I’m going to read a series of seemingly crazy statements. I want you to shout out and tell me if you think they’re truth, or just a load of trash. Charlotte Hughes from Marske, Tees-side, celebrated her 110th birthday in 1987 by flying on Concorde to New York for an all-expenses-paid stay in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. [Truth. She lived to be 115]
Oxford law student and future prime minister Tony Blair, and his rock band “Ugly Rumours”, reached No.33 in the charts in 1973 with a cover version of the Rolling Stones song “Satisfaction”. [Trash]
In Newton Mearns, during the big freeze in January 2011, thieves armed with lifting gear stole a roadside grit bin and 2 tons of grit. [Truth]
The cult film “Jaws” was based on a true story [Truth – shark attacks in New Jersey, summer 1916]
Golf has been played on the Moon [Truth – Alan Shepard]
A family from West Lothian, on holiday in Florida in 2010, woke up to find a crocodile had got into their hotel room. They frightened it off by putting a Take That CD on full-blast. [Credible, but trash]
To stop arguments about when a try has been scored, a new rugby ball has been invented, coated with crushed firefly tails, so that whenever it’s touched down, it’s energised by a magnetic field and flashes red. [Trash. It was an April Fool published in “The Independent” in 1998.]
McDonald’s have won a contract to provide guests at the opening ceremony of the London Olympics with Caviar Burgers. [Trash]
A new car has been invented that runs on Irn Bru. It does 40mpg, but only 35 on Diet. [Trash]
Your minister once had to postpone a Rangers v Celtic football match because of snow. [Truth]
Later today, we’re going to hear a story that sounds really crazy. At first everyone said : what a load of TRASH!
But soon they had to think again.
TALK The first rays of dawn lit up Jerusalem that Sunday morning. But no light penetrated the gloom where, behind doors and windows tightly locked and bolted, the disciples were hiding, under the bed, scared that the soldiers would soon come and get them too, just as they had taken Jesus away and killed him three days before.
Suddenly there was hammering at the door, matched by the hammering of the disciples’ hearts against their ribcage. This was it. Game over. But no. They heard a voice. A familiar voice. Mary’s voice, but with a sense of hope and excitement that seemed so out of keeping with how they felt.
She pled with the disciples to let her in. She had amazing news, she said, and she wasn’t going to stop banging on the door till she had told them. Peter got up, slowly, thoughtfully, and made his way to the door, One by one, the locks, bolts and chains were released.
Mary burst in. The door nearly flew off its hinges. The disciples screwed up their eyes as the sunlight flooded into that dark room. Mary was almost dancing as she cried out : “I’ve seen Jesus! He’s alive!”
The first thought that crossed each disciple’s mind was : TRASH. Jesus was dead. Buried. Gone forever. The show was over. But after a moment, Peter and John agreed to go with Mary to the tomb where Jesus had been laid and see for themselves. And indeed it was empty.
That evening, as the disciples, confused and emotional, sat in candlelight and talked through what had been going on, suddenly Jesus appeared in their midst. “Peace be with you”, he said. It was true! Jesus had risen, just as He said He would. From the fear and grief of a few hours before, now the disciples were swinging from the lights in joy and excitement.
Well, most of them. Thomas wasn’t there. Thomas had volunteered to slip out under cover of darkness to nip down to the shops for some food. Jesus or no Jesus, they had to eat and someone had to buy it. When he came back, Thomas thought his friends had lost the plot altogether, singing, dancing, jumping up and down. “We’ve seen Jesus! He’s alive!”
And Thomas thought : TRASH! Check the level of the sherry bottle. But as the week wore on, the joy and excitement didn’t wear off. The 10 who claimed they’d seen Jesus had changed so much that, in spite of his own pride and stubbornness, Thomas was just about convinced even before the next Sunday night, when he saw the risen Christ for himself.
He believed, but still there were many who wouldn’t, not at any price.
When the Pharisees heard, they said : TRASH.
When the Roman authorities heard, they said : TRASH
Still today, when we say “Christ is risen!”, many people say : TRASH!
But what do they believe? How do they explain away the facts?
The essential fact that won’t go away is the empty tomb. How could that have happened, other than how the Bible says it happened? Some claim the disciples stole the body of Jesus. But wait a minute. The disciples ran away when Jesus was arrested. The sight of swords and spears and crosses left them too scared to show their faces.
Are we really to believe they had a change of heart, set the alarm for 5.30, hired earth-moving equipment, drove to the tomb, chloroformed the guards – of whom we shall hear more – moved the stone, stole the body of Jesus, buried his remains under the patio like in a bad soap opera, and pretended he’d come back from the dead? TRASH.
Even if they had the guts or the desire to pull off such a hoax, would they have been willing to stand on the street corners and try to sell the story of the resurrection, even to the point of being arrested, beaten and eventually put to death – as most of them were – for a lie? TRASH.
So, if the disciples didn’t steal the body, maybe somebody else did, just to make sure the disciples didn’t. The conspiracy theory approach. Like, for example, the Pharisees. But if they had, they could have squashed the claims of Jesus being raised from the dead very simply, by producing His dead body. They couldn’t. End of. That theory is TRASH.
Or the Roman authorities? But the same objection applies, plus the fact that Matthew tells us of soldiers being sent to guard the tomb precisely to stop the disciples trying any funny tricks. Those soldiers, we learn, fled in terror when the angels rolled away the stone. Normally, deserting your post would result in being put to death. Instead, they were bribed to keep quiet. What does that tell you? The Romans nicked the body? TRASH.
So let’s cut to the chase. The only reason people don’t believe Jesus is risen from the dead is that they don’t want to believe Jesus is risen from the dead. If Jesus did come back from the dead, it authenticates all He said and did. It proves He is the Son of God, to be loved and worshipped
If anyone tells me they don’t believe the Easter gospel, what they’re saying is that they don’t want Jesus to be Lord of their life. They don’t want to face the fact that there is God, and they are not it.
They don’t want eternal life, with peace and joy and health and prosperity, if the price of that is having to submit what they think, what they feel, what they want, to what Jesus says and wants.
That mindset is TRASH.
Now, just as I made a few statements earlier and asked you to say if they were TRUTH or TRASH, now I’ll give you some serious ones.
Jesus is risen from the dead.
Jesus gave His life that you and I might live forever.
Jesus was punished so that our sins would be forgiven.
Jesus suffered so that our diseases would be healed. Jesus became a curse for us so that we could receive God’s blessing. Jesus became poor for a time so that we could have plenty to enjoy and plenty more to give to those in need. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and no-one can really know God without faith in Him. Jesus is the Yes and Amen to every promise God ever made. Today and from now on, I’m putting all my trust in Jesus, no excuses.