3rd Sunday of Easter (May 5, 2019)
Something happened 2000 years ago that is beyond our ability as humans to fully understand. Through the Holy Spirit, God sent His only Son to earth. He didn’t come down on a cloud or riding on a chariot ready to lead an army like in a blockbuster movie. He came to earth as a baby, through the womb of a virgin named Mary. Jesus advanced in years and eventually began preaching about love, forgiveness, repentance and having eternal life with His Father in heaven. Throughout his travels, Jesus performed many miracles and His followers grew in number day by day. Jesus also made enemies along the way, which eventually lead to his gruesome death by crucifixion. Three days after his burial, Jesus rose from the dead… just as he claimed he would.
Stop here for a second and really ponder this. There have been other leaders and prophets before and after Jesus that have also claimed to be divine or have superhuman powers. But you know what ended their 10 seconds of fame? Death. No resurrection. Just death. Their followers saw them get killed or die and they too just faded away.
So thinking through this logically… If the resurrection of Jesus Christ was just a myth, His followers would have scattered and disappeared into nothingness. The names of Peter, James, John, Matthew, Bartholomew and the rest of the Apostles would have no real value to us 2000 years later.
But that’s not the story we hear in today’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles. The Apostles are standing before the Sanhedrin. This is part of the group that was directly involved with convincing the Romans to execute Jesus. The Sanhedrin is demanding the Apostles to stop teaching in the name of Jesus Christ. Remember, the Apostles saw Jesus get scourged… they saw soldiers use nails to attach Him to a wooden cross… they saw the agonizing death that Jesus experienced as He struggled to breath His last breath. They saw the horrible death of someone claiming to be the Son of God.
But you know what else they saw??? They saw a teacher conquer death and rise again. That’s when they knew that Jesus truly was the Son of God. And that is what sets Jesus apart from every other teacher, leader or prophet. Jesus didn’t stay dead. No… He conquered death and ascended into heaven to spend eternity with His Father.
And here’s the kicker. Here’s why this is important to all of us. Jesus’ death and resurrection gave all of us the opportunity to also live forever in Heaven after our earthly death.
The Apostles knew this to be true. That’s why they pretty much laughed in the face of the Sanhedrin when they were ordered to be silent. They no longer feared death. They now understood that death lasts but a moment, but God’s love lasts eternally in heaven. And they were ready and willing to die to this life so as to be with God in heaven. They refused to deny their faith or remain silent anymore.
What about you? Is your faith strong and vibrant like the Apostles? Or are you afraid to live out your faith for fear of someone telling you to be silent?
Like the Apostles, do not be afraid to follow Jesus Christ. Do not be afraid to live out your faith. Have no fear… Jesus opened the gates of heaven for all of us. And on the other side of those gates is a loving Father. A Father ready to embrace us all.