Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Nonsense or Perfect Sense

My mother in law said something to me the other day that has my head spinning. She said that Christianity is believable to her because of the book of Acts. The disciples who followed Jesus around were wishy washy at best in their faith until after Jesus died. One of his most faithful followers was Peter who thought it preposterous when Jesus told him that he would deny Him three times before sunrise. But sure enough, Peter did deny that he knew Jesus as soon as he thought his alliance with Him would get him killed. And he despaired deeply because of it. The disciples must have been so confused as they watched the One they had put their faith in die in excruciating pain and in the most humiliating of ways.

What is so remarkable is that this is the beginning of Christianity, not the end! You would think that Jesus’ death would have made these disciples go back to their old lives and their families and not want to discuss this nonsense anymore. Instead they become strong, courageous men of faith and wisdom who stopped at nothing to tell the world about Jesus. They did this at great loss to themselves. Most of the disciples were horribly murdered for proclaiming the gospel. But even when their teachers, the disciples, were being killed, the people who heard the Word continued to teach the gospel long after their teachers were gone. And so it has continued.

Something apparently happened to those disciples, and the men and women who followed after them to spread the news about Jesus, to embolden them. These were simple men, many of them fishermen, with little if any education or study in God’s Word. But after Jesus’ death, they became great speakers with an understanding of Scripture that challenged the religious leaders. Scripture tells us that the disciples saw Jesus after He had died and that He sent the Holy Spirit to comfort and strengthen them. Without those events, I don’t believe Christianity would have lasted another generation, and yet here we are. Jesus appeared to His friends to set their faith ablaze so that it would spread like wildfire to the ends of the earth.

Today, Jesus doesn’t appear to us. Well, perhaps He does appear to some of us in order to continue that blaze, but for the most part, we rely on our faith that what these disciples said long ago is true. And once we have this faith, Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to comfort and strengthen us too. The Holy Spirit’s work in my life is evidence to me that the gospels are true. Furthermore, examples in Scripture of mere fishermen, persevering despite persecution, standing boldly in front of religious leaders, and spreading the news of Jesus throughout the land tells me there is more to this man than meets the eye.

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