The reality of the resurrection

I think I would want to believe in the resurrection, even if I didn’t.  You will sit in church this Sunday with a lot of people who want to believe, but they really don’t.  You might sit at your table after church with some who fall in that category as well.  P and L Christianity (poinsettia and lily) is not uncommon.  Churches add service times, ask their members to park somewhere else, and hire extra players for the orchestra – just for those two special services.  Maybe this is the year the P and L church-attendees will decide that Jesus is worthy of the rest of their Sundays as well.  Why do people think Jesus is important at Christmas and Easter, but less relevant to the other weeks?  Could it be that they want to believe in the resurrection of Christ, but just can’t?

Paul said, “If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.  And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:13-15).  Paul would say that if a person doesn’t believe in the resurrection, that person doesn’t believe in the gospel message.  Nothing about Christianity matters eternally, if the resurrection isn’t true.  Not only that, those of us who call ourselves Christians are liars, if the resurrection didn’t happen.

I worry about the P and L Christians.  Do they really believe?  If they did, could they really settle for Christmas and Easter worship?  I wonder if coming twice a year gives them just enough Jesus to immunize them from “catching” the true faith.

I realize that those of you who subscribe to this blog are probably not people who fit in that worrisome category.  I also realize my readers will probably sit in the pew, or at the table, with some who do.  So a quick review for those of us who might be called to a deeper conversation this week.

The Garden Tomb in Jeruslaem, viewed from the outside looking in, which is believed by many to be the garden and sepulchre of Joseph of Arimathea, and therefore a possible site of the resurrection of Jesus (Credit: Jeff Byrd)Why do Christians believe that Jesus was raised from the dead?

1. The tomb was empty.  The tomb was sealed and Roman guards were posted.  Jesus’ body went someplace and it did not exit the way it entered.

2. The women who entered the tomb that Sunday morning saw the linen wrapping, still wrapped, but the body had vaporized from within.  The women could have lost their lives for their message, but they insisted on the truth of what they had seen.

3. The apostles went from hiding in the Upper Room to preaching in the streets.  All but one of them would die for their preaching.  The apostles would not have died for a lie – they had other options.

4. There are billions of people, over thousands of years whose lives have been changed by Jesus.  If Jesus wasn’t resurrected then the Holy Spirit doesn’t exist in our lives.  The apostles were changed men, Jesus’ brother James was a changed man, and all of us have been changed as well.  It is hard to dispute the power of the Holy Spirit at work in the lives of so many.

5. More than 500 people saw the risen Christ.  That fact alone would be enough proof in any court of law.  An eyewitness is considered the most valid testimony.  Five hundred eyewitnesses, many of whom were willing to die for their testimony, would be considered irrefutable evidence.

So, why are there still people who don’t believe the resurrection was possible?  Most of the time, it is because it doesn’t make scientific sense.  We live at a time in history when people do not trust what they cannot prove.  Or so they think.

Ask any person to prove love exists, scientifically.  Ask a person to prove hate, greed, jealousy, compassion, trust, or any of the other powerful forces in the human existence.  When I have a discussion about the truth of the resurrection, I usually end there.

The truth of life is that we do believe in a great number of things that we can’t prove scientifically.  Very few people believe that love and hate are not realities – yet neither can be proven to exist.  The single, greatest proof of God’s existence is found in the fact that he is unexplainable and that no amount of man’s science and study can prove or disprove him.

God is so much higher than man’s ability to comprehend.  Is there amazing evidence for the reality of the resurrection?  Absolutely.  Will you ever be able to prove it?  No.  For me, that places the reality of God in the same category as the reality of love.  The only way to know love is real is to experience it.  No amount of reasoning or research will prove it.

If a person accepts the reality of love, they can accept the reality of the Easter story – the greatest act of love ever shown.  Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13).  Jesus knew he was going to die and he was telling his disciples why it would happen.  He loved them and they were worth dying for.  So are you!

A lot of people want to believe in Easter, but don’t.  You can help them trust the reality of the resurrection.  If we believe in love, we can believe in Easter.  The Easter story is pure truth – about pure love.  Share that love with others as your gift of love to God.

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