My Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
“but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses..” – Acts 10:40-41a
Eye-witness accounts are some of the most compelling evidence that are entered into evidence in courtrooms around the world. We love to hear the story first-hand. We love to know that someone saw it with their own eyes and now are telling us all the details that they saw. Juries love it too.
Perhaps, we love it a bit too much. With the advent of DNA evidence, a lot of guilty verdicts are being overturned. And, in those that are reversed, studies suggest that upwards of 75% of them hinged upon erroneous eye-witness accounts. Yikes! In fact, you can read article after article about studies that have been done in regards to false witness accounts. It seems that our eyes and brains can be tricked far more easily than we would like to think.
Now, while that little fact is causing a lot of trouble for our court systems, it should not come as much of a surprise to us as Christians. I know that many people like cold, hard facts and knowing that they have the complete story But, we have a hearty and full tradition of being people who live beyond just a story.
Take for example the resurrection accounts: In one Gospel (Mark), a single individual greets the women outside the empty tomb. In another (Luke), two men greet the women inside the tomb. And, while we are on the subject of the women, Matthew, Mark, and Luke can’t agree on who went to the tomb or who they went and told after the fact.
The confusion and differing points seem like hard evidence that these stories wouldn’t stand up in a court of law. Can you imagine the chaos if a prosecution called three witnesses that all told a different story?
But, we aren’t looking to put the resurrection story on trial. We can grill (study) the Gospel writers and come up with some theories about why they told the stories they way they did. But, while that’s healthy Bible study, that’s not the point either.
The point is something so radical, so miraculous, so world-changing happened on that morning two thousand years ago that the world has been retelling and reliving that moment ever since. It doesn’t matter if it’s one or two angels, the tomb is empty. It doesn’t matter exactly who the women are, they were compelled to go and tell others!
Sometimes we let the little details eclipse the larger truth. Sometimes we let our own doubts and hesitations prevent us from telling and living the new life we have been given.
As we gather this Sunday morning to hear the story of the resurrection again (from Luke this time!), I encourage you think about why this story is so important to you. And, when we discover that, we may have an idea of why our world still needs to hear it!