Sunday, April 4, 2010

Reflecting on the Resurrection - The Foundation and Pinnacle of the Christian Faith

First, Happy Resurrection Sunday! As we approach this day, I am reminded that as a Christian this is not a day that we only celebrate once a year, but every day as it is the very underpinning of our faith. For you see, without the resurrection of Christ, we have no faith. The birth, work, ministry and death of Jesus Christ is all in vain without the resurrection. It was there, in that tomb, that Jesus defeated the grave and death, and it is this fact that is the very lynchpin of all that we believe and hold to be true in this life and the next.

In I Corinthians, chapter 15, the Apostle Paul gives the best dissertation in the Bible on the importance of the resurrection as he states, “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty….And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable” (verses 13, 14, 17, 19). I do not believe there is another series of verses in the entire Bible that sums up more perfectly the condition of the Christian without the resurrection. Paul goes as far as to say that if Christ did not rise than we should be pitied, and indeed we should be.

In his book Mere Christianity , C.S. Lewis sums up the work and mission of Christ this way, “I am trying to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him [Jesus]: ‘I am ready to accept Jesus as a great teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man, who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God [who rose from the dead and claimed to have the power to forgive sins] or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool; you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

I would also add that the New Testament emphasizes throughout its pages that only if the resurrection of Christ is real is the Christian faith not an illusion, and more so, the resurrection alone, single handily substantiates every claim Christ made regarding his identity and life’s purpose.

This truth is something to behold, isn’t it? Only the Christian faith professes to have an incarnate God who came to earth to be a sacrificial Savior to atone for the sins of a people who were powerless to change their sinful condition before a holy and just God. It is the Christian faith at its core that elevates the resurrection of Jesus as the means by which all who have put their faith in Him for the forgiveness of their sins will also rise one day as He did (John 20:31). It is the resurrection that is the gateway to God, the great pearl of all theology to ponder, and the crescendo of the Christian faith.

Let’s all rejoice this Resurrection Sunday with the Apostle Paul as he proclaims, “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your sting? O Hades [Grave], where is your victory?’ The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 15:50-56). Amen.

“Despite our efforts to keep him out, God intrudes. The life of Jesus is bracketed by two impossibilities: ‘a virgin's womb and an empty tomb.’ Jesus entered our world through a door marked ‘No Entrance’ and left through a door marked ‘No Exit.’” - Peter Larson

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