Real Answers to the ONLY Question That Matters

Did He or didn’t He?

I once heard a sermon from a minister who was trying to please everyone (never a good idea).

 This minister was preaching about the resurrection of Jesus Christ and said “There is some controversy over whether or not Jesus ACTUALLY rose from the dead but in the end, it doesn’t really matter. All that matters is that we have ‘resurrection hope’ in our lives. That’s the real message of Easter.”

 What? Yeah, I don’t think so. Some helium filled “resurrection hope” balloon is not going to get this soul’s basket too far off the field. I need a real resurrection or I’m not playing.

I was born in the sixties and came up through the expose seventies and eighties. I’ve seen Kool-Aid cults, impeached presidents, and Batman without the suit. I don’t follow blindly.

My karate instructor must actually be able to kick butt (He can!). My writing mentor must know how to write (She does!). If I marry a guy he’d best be up for “until death do us part” (He is.), and if I worship a guy, He’d better be able to walk on water. (He can.)

So if Jesus didn’t come back from the dead, the whole faith falls apart. He’s not a good teacher or a wise guide if he said He would rise again and then remained in the ground like every other prophet before him. That makes him deluded or deceitful and, no thank you, I won’t walk the straight and narrow for a crazy man or a liar.

There are many books written by worldly, once skeptical men that explore the facts and the arguments for believing the Bible and its account of Jesus’ life. One that is very readable is “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel who began as a reporter for the Chicago Tribune. If you have questions, buy it. Read it. Read it even if you don’t have questions because if you’ve never asked the hard questions maybe you’re sleepwalking through our faith!

But to get you through Easter week-end, there are two simple defenses for the resurrection that fortify me every time.

First of all, in Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus, (that’s the whole list of men who begat other men), he makes mention of four women besides Mary, the mother of Jesus: Rahab (a prostitute), Tamar (who pretended to be a prostitute to trick her father-in-law into impregnating her), Ruth (a Moabitess – a non-Jew – a Gentile) and Bathsheba (who committed adultery with King David who subsequently had her Hittite husband, Uriah killed).

Now anyone will tell you, that if you’re making a case that your guy is King of the Jews, you avoid mentioning that his family tree includes hookers, adulterers and Gentiles. It’s certainly not the lead story in your gospel. So Matthew’s genealogy is fairly strong evidence that the disciples didn’t just decide to invent a religion. Before turning apostle, Matthew was a tax collector – that’s a Jew who was in collusion with the Romans. This is guy who understood politics and spin. He’d never start a fake defense of his guy with such scandalous material unless it was the truth.

The disciples themselves are evidence that Jesus’ rose from the dead. Do you remember these guys in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus was arrested? First of all, they couldn’t stay awake with Him and support Him on a night when He was in agony. Second of all, when the law arrived, these guys were out of there – one even ran off without his clothes he was in such a hurry. They had seen Jesus heal people, raise them from the dead, walk on water and turn Dasani into Chianti. And yet, when the soldiers marched in, the disciples scurried out like rats on a sinking ship. End Act I

Fast forward to life after the resurrection. These same men are out preaching in the streets, taking blows and beatings rather than heeding the warnings to cease and desist and announcing Jesus Christ to Roman Guards and Jewish authorities without fear, without falter, without flinching in the face of certain death. Most of the twelve eventually were martyred rather than renounce Christ (it is believed that John died a natural death in his old age). This is compelling evidence to me that Jesus actually walked out of that tomb alive. Men don’t change for nothing.

As comparison, the conspirators in the Watergate scandal fell apart with their stories in little over two weeks of pressure and that bunch of weasels didn’t fear for their lives, just their livelihoods, jail time and finances. They turned on each other in a heartbeat and the whole thing unraveled faster than a cat with Grandma’s ball of yarn.

For men to change from ship rats to martyrs there had to be a catalyst – and there was. Jesus was dead on Friday and alive on Sunday. Alone in a tomb, wrapped in grave cloths, under heavy Roman guard, after having been beaten, crucified and speared in the side – he did not “revive” and force a massive piece of granite out of the way and overwhelm men with swords. No one hid his body and decided to start a false religion that would cost them their lives.

Jesus rose from the dead. Every human must deal with this historical fact. 

Jesus rose from the dead. You must deal with this fact. 

Jesus rose from the dead. I must deal with this fact. 

Jesus rose from the dead. This is our only resurrection hope – Jesus rose from the dead.

Don’t worship a guy just because he tells a good story and can do amazing tricks with fish and chips. 

But if the guy who healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, and raised people from the dead actually gets up out of His own grave and shares your fish and chips, now that’s the power of God.

That empty grave is the defining moment of our faith. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that it doesn’t matter if Jesus really rose from the dead as long as we cling to the symbol of the resurrection! I don’t bank my life on symbolism, baby, and neither should you.

I serve the True, the One, the Living God with the power to give eternal life and that empty tomb is everything. 

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  1. Anonymous says:

    As always, you are honestly blunt. And I can deal with it!