Today: Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Seeing and Believing    (5/14/2017 )

Almost 48 years ago, on July 20th 1969 at 8.18 in the evening, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed the lunar module Eagle on the moon - the very first manned landing.  I know, I was there!

When I say I was there, strictly speaking of course, I wasn’t.  No one else was.  But I was one of those so enthralled I stayed up most of that night to watch developments on television and to see the first moon walk.  I wasn’t actually there, but it felt almost as though I had been!  I lived through every moment of that momentous event.

There are some people who have questioned whether it ever really happened.  Wasn’t it all a great hoax arranged with Hollywood?  That is just a possibility, I suppose, but as some have claimed, that would have cost NASA more than the actual flight!  Sooner or later, though, someone would have blown the whistle, told the truth and given the game away.  So many people would have been involved, and would have known.  A secret like that would have been impossible to keep secret!

Similar theories have been put forward about the resurrection of Jesus.  In fact even before it happened, steps were taken to ensure the dead body of Jesus couldn’t be stolen from the tomb,  so that no one would be able to hide it somewhere, and then claim he was alive again after all.

In fact, however, the very people who might have masterminded such a scheme were the very ones who were taken aback and full of doubt when Jesus was seen again.  There were plenty of others, on the other hand, who had good reason to prove he was still thoroughly dead - in the face of these stories that he was alive - but they had no evidence, there was no body.

What is so striking about the resurrection stories is that they are told by people who were there, who saw Jesus and knew for certain that he was alive.  If there had been any hoax it would very quickly have been revealed and the story disproved.

With the conviction that Jesus was alive, back from the dead, came a burning passion to share the news.  In fact it became a key part of the Good News of what God had done through Jesus.

Those first witnesses staked not just their reputations but their lives on the fact of what they had seen and experienced.  It was out of their evidence, and their utter conviction, that the church was born.

The moon landings and the amazing pictures of earth from space have radically changed our view of the earth.  We see it in a new light, both in its beauty and its fragility.

The resurrection of Jesus has changed our perception of life and of death.  We now know there is a power greater than death, and we know that at the heart of it all is the hand of the God of love.  “The truth is,” as St Paul wrote (see 1 Corinthians 15, verse 20), “that Christ has been raised from death.”  And that is a truth even more true than men on the moon!


Give thanks to God for the courageous witness of those who first saw Jesus alive from the dead.  Help me too, Lord, to face the facts, to rejoice in the truth, and to know with conviction the reality of your living presence.

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