Resurrection on My Mind

Today for Bible study with the ladies at the senior living facility next door to us, we covered the topic of the resurrection.  This is part of a study on apologetics that they expressed interest in a few months back when I returned from my studies in Strasbourg.  Rather than leading them through this, I decided to lead the through this, a study I had put together several years ago.

Today’s discussion is on the resurrection, the central point of all Christianity.  You can believe and think whatever else you like about the Bible and Jesus, but if you aren’t on board with the resurrection you aren’t a Christian in the historical, literal sense.  It is only the resurrection that makes Jesus worthy of worship, worthy of our hope both in this life and the next.  Take away the resurrection and you have, as C.S. Lewis once opined, either an outright liar who went to a violent death knowing he was lying, or a lunatic who couldn’t distinguish fantasy from reality.  Only with the resurrection do you have a third option, the Lord.  Jesus clearly thought of himself as divine, and saw his death and resurrection as the undeniable proof of that reality.

Preparing for tonight’s seminar at the local community college it crossed my mind that if, for some strange reason, our speaker wasn’t able to make it, I would need to be ready to fill in.  What an amazing relief it was to know that I already had a topic fresh in mind, the center of the Christian faith and the target of the apologetic – confronting the crucified and resurrected person of Jesus of Nazareth, Messiah, incarnate Son of God.

This really is the center of it all.  We can have theological discussions all day long, but if the resurrected person of Jesus is never brought up, those discussions really have no use.  They only become useful and interesting in light of the empty tomb.  This is the single-most important detail of the Christian faith and it is the easiest to bypass, exactly because it is so difficult to fathom.

Vacuous talk about how Jesus loves you really has no meaning aside from his death and resurrection.  The love of Jesus is made manifest specifically in his incarnation, death, resurrection, ascension, and promised return.  The love of Christ is objective, in other words.  I don’t get to make it mean what I want it to mean.  I don’t get to say that Jesus loves me enough to let me do what I want or what I prefer.  I have to say that Jesus loves me enough to die for me and rise again to assure me of the forgiveness of my sins and my hope for eternity.  The irony is that what ought to be the best news in the world is treated as second-rate, non-essential dogma by so many in and out of the Church.

There truly is no better news than this.  Jesus overcomes our universal enemy – death.  He doesn’t come for social reform or political revolution or economic policy.  He comes to destroy the thing that transcends the best and worst of all our machinations, death.  Don’t forget to share that, if you’re in a position to talk with someone about your faith.  Whatever else we feel or think about our faith is anchored in this historical and theological reality.  It’s worth talking about when all else becomes unnecessary or inconsequential.

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