The Easter Promise

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In many ways, my childhood during the 1960s and 70s was charmed, because I was largely protected from the upheaval and uncertainty of the time. John F. Kennedy (1963), Martin Luther King Jr. (1968), and Bobby Kennedy (1968) were assassinated. We were engaged in a war in Vietnam that many opposed and protested. Civil Rights marches tragically turned violent. The Cold War was in full swing. And, in 1974 the President of the United States, Richard Nixon, resigned after an unprecedented scandal involving a break-in at the Watergate Hotel. Even though I was mostly insulated from these events, I do remember the tears, disillusionment, fear, anger and questions in people’s voices during those times.

Although the Watergate scandal and resignation of President Nixon brought upheaval and anguish at the time, it also put into motion another set of events. Were it not for Watergate we might not have ever heard of Nixon’s Special Council (his lawyer) – an individual by the name of Chuck Colson. Had Chuck Colson not gone to prison for obstruction of justice, he might not have come to know Jesus, and we might not have his wonderful life-giving ministry of Prison Fellowship, and Chuck’s writings and inspiration.

After coming to know Christ in prison, Chuck couldn’t stop talking about Jesus. Like a modern-day disciple Chuck found himself speaking and writing and sharing his message about Christ with anyone who would listen. Chuck even went so far as to say that, for him, Watergate proved that Jesus came back to life on that first Easter. Let me repeat that. Colson said, Watergate proved that Jesus came back to life on that first Easter. What on earth did Colson mean? And why is it an important message for us all?

Colson’s point was that Nixon’s staff was intensely loyal. Each of them would do nearly anything for Nixon. But John Dean, another of Nixon’s attorneys, began to testify against Nixon just two weeks after alerting Nixon that something was wrong and they were about to get caught. Here’s Colson’s point. Once the chips were down and people were faced with jail-time, it took only TWO WEEKS for the first of those men to break – to lift the cover from the cover-up – to start trying to save their own skins. After John Dean gave his testimony, “everyone else jumped ship in order to save themselves.”

Colson went on to say that the men of Watergate were not facing death. They were only facing jail-time; and yet they quickly abandoned their deeply-felt loyalties to try to save themselves.

But that sort of thing did NOT happen to Jesus’ disciples. Colson said, “Twelve powerless men, peasants really, were facing not just embarrassment or political disgrace, but beatings, stonings, executions. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THE DISCIPLES INSISTED, TO THEIR DYING BREATHS, THAT THEY HAD PHYSICALLY SEEN JESUS BODILY RAISED FROM THE DEAD.”

Colson went on to say, “Don’t you think that one of those apostles would have cracked before being beheaded or stoned?  That one of them would have made a deal with the authorities?  NONE DID.  Men will give their lives for something they believe to be true; they will never give their lives for something they know to be false.”  (Charles Colson, BreakPoint Online Commentaries, April 29, 2002.)

Keep in mind that each of the eleven apostles claimed to have personally seen the risen Christ. They had spent time with Him on this side of Christ’s grave. They had talked with Him. Walked with Him. Drank wine with Him. They had seen Him die, and they had seen Him come back to life. That was good enough for them – and their testimony is good enough for me.

Christ’s passion and death matter. Christ’s resurrection matters. Easter matters. Who Jesus is and what He said about Himself and His Father are true. Easter gives me, and you, an opportunity to bear witness to our faith in Jesus’ resurrection – and to the promise that His resurrection insures that we too will live forever with God. That’s the Easter promise!

May God bless you today and every day with an Easter faith.

Peace friends, today and always, and Happy Easter!

Chuck

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