Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
April 6, 2009
Dispel any doubts and rejoice, for Christ is risen!
The empty tomb, by itself, does not tell us much. Jesus' body, after all, could have been stolen by grave robbers. But there is more. There are Jesus' appearances to fearful disciples, to despondent disciples and to unbelieving disciples.
Strange appearances, but appearances that led those disciples to an unexpected
realization – Jesus, the purported messiah who had been so cruelly tortured and killed, had risen bodily from the dead.
Despite his bloody tortures, he was not in need of medical attention and a long
convalescence. Jesus had risen in a transformed, glorified state. He could disappear or walk through walls and yet eat a fish. He could go unrecognized by those who knew him well and yet at the mention of a person's name or in the breaking of the bread, he would be suddenly recognized.
This Easter, as at other Easters, the voices of the skeptical will be amplified by the media. We will be told that perhaps Jesus' body was stolen; perhaps he didn't really die on the cross, was resuscitated and went to live with Mary Magdalene; or that the appearances of Jesus were really fevered imaginings in the minds of distraught disciples.
It will all be in the interest of discrediting the central article of Christian faith – that Jesus rose bodily from the dead and that the only lasting hope for fallen humanity is to be baptized and share in the new life that God offers through the resurrection.
Perhaps the public expression of such doubts should be welcomed. They do not stand up to serious scrutiny and the opportunity to make the case for the resurrection may lead people to faith.
The disciples too had their doubts and the Gospels made no secret of their skepticism. But, one by one, those disciples came to acknowledge that this was no hoax, that Jesus Christ truly is risen.
Once they came to that belief, their lives were filled with new energy and they strove to proclaim that truth to an unbelieving world.
It would have been so much easier for them to return to their lives as fishermen and tax collectors than to perpetrate a crazy hoax about the resurrection. Instead, they left everything to witness to the astounding truth that they had witnessed and then to endure lives of ridicule, persecution and eventual martyrdom. Would you make that choice for the sake of an illusion?
Perhaps the best argument for the truth of the resurrection is the astounding growth of Christianity over the past two millennia. The Pharisee Gamaliel told the council that if the Jesus movement was a human undertaking, it would surely fail, but if it was of God, no person would be able to stop it (Acts 5.38-39).
The Christian faith is not a hoax or mass delusion. It is rooted in truth, astounding truth. Christ is risen indeed. May we never fear to proclaim that truth.
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