It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles. (11) And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not. (12) Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.Luke 24:10-12
Little explanation is needed to understand these verses. The ladies told the disciples what happened, and the disciples did not believe them. Peter had to go see it for himself, and even when he saw the empty tomb he was perplexed. He was not assured of the reality of Christ being alive.
This is yet another reason to believe today, because Peter ended up giving his life for the reality of a risen Christ. Just a few short months later he told the same group of religious leaders who were instrumental, from a human perspective, in calling for Christ’s crucifixion these bold words:
(18) And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. (19) But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. (20) For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.Acts 4:18-20
What made them so bold, according to their own estimation, was the fact that they had seen the risen Christ. Peter, speaking of Christ’s transfiguration said,
For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.2 Peter 1:16
These men had seen something remarkable and undeniable. They had been indwelt and empowered by the Holy Spirit, and it changed their lives.
There may be times where it seems difficult to believe something as incredible as the Gospel. Think about the reality of these words:
Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; (2) By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. (3) For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; (4) And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: (5) And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: (6) After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. (7) After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.1 Corinthians 15:1-7
All but one of those disciples died a martyr’s death. The one that didn’t, John, died in exile. People don’t die for a lie that they conjured up themselves. Jesus is alive.
Three appropriate responses to the Gospel…