“He is risen!”
“He is risen indeed!!” . . . the early church’s greeting on any given day. Good times, bad times, or when things were just down right ugly, the resurrection of Jesus Christ trumped it all.
Of course, that assumes it happened. It assumes that in this time, space, material world, the resurrection of Jesus Christ was a historical event that really took place. He did come out of that grave with a body that could be seen, felt, and could eat; with a body that could function down here, as well as on the other side; with a body that conquered death forever. He is risen indeed!!
But what if? What if the resurrection of Jesus Christ was nothing but the figment of the early church’s imagination, something they wanted so bad to be so, that they just worked themselves up to believe it was so? What if Jesus Christ died on the cross . . . and that was that?
There was a church back then heading down that ‘what if’ road. In fact, it was a booming church plant in Corinth, started by Paul. But once he left, they began to toy with the idea that Christianity could be a religion without a resurrection.
That’s when Paul confronted them: Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. . . . And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. (1 Cor 15:12-19).
On the road to be pitied, because those people thought dead bodies were forever dead and that was that. To some at Corinth, resurrection talk was foolish talk; wishful thinking; sheer fantasy . . . not realizing what they really were saying. If this concept of a body being raised from the dead was impossible to God, then not even Jesus Christ had been raised from the dead, the very One they had put their trust in to get them safely from here to there through that portal called death. Which means . . .
No Resurrection, No Christianity – For sure, there are a lot of things that describe Christianity (love, kindness, forgiveness, just to name a few). But the one thing that defines authentic Christianity above all else, is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. At it’s core Christianity is a resurrection religion . . . meaning if it did not happen, Christianity is no different from Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, or any other so called spiritual movement in our day. The resurrection defines authentic Christianity.
No Resurrection, No John 3:16 – Probably the most famous verse in the Bible: For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. To believe in Christ is to have confidence in Christ. To trust Christ. It’s faith. What good is that, if Jesus Christ was conquered by death? To believe that the Lord is able to take care of you in times of testing, hurt, and when you draw that last breathe . . . and He didn’t make it? That’s worthless faith. That’s believing somehow things will work out because we want them to work out. That’s stupidity. There must be some objective standard that gives credibility to faith that all those things we want to believe, will really be so. The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ does just that. God will take care of you; He will cause all things to work together for your good; He will be there when it comes time to say goodbye. It is the resurrection of Jesus Christ that gives meaning, purpose, believability to our faith.
No Resurrection, No Hope – Seneca of 1st century Rome stated: "Only Christians and idiots are not afraid to die." If Christ didn’t bodily make it to other side, that only leaves idiots. Paul says: And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. (1 Cor 15:17).
A friend of mine used to serve on a US nuclear sub. Whenever I heard him talk about his time below, my palms turned to sweat. Sitting below the North Pole, you can’t just say, ‘I’m tired of this . . . excuse me, excuse me . . . I think I’m going to run out to Walmart.’ And what if the unthinkable happens, and the sub cannot surface. ‘So sorry to leave, but I am out of here.’ No. Where that sub goes, you go.
That’s what Paul was saying: where our sins go, we go if Jesus Christ could not make it through death. He confronted the consequences of our sins and with no resurrection failed, leaving us to face the music.
But, how do you explain terrified disciples fleeing in fear when Jesus was captured, tried, and crucified . . . then afterwards morph into men of steel who were martyred? Or the rumors that ran wild that first Easter Sunday, that Jesus Christ had been bodily raised from the dead, rumors that included people actually seeing Him . . . and all the authorities had to do was walk down to the local cemetery and produce a body and they did not? Or for men and women who thought all was lost when their leader was crucified . . . to afterwards take His message and spread it no matter the price, so that 2000 years later, it has reached even you and me?
Something happened. It's why Paul did not stop with the ‘what if’s.’ Truth reigns!
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead . . . (1 Cor 15:20).
“He is risen!”
“He is risen, indeed!!”
Blessings as you rejoice in the resurrection of our Lord – Blaine