Friday, May 6, 2011

Bin Laden and Easter

Friday after Easter 2
May 6, 2011

The Lord be with you

The circumstances around the death of bin Laden’s, along with something I read in the newspaper about it, got me thinking. Apparently bin Laden was unarmed when the Seals found and killed him. In response to this, the article quoted a man named Hamid Mir, an anchor for Geo Television, as saying, “I think he was definitely armed and he was firing on U.S. commandos. Osama told me many times that he will not surrender; he claimed that he will fight and I think he was fighting.” To be honest, what Hamid Mir thinks makes sense to me. The Seals are coming, his people are fighting, and he knows the USA has said he was wanted “dead or alive.” The natural thing would be to pick up a gun and join his fighters to defend himself. Why didn’t he? Could it be that he just didn’t believe the evidence? Did he simply think that his being found and killed impossible? There are numerous examples of this in the pages of history.

In the early 1200’s, the Mongols conquered the mighty Chinese Empire. When the Mongols attacked the capital, the Emperor, who was the “son of heaven,” knew that the capital could not fall. When the Mongols stormed the palace, the emperor knew that the palace would not fall; after all, he was the “son of heaven.” When the Mongols found the emperor, he was completely surprised and unprepared. The facts all around him pointed to something that was “impossible,” so he didn’t believe all was lost.

In the mid-1600’s the Chinese still think that they are the center of the universe, the Mongols are long gone, they still think the emperor is the “son of heaven” so they can’t be conquered, and the Qing (who are Manchurians from the north) are attacking. Once again the Chinese army is no match for the invaders, and once again the emperor does not believe it. Territory is falling into the hands of the Qing, the Qing attack the capital, and then the Forbidden City, but what is that to the emperor. Emperor Yongle did realize he was in trouble before the Qing burst into his room, but only by moments. Those moments gave him time to commit suicide.

In WWI Germany attacked Russia. What was the response in St. Petersburg? The Czar didn’t believe it. After all, they had an alliance with Germany. Russians were dying by the score and the Russian leadership did nothing because the facts pointed to something that was impossible.

In WWI, Germany had an “unbreakable” code. The code was indeed broken when the Allies captured a German “enigma” decoding machine. The Germans had ample intelligence indicating that the Allies had broken their code, but that evidence was pointing to something that was “impossible.” The result? The German Kaiser and his High Command simply didn’t believe the evidence. They continued to use their “unbreakable” code and the Allies continued to intercept messages and decoded them.

Examples could be multiplied. When facts conflict with belief, often facts lose in the hearts and minds of people. Many prefer to hold onto cherished beliefs to the bitter end.

This seems to have an application to Easter, to the life of Jesus, and to the Christian Faith in general. The evidence that Jesus rose from the grave on the first Easter was overwhelming. Why didn’t the High Priest believe it? The two disciples walking to Emmaus also had the evidence, but didn’t believe. The other men had heard the report of the women and even examined the tomb, but didn’t believe. They didn’t believe because the evidence, the facts, pointed to something that was “impossible.”

Down to this day there are millions and millions around the globe that do not accept the resurrection. Why? The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus are the best, the very best, attested to events in ancient world. But, if you “know” it is impossible, then you reject the evidence. You search for some other explanation, no matter how unlikely it might be. It seems better to believe that in the case of Jesus, in this one and only case, Jesus didn’t really die on the cross; that, with Jesus, we have an example where a man survived an execution that no one else ever survived. Or you might believe that all the disciples experienced a mass hallucination, in which their hallucinations were all identical. It doesn’t matter that such a mass hallucination has never occurred in any other setting. Or you believe that the disciples stole the body of Jesus and then were willing to die for their lie. It doesn’t matter that such things never happen, that over 500 people agree to a lie and all of them are willing to die for the lie. Someone always breaks down and tells the truth. Other far-fetched explanations have been proposed. The only reason people have ever believed in them is because the resurrection of Jesus from the dead is “impossible.”

But it did happen. Jesus did rise from the dead. It is his proclamation of victory over sin, death, and the devil. It is his proclamation that the atonement for the sins of humanity had been paid. It is the Father’s proclamation that the atonement earned by Jesus was accepted. It is the message that the Holy Spirit uses to create life and salvation in the hearts of those who receive it. It is God’s open invitation to forgiveness and eternal life.

So what is it in your life? Do you believe the evidence that points to the “impossible,” or do you reject the evidence and wait until it is too late? Christ calls each of us through the Gospel.

Today Your mercy calls us
To wash away our sin.
However great our trespass,
Whatever we have been,
However long from mercy
Our hearts have turned away,
Your precious blood can wash us
And make us clean today.

Today Your gate is open,
And all who enter in
Shall find a Father’s welcome
And pardon for their sin.
The past shall be forgotten,
A present joy be giv’n,
A future grace be promised,
A glorious crown in heav’n.

Today our Father calls us;
His Holy Spirit waits;
His blessed angels gather
Around the heav’nly gates.
No question will be asked us
How often we have come;
Although we oft have wandered,
It is our Father’s home.

O all-embracing Mercy,
O ever-open Door,
What should we do without You
When heart and eye run o’er?
When all things seem against us,
To drive us to despair,
We know one gate is open,
One ear will hear our prayer.

(Lutheran Service Book # 915)

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

1 comment:

  1. Okay, so now the news is saying that there wasn't much of a fight put up by any of the fighters in bin Laden's compound. I guess this illustration will never make a sermon, but the point is still valid.