What it means!
‘Historical argument alone cannot force anyone to believe that Jesus rose from the dead; but historical argument is remarkably good at clearing away the undergrowth behind which sceptics of various sorts have been hiding.’
The resurrection of Jesus can’t ever be proved scientifically. However, all the historical data available to us, the death of Jesus, the empty tomb, the eye witness accounts and the growth of Christianity in the face of severe opposition, point to a bodily resurrection. Let’s also remember the disciples were not gullible idiots. They firmly believed that dead people stay dead, there was no expectation of a resurrection. But something happened that has caused a world-wide movement and changed the lives of millions of people – they witnessed the risen Jesus.
So what? What if he did? Well the resurrection confirms all that Jesus claimed about himself. The resurrection tells us:
Who Jesus is
All the way through the gospels Jesus is at pains to show who he is, that he is God. For those looking on Jesus is clearly no ordinary human being. His supernatural power over sickness; evil; the weather; and death – tell us that. However, it’s not until the Resurrection that the penny finally drops.
Thomas, one of the sceptical disciples is unconvinced by the claims of others: ‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.’ Thomas is understandably looking for evidence, as are many people today. At one point the risen Jesus appears to Thomas and invites him, appealing to his senses: ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’ Immediately logic and reason come together and Thomas declares: ‘My Lord and my God!’
For Thomas the Resurrection proves that Jesus is God. Of course we can’t do what Thomas did but we have his eyewitness account: ‘These things are written that you (us the readers) may believe that Jesus is the Messiah the Son of God and by believing you may have life in his name.’
The Resurrection tells us who Jesus is. He is God.
Why Jesus died
Jesus not only claimed to be God, Jesus also claimed to deal with the problem of sin. (Sin is much more than a list of ‘naughty behaviours’ it is taking the place of God and assuming self-autonomy). Jesus made this very clear: ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but those who are ill. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’ You see the death of Jesus was much more than an example of sacrificial love, it was a substitutionary death. A death in place of you and me. The beauty of the cross, is that in love, Jesus puts himself where I deserve to be, so that I am treated as he deserves to be.
But how do we know what Jesus claimed and what Jesus did is true? The answer is the Resurrection.
Early in Jesus’ ministry we find him in a crowded house and a man who can’t walk is lowered down through the roof. Jesus says something extraordinary: ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ Well anyone can say that. You can say that. I can say that. But then the account says: ‘So that you may know Jesus has authority to forgive sins, he raised the man up.’Jesus raises a lame man to prove His authority to forgive. How much more does the resurrection vindicate all that Jesus claimed! How do we know Jesus deals with sin? How do we know his death procures my forgiveness? He walked out of the tomb!
The Resurrection tells us why Jesus died. He dies my death.
What Jesus offers
Even if we don’t believe in the Resurrection we want it to be true. We want our life to matter, we want our life to go on. That’s why people get sad and angry at death. It’s why we miss loved ones and find it hard to cope. It’s why we talk about our loved ones looking down on us. It’s why we say things like ‘I feel they are with me’ or ‘I sense them giving me direction and help’. We don’t want death to be the end. We want our relationships to last forever.
You see if death was normal, if death was just part of the cycle of life then we wouldn’t get upset, we wouldn’t fear or worry. But we do – because death is not natural. It’s a curse. It’s a punishment.
‘The wages of sin is death!’ the Apostle Paul wrote. Our grief, our tears of sadness, our shouts of anger tell us that this is not meant to be. We long for something better and greater. And that’s what Jesus gives us. He gives life today and life for eternity. Listen to the words of Jesus as he was confronted with the death of his friend Lazarus: ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live even though they die.’ Jesus claims to be the one where all our hopes and dreams become a reality.
He deals with death. He offers life: 'The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.' The reality of this is seen in the resurrection of Lazarus: 'Jesus called out in a loud voice, Lazarus come out!' Death and Life obeyed Jesus and 'the dead man came out.'
The Resurrection tells us what Jesus offers. A new beginning and a fresh start.
It’s worth investigating!
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 The Gospel of John chapter 11 verses 25 - 43