own cross,
rather than deny Jesus!

And he was far from the only one.

Our faith is founded on certain facts:
Jesus lived, Jesus taught, Jesus changed lives;
Jesus was arrested,
Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
he suffered, died and was buried.

And he rose from the dead!

In a moment, we’ll declare again
that we believe that.

How do we know these are facts?
Because there were witnesses—
and they preserved their witness.

Our New Testament is their testimony.

The Gospels were written
only shortly after these events.
Matthew, Mark and Luke were all written
close to the time Peter died.
John’s Gospel might have come
as late as 20 years later.

All the documents of the New Testament
were complete by AD 100.
What wasn’t contributed by the Apostles themselves,
was completed by those who, like Luke and Mark,
accompanied the Apostles.

Contrast that with these stories
of other "gospels"—
supposedly "hidden,"
and recently "discovered."

They weren’t "hidden";
scholars and historians knew all about them.
They were forgotten;
they were written 100, 200
and more years afterward.
They contradict each other;
they paint a very strange portrait of Jesus—
one I think you would not like much
if you looked closely.

Their version of Jesus
hates the body, and the world—
he didn’t come to save it, but to escape it!
Their version of Jesus faked the crucifixion;
their Jesus thinks women should become men!

In their version, Judas the betrayer is a hero!

This is not the testimony of eyewitnesses!
That’s why the Church,
long ago, set them aside.

Did Jesus rise from the dead?

You have to choose to believe—
but know that we believe this
because people were witnesses;
and they, in turn,
died rather than deny what they saw.

And that depth of conviction,
that transformation of their lives—
Peter, James, John, and the rest—
is what convinced the next generation,
and the next, and the next…
down to the present.

Why do you believe it?

More importantly,
why should anyone believe you?

4 comments:

Dave Oatney said...

Father Fox;
Forgive me, as I have just now discovered your blog, and was led here by my old friend, Chuck Mountel. To say that your stories and posts inspire me would be an understatement. I do hope you won't mind if I visit often-and may I add you to my blogroll?

Father Martin Fox said...

dave:

Welcome!

Feel free "to blogroll" me; and please give my best to Chuck!

Georgette said...

Amen! And, wow, you get to the real meat of it!

Dave Oatney said...

Okay Father, you are officially blogrolled! If you are interested in having a look, the address is http://oatneyworld.blogspot.com