Too Good To Be True?
By Dennis S. Hankins
But their story seemed like nonsense, and they did not believe them.
All of us have experienced unbelievable moments in our lives. Perhaps you’ve even said, “I just can’t believe it! It’s just too good to be true!” Maybe it was the gift of your first car. Maybe Dad gave you the keys to his car without you asking when you were about to have your first date. Or maybe you were given an opportunity that until that moment could only be a dream. It’s really fun and joyous when dreams come true; when unbelievable events happen and we experience a boat load of happiness.
The very first Easter was initially an apprehensive time for the disciples. We could even say it was a time of unbelief and darkness. At least it was at first. Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and several unnamed women exclaimed, “He is risen!” Many of the eleven simply did not believe their exciting news. To them it was nonsense.
Before we take them to task let’s remember that betrayal and denial and accusation and finally the crucifixion preceded that first Easter morning. Skepticism was thick in the air and fear ruled the hearts of those who were closest to Jesus. When Thomas was told, “We have seen the Lord,” he responded with a heart filled with incredulity, “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.” I think we are supposed to hear that with all caps, “I WILL NOT BELIEVE!”
For Thomas it simply was just too good to be true. But Jesus took Thomas at his word, because eight days later Jesus came again to the house where his disciples were staying. He didn’t knock. He didn’t use the door at all. He simply stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” And then he invited Thomas to touch him. Thomas heard Jesus say, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing.” Thomas replied, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus asked, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”
How faithful and loving Jesus is. He would not leave Thomas in his doubts nor would he allow Peter to live forever wounded in his denial of the Lord. You see, Easter is for all of us. It is for all who hurt; for all who are in pain; for all who suffer and doubt and struggle to believe. Easter is for all who are wounded in heart and mind; it is for all who live marked with the scars of violence and terror. Easter is for all who battle with the powers of addiction to alcohol and drugs and pornography.
Easter is also for those today who will lose their battle with some dreaded disease. It is for that mom and dad who will bury their child today. Easter is for a faithful wife who is dying with a disease given to her by an unfaithful husband. Easter is for all those who died in the senseless violence against innocent children and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Easter is for all those who are left to grieve in that precious community. Easter is for all who endure genocide, and wars, and rumors of wars, and famine and disease, drought, and destruction.
Easter is good and true and powerful! In the name of the risen Jesus you and I can clothe the naked, and feed the hungry, and give water to the thirsty. In Christ’s name we can comfort the hurting and console the dying. In the name of Jesus we can pray for the sick and suffering. Through Christ we can heal broken hearts and preach the Good News to the poor.
It’s important to remember that Jesus did not buy a grave. He did not pick out a sepulcher for his burial. There was no need to make such arrangements. Joseph of Arimathea loaned him his tomb. Jesus borrowed a tomb because he knew he wouldn’t need it very long. Christ lives! And because he lives every man and woman and boy and girl is invited to claim for themselves his love, his strength, his mercy and forgiveness.
Too good to be true? Peter wrote some years later after the Resurrection of our Lord and said, “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” Yes my friend, it’s true. It’s all true. It’s all very powerful and very good and very true!
Now may the God of peace
who brought again from the dead
our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep,
by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you
with everything good that you may do his will,
working in you that which is pleasing in his sight,
through Jesus Christ;
to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.