Today is the day after Easter Sunday – the day that we celebrate Jesus being raised from the dead. What do we mean that Jesus rose from the dead? Exactly that. Jesus died on Friday and on Sunday, he was alive again. On Sunday, the tomb was empty. Jesus had risen in body from the dead. (John 20:1-10)
Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. (John 20:6-7).
God had restored Jesus physically from the dead. Jesus had a body. He was not just a spirit. The risen Jesus was seen by many people after his resurrection. For example, John, chapter 20 lists three encounters.
Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).( John 20:14-16)
On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews,[b] Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. (John 20:19-20)
Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”(John 20:26)
Paul’s letter first letter to the Corinthians also talks about several of the accounts.
Now perhaps the story of the resurrection seems too fanciful to be believable. Paul also addresses these questions:
For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ must still be dead. And if he is still dead, then all our preaching is useless and your trust in God is empty, worthless, hopeless; and we apostles are all liars because we have said that God raised Christ from the grave, and of course that isn’t true if the dead do not come back to life again. If they don’t, then Christ is still dead, and you are very foolish to keep on trusting God to save you, and you are still under condemnation for your sins; in that case, all Christians who have died are lost! And if being a Christian is of value to us only now in this life, we are the most miserable of creatures. (1 Corinthians 15:13-19)
But, why should the resurrection be any different from any other part of our salvation story? The bible is full of stories which seem crazy. Resurrection from the dead is no stranger than anything else God has done in the story of salvation. How about the sea that was divided? How about the story of the walls of Jericho which came down after being walked around seven times and yelled at? How about the story of Daniel who spent the night sleeping with lions? The list is long. Take some time and look at some of these Old Testament stories.
As I see it, either we believe that Jesus was raised from the dead and people saw him, or we don’t. However, I can’t see how you can believe some of the other stories of the bible and not believe this one. God does crazy.
As Paul puts it:
So what about these wise men, these scholars, these brilliant debaters of this world’s great affairs? God has made them all look foolish and shown their wisdom to be useless nonsense. For God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never find God through human brilliance, and then he stepped in and saved all those who believed his message, which the world calls foolish and silly. (1 Corinthians 1:20-21)
For believers in Christ, Easter celebrates the pivotal point in history when God restored our relationship to Him. For non-believers, Easter is foolishness. (1 Corinthians 1:18). If we are wrong in our belief, we have lost nothing. BUT, if we are right, we have the ultimate secret to happiness and eternal life that the world so desperately is seeking.
What do you believe?