From The Ministry Team
Over the last week or so we seem to have received a large number of advertisements for various things. They come through the letter box with the post especially on
a Monday; they are sometimes slipped inside newspapers or magazines. They advertise various products or services and very often they begin with a question.
“Is this the very best stairlift available?” for instance; or “is this the most effective vacuum cleaner?” or the very best investment opportunity? All such leaflets and advertisements have something in common and on occasions you may even consider that they make outlandish claims. The businesses that produce the leaflets
want to promote their product as “the best” without laying themselves open to challenge from rivals, dissatisfied customers or Trading Standards officials.
There may be no way of knowing which vacuum cleaner is the best or most reliable in the world and the promoters must be careful to tell the truth while still
trying to put the idea that their product is “the best” into the minds of the general public.
I have sorted through these leaflets and sent most to the recycling bin. There was only one that I thought might be worth further investigation to ascertain whether the claims may be true. Then while I was preparing a piece for this magazine about the 9 days between Ascension Day (when Jesus returned to heaven) and
Pentecost (when the disciples received the gift of the Holy Spirit) I began to wonder about peoples’ reaction to the resurrection of Jesus and the events that
followed. Are claims in the Gospels credible, are they believable, are they true?
The four Gospel writers give their accounts of what they witnessed first-hand, some in more detail than others. These accounts include moments of confusion
and disbelief – the women who went to the tomb on the first Easter day, or St Thomas expressing his doubts until Jesus appeared to him personally and talked
to him. Later Jesus appeared to his disciples on approximately six occasions before his ascension, teaching them further and giving them instructions about
what they should do when he was no longer with them physically. The Apostle John tells us that:
“Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may
believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John verse 30).
And in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians he writes:
“after that, he [Jesus] appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time” (1 Corinthians 15 verse 6.)
If we read the gospel accounts, we can see that the initial reactions of the disciples were perfectly reasonable. It must have seemed as though it could not be
true, surely it was impossible, or perhaps they were seeing a ghost? Through spending time with Jesus following his resurrection the disciples realised that it
was true, he had indeed risen from dead it was not a false claim or exaggeration.
At the end of this month we will celebrate Ascension Day and then, as the disciples did, spend time in prayer, waiting for Pentecost when we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit - who enabled the disciples, and us today, to carry on the work Jesus had begun. The disciples obeyed Jesus command to go to Jerusalem and await the gift of the Holy Spirit because they believed he was alive; the same Jerusalem where they had sheltered behind closed doors for fear that the crowd would come for them just as they had for Jesus. The belief that Jesus was alive transformed, energised and empowered them. It gave them the strength to endure suffering and eventual martyrdom. This still enthuses and energises Christians today. Wishing you every blessing.
(If you would like to investigate this further, you can read about it in the Bible at the start of the New Testament section.
Matthew chapter 28; Mark chapter 16; Luke chapter 24, John chapters 20 and 21 and lastly Acts chapter 1. Acts
chapter 2 tells of the coming of the Holy Spirit.)