While working on my masters degree I had a conversation with another student about the resurrection of Jesus. She made a statement that at first might indicate an incredibly strong faith in God; “If the body of Jesus was found in a tomb somewhere, it would not shake my faith at all”. Far from this being an example of incredible faith, I found it to be the height of both hubris and folly. Hubris because it dared to claim a greater faith than even the Apostle Paul could admit for himself. Folly because that same Paul said that if Jesus is in fact NOT risen from the dead, then we are to be pitied above all men.
Paul put it this way when he wrote to the Christians in the Greek city of Corinth. “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.15More 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. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.16For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men”. 1 Corinthians 15:14-18
The woman who said that her faith would not be shaken if Jesus never had risen, did not understand the absolutely crucial, linchpin place, that the resurrection has for followers of Jesus. Paul understood that the resurrection was the game-changer. Because Jesus rose from the dead, everything was now different. It was the resurrection that vindicated Jesus after his humiliating death on the cross. It was the resurrection that demonstrated his victory over sin and death. It was the resurrection that lead to his being seated at the right hand of the Father and at whose name every knee would bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
If the resurrection had never happened then Jesus was simply one more religious teacher who led people astray, only to disappoint them in the end. Rabbi Gamaliel understood this when he told the religious leaders to leave the disciples alone. He said that if Jesus was a nobody who was still in the grave then this talk of him as a messiah would fade away, just like it had so many times before with other religious zealots. Paul understood that if the resurrection had never really happened then the whole Christian faith was a sham. It was people preaching lies about God. It meant that their faith was only a faith for this life and that was a huge waste of time and effort.
But Paul was adamant that the resurrection was real. Jesus had risen from the dead. His resurrection was the down payment for us, the guarantee that all who had faith in Jesus would also rise from the dead one day. Jesus is the pioneer who leads the way for all who trust in him and in the reality of his resurrection.
My friend from graduate school is someone who Paul would say is to be most pitied. She has a faith that really has no future. It is a faith that does not need a risen savior. Without a risen savior, one who is still in the grave, there is only the grave for us. Our faith is for this life only. If Jesus had never been risen then there is no reason to follow him. He is just a guy who died 2,000 years ago and is still dead. And no matter how much we believe in him, when we die, we will be just as dead for just as long and stay that way. No hope. No future. No life eternal. If Jesus is still in the grave then Christianity is a giant lie.
But because he is risen, we have life and hope, and a future that is beyond our most vivid and beautiful imaginations. We have a purpose in this life that will find it’s fulfillment in the next. We have a God who is worthy of our adoration and praise. We have a message to take to people that can change their lives, now and forever. We have a relationship with a very real God who loves us enough to pay the ultimate price for our reconciliation with Him. We have the power to bring that reconciliation to the world, healing to the broken, dignity to the oppressed, joy to the grieving, laughter to those who weep. I could go on and on because the resurrection changes everything. From the moment He burst forth from the tomb, nothing would ever be the same again. A world that was spiraling down into darkness and oblivion, became a world that could be lifted higher and more glorious, all because He is risen.
16 thoughts on “Why Everything Rises and Falls on the Resurrection of Jesus”
…Wow…you nailed it, Dan! Without a risen Christ there would be no true foundation for our faith. Our faith is…Christ is…all about LIFE. A story ending in death, would not have brought completion to the work He came to do. His death, was His gift…His blood, the price He paid…His resurrection, was the “proof”, that it was enough…enough to conquer death, once and for all!
…Thank you, for taking this stand, and for so clearly backing it up with the Word of God!
Excellent work, Dan. If Jesus is still in the tomb, we have no hope beyond today. Thanks for this.
excellent post and one that makes me excited….for Jesus has risen, indeed. Alleluia! :)+
Well now that is the CRUX of it isn’t it…I mean that is the divider, or the uniter, depending on how you see it…it is the Resurrection and the Resurrection alone…Great writing as usual Dan!
Two words: Christus Victor.
Excellent post, Dan! Indeed the resurrection is all we have. Otherwise Christianity will topple in an instant.
If Jesus rose from the dead, then went back to Heaven 40 days later, God did not sacrifice anything. He didn’t lose anything in the transaction. He got his son back right away. So John 3:16 is meaningless. If Jesus went to hell and remains there suffering to this day and forever, I can see that being a sacrifice. But since he “rose from the dead” 3 days later, nothing was lost for him or God the Father. Think about it this way – if one of your kids dies, they don’t come back a few days later. Death is final and God’s sacrifice should be final. Imagine Jesus sitting next to God in Heaven and ask yourself – what did God REALLY give up?
You seem to think that the suffering associated with the crucifixion is insignificant. In addition there is a spiritual component to the cross that goes beyond the physical suffering. His death involved taking on the guilt and sin of others. Jesus prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane prior to the crucifixion points to the anguish he is about to experience on behalf of humanity, and anguish that is characterized more by that spiritual component that the physical death. You also make the mistake of thinking that death is final. It is not. There is something beyond death but that does not make death any less painful or the spiritual aspect of it insignificant.
More to the point of the article, if in fact the resurrection did take place, that in itself should cause people to reconsider Jesus and the claims he made.
My point is that you cannot call something a sacrifice when there is nothing ultimate lost. When I sacrifice $100 to give it to a charity, I don’t get the money back. If they sent me a check 3 days later, there would be no sacrifice on my part ultimately. I am simply trying to look at the logic of the scenario. Maybe if Jesus survived death, but was separated from the Father for eternity, that would be a sacrifice. Something that we humans can look at and really appreciate God’s eternal loss. I understand the spiritual part of taking on our sins, but God created sin, or allowed it to happen, so sin is ultimately part of God’s plan. So taking on sin that he knew would happen, or allowed to happen, or planned to happen – again, is not compelling to me.
As far as the suffering on the cross, I admit that it must have been incredibly painful. However, a few hours on the cross is nothing compared to the torture many humans have experienced in the past. Example – WWII prisoners of Japanese and Nazis tortured for weeks/months/years beyond our wildest imagination, Also, the fact that it was painful does not then conclude that Jesus was God – it just means that it was painful. Lastly, a weekend of torture and death is a microscopic blip on the radar of an infinite being, so it really is very minor in the grand scheme of things. My point is that just I don’t see much of a sacrifice here.
To me…although the physical suffering of Jesus, and his willingness to pay for a crime he did not commit, is a valid sacrifice. However we will never fully understand what it took for perfection, absolute purity, to be dipped into hell itself…to take upon itself the full weight of sin and filth…to be bathed in all impurity. Jesus, a perfect Holy being, felt what it what like to bear the weight of unholiness. If Christ had remained there, what good would that have done for us? There would have been no conquering of death and sin, and we would all be eternally condemned, with no hope of resurrection. My hope lies not in what God gave up, although it was an amazing act of grace, even if Jesus had died instantly and been raised in the very moment following death. My thankfulness and amazement, comes through acknowledging that in some fantastic, mystical, marvelous way, Jesus was able to fight his way out of that pit…and come up…come out, victorious. He won…making it possible for his children to do the same. A beautiful truth…and an incredible Godhead, to whom I quite literally, owe my life.
This just seems like a lot of interpreting. I grew up with a Baptist pastor father, so believe me that I get the theology. There is no evidence of any kind, and I can’t accept the cop-out of “we will never understand” or “god has his reasons” or “it is too mysterious for us to comprehend” etc. Again, my main point is that God is in no different a position now as he was before the crucifixion. @”a beautiful truth” – there is no truth whatsoever to supernatural religious beliefs – just faith. Truth is demonstrable and testable.
…I understand your reasoning. But, if there is no “truth”, does that then mean, there is no such thing as “untruth” in this world? For without truth, there can be no lie. It does come down to truth, it does come down to testable and demonstrable evidence. Many times for the individual, it comes down to that personal testing of the love and grace of Jesus Christ in their own life. I will never fully be able to express it, but I can, to an extent, demonstrate the impact that being a follower of Jesus has had on my life. I grew up on the mission field, as an MK, and came away with questions and doubts…wanted something of my “own”. I had to go through some very dark times to find that elusive “thing” I was searching for. It was a very powerful and personal experience, which no one will ever take it from me. My tendency has always been to work it through on a cerebral level, and yet when it came down to it, it was the farthest thing from an intellectual understanding that changed my mind. I do appreciate, however, gaining knowledge of the facts which do help to back up my faith. I would highly recommend Lee Strobel’s “A Case For Christ”, an atheistic journalist’s search for truth. http://www.amazon.com/The-Case-Christ-Investigation-ebook/dp/B000FC2KEM/ref=kinw_dp_ke/183-1781837-0120660 …
“Truth” is something that can be tested and falsified. A personal experience can neither be tested or falsified by an outside party.So, faith can be considered a personal experience but not a truth that can be scrutinized and upheld by a neutral party. I understand people have faith and I can acknowledge that, but I can’t accept someone calling their faith an objective truth because they cannot demonstrate it objectively. For example, we can test and/or falsify the existence of Australia, but we cannot test or falsify the existence of God.
Nathan…In the end, it does come down to believing, believing in something which could be labeled as myth. But just as Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and G. K. Chesterton (all former atheists) came to believe…so did I. I would encourage you to either read the book I mentioned above, or watch the documentary of the same name, which is available on Netfix. Read Chesterton’ Orthodoxy…and some of Lewis’s works as well. This little video-clip is just a bit from a documentary on Lewis’s conversion, from Atheism to Theism, to Christianity. Other clips are available on Youtube. Read the gospels again…and again…with an open mind. When I went through my time of questioning, I read and reread…especially the book of John. I realized that my desire to disprove, was actually a deep-seated need to prove, that God was real, and that Jesus was indeed the son of God. In the end I resorted to quite literally falling on my face, before a God I wasn’t even sure existed, and asking for the enlightenment I so desperately desired…required. Something happened that day…nothing I can prove…but something no one can disprove, for it happened in me. A genuine search will lead you to that which you are seeking. I urge you, that rather than approaching the matter with a closed mind…you open yourself up to the possibility that something more lies out “there”…something more than that which our earthly senses are able to detect. Watch this…and whatever your opinions may be….do not ever stop seeking… http://youtu.be/brMKhhbQShU
…Nathan, I found this video to be quite fascinating. It is a reenactment of a conversation between J. R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, on the subject of truth vs. myth. Thought you might find it interesting, as well…
Oops…sorry about that…it might be helpful to actually include the link:)…I think you really will find this debate to be interesting! http://youtu.be/NzBT39gx-TE