Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Centrality of the Resurrection

I had a bit of a rough day today.

It happens to everybody. I've come off a long, stressful stint of business at the church. The pressures of life continue to chip away. In addition, a few big things happen that are very rare, but that heap on the stress. Days like this don't happen to me too often, so when I get like this, I think it's a much bigger deal than it probably is.

However, when I get like this, I tend to turn to the thing that, for some reason, gets me back on track: deep thought. Don't ask me why, but deep thought about some important issue gets me back on my feet. I think and then I write. I guess it's just the way I'm wired. Tonight, my thinking is on the resurrection of Jesus.

It has come to my attention recently that many Christians today don't believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus. Some have written about this, and I have blogged about it here. It's down right scary if you want to know the truth. The resurrection was the primary event in the life of Jesus, the primary theme in the preaching of the apostles, and the thing that makes Jesus different from every other religious leader ever. If you take the resurrection away from Christianity, you get foolishness. Insanity. Why would a group of people claim to follow a dead guy? I would argue that the resurrection is an, perhaps the, essential ingredient needed to call oneself a Christian. Other issues that we would call important, virgin birth, gifts of the Spirit, the Trinity, should hopefully be there too, but one could conceive of a Christian who had not fully accepted one of those issues yet. I cannot conceive of a Christian who denies the resurrection. The death and resurrection of Jesus is central to the Christian faith.

Tonight as I was pondering this, I read again 1 Corinthians 15, where Paul is arguing for the resurrection. What a statement he makes. Paul states that if Jesus was not raised from the dead...

1. Our faith is useless
2. We are misrepresenting God, and
3. We are still in our sins.

He goes on to say that if Christ has not been raised, we may as well eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die. This is all we have. However, if Christ has been raised from the dead, then we are no longer in our sins and death is not the end for us. We, too, can be raised from the dead like Jesus was. Which do I choose...?

In addition, the resurrection is not an event that a guy created in his basement wearing a bath robe. No, Jesus appeared to 500 people at the same time after he had risen from the dead. He appeared to the disciples as well. They were so convinced of this fact that they were willing to die martyrs deaths for this man. You don't do that for an executed criminal, but for a risen Lord? In a second.

And there it is. I have found myself back to a place where, despite my difficulties in life, my focus has again re-centered to Christ and what he has done for me. It is hard for me to stay depressed when I know a God who loves me as much as he does. Thank you, Lord, for your many gifts to me, and thank you for life!


Joy said...

You wrote this nearly 2 years ago . . . and no comments? Amazing. The resurrection of Jesus Christ and no one found time to applaud you on these eloquent "musings"? I, for one, a Christian prone to depression, thank you - for your refreshing reminder of Paul's musings. We are no longer in our sins - and death is not the end. Praise God!

One question, though. Although we believe that Christ was seen by 500 people after he was raised from the dead, are there any secular writings that attest to that fact? I have agnostic friends who desire empirical evidence. Is there any or must we rely on faith?

~Joy, a Christian

Nick said...

Hi Joy,

Thanks for commenting.

This is an old one. Crazy thing is I think I remember what I was going through back then.

As for your question, no, there is not much as far as secular sources. Josephus mentions it a bit, but it is a bit in question as to the legitimacy of the passage and it technically is not a secular source, as he is Jewish.

The best sources we have, Joy, are the lives and testimonies of the disciples, the early followers of Jesus, and the response of the critics (for if Jesus had not raised, surely the opponents would have gotten the body to disprove them it seems). Other than that, it is faith, an element we cannot do without.