Resurrection? Really?

Pastor James
April 14, 2022

This coming Sunday is called Easter Sunday. The name "Easter" has a complicated origin, going back to some ancient, pagan spring festivals. But what it means for Christians is very simple and clear: it commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which occurred around 30 AD. 

At this point, you might roll your eyes and say, "I can't believe people actually believe that stuff!" When you say that, you are showing a right understanding of what resurrection is. Resurrection is not resuscitation. Resuscitation means reviving someone from unconsciousness or death. It can, and does, happen in hospitals and ambulances, etc. Resurrection is a different story altogether. When a person is resurrected, he will never die again like those who have been merely resuscitated to life. No man can bring about resurrection; it is impossible under the laws of nature. 

Christianity proclaims Jesus' resurrection, not resuscitation. And it preaches it as an absolutely unique event. All others who came back to life eventually died again. But the Christian message is that "an empty grave is there to prove [the] Savior lives" ("Because He Lives")! That's what you have a hard time believing and I understand that. There are other things that are hard to believe. On a pleasant day like today, death may seem unreal, too. But at least we know it happens every day, everywhere. But Jesus' resurrection is not something that is repeated or repeatable in this world. 

But can we say that an event did not happen if it is repeated? Can we prove that nothing happens, nor can anything happen, outside the laws of physics, ever? Carl Sagan the cosmologist famously said, "The Cosmos is all that is or was or ever will be." That's a bold, elegant statement, for sure. But how does he know? Only an omniscient being can make such a declaration. Isn't it a leap of faith to say that nothing exists outside of the material universe? 

The Bible recognizes that the message of Jesus' resurrection is a scandal to the Jews and folly to the world (1 Corinthians 1:23)! Even Jesus' disciples had a hard time believing it--until He appeared to them after His resurrect-tion! Consider also Paul of Tarsus. He was once a fierce persecutor of Christians. But he suddenly became the most ardent preacher of the Christian message. As a result, he was persecuted and he died a martyr's death. Why? He says many times in his letters that it was because he met the resurrected Jesus on his way to persecute Christians in Damascus! 

Jesus' resurrection is certainly not an ordinary phenomenon. It was not even a rare event. It was meant to be an absolutely unique, unprecedented, one-of-a-kind event! How could it be anything else if it was meant to break the universal reign of death (against the laws of nature) and bring in the gift of eternal life? And precisely because it's a unique event of enormous significance, it ought to be proclaimed as good news! 

There are plenty of great religious, moral teachings out there--profound, insightful, inspirational, and life-changing! But what do they do about the problem of death? Can anyone claim to have solved the problem of death if he is himself defeated by it? If we die without fear like Socrates, can we say we defeated death? And can we say we have addressed any of life's problems if we have not solved the problem of death? 

The Bible speaks of God's plan of redemption, which goes beyond the benefits that philosophy and self-help literature can offer, beyond merely helping us fix our bad habits, or cope with the adversities and tragedies of life. According to the divine plan of redemption, death is not to be merely ignored as long as possible until we die, or accepted as a fact of life when we die. “For the wages of sin is death...” (Romans 6:23). 

Jesus' resurrection is not just a metaphor for turning over a new leaf in life. Paul claimed that the truth of Christianity depends on this historical event: “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14). Because God made us body and soul, and because both our body and soul were corrupted by sin, both must be redeemed from sin and death. That is why the Son of God came in the flesh and died for our sin and physically rose again from the dead. God does not just promise eternal life and make us wait until after we die to find out. Jesus' bodily resurrection is the evidence that Jesus has conquered death and those who believe in Him shall be redeemed both body and soul on the appointed day to live eternally in God’s presence! We invite you to place your trust in Jesus Christ, who is the Resurrection and the Life, and receive God's free gift of forgiveness and eternal life! Happy Resurrection Sunday!