Over Easter the New York Times ran an article that commented in passing that Easter Sunday is the day Christians honour Jesus’ “resurrection into heaven.” A mistake which, once pointed out, was quickly corrected. Nevertheless, such an error reminds us of the growing ignorance in our Western world of Christian belief.
This year’s Easter has come and gone and life returns to normal, almost as if the resurrection has no effect. But it wasn’t like that on the first Easter. I wonder whether Easter should make more of an impact in our lives. Maybe we too reflect the ignorance of the rest of our community. Read more . . .
There many things people find difficult about Jesus. One of them is believing his resurrection actually took place. In fact, the majority of Australians today consider such a view unreasonable, unrealistic, irresponsible and irrelevant.
Yet sadly, as never before, many in our community, families, schools, and businesses need to know the reality and power of the resurrection more than ever. Despite our affluence, many lives are full of despair, disillusionment and brokenness, while some endure a living death. They need resurrection, not just at the end of their lives, but tomorrow and next week. They need something to help them see past their misery and depression in hope and anticipation. Simon Greenleaf (1783-1853) one of the principle founders of the Harvard Law School, and possibly one of the greatest legal minds who ever lived, believed the resurrection of Jesus Christ was a hoax and set out to disprove it. He was certain that a careful examination of the internal witness of the Gospels based upon his famous Treatise on the Law of Evidence (still in print today) would dispel all the myths at the heart of Christianity.
However, after a thorough examination of the evidence he came to the exact opposite conclusion. “It was impossible,” he wrote, “that the apostles could have persisted in affirming the truths they had narrated, had not Jesus Christ actually risen from the dead…”
Wouldn’t it be exciting if those we know facing hard times and are sceptical about the resurrection, came to the same realisation as Greenleaf and could see the resurrection for what it is? Life would take on new meaning and depth for them.
Wouldn’t it be exciting if those facing hard times could see the resurrection for what it is?
Believing in the resurrection brings hope and helps to bring appreciation that there is more to life than we face now. In the midst of our trials and struggles, we need to be reminded that God loves resurrection and is willing to bring it to our lives today. However, there is a catch. The paradox to resurrection life is that you cannot have it without dying first. God only gives resurrection life to those who need it. So many of us want such life but without the dying part.
Yet, surprising as it may seem, when we go through difficult times we are closer to experiencing resurrection life than before. It is as if the experience of suffering and despair herald the coming of resurrection. What difficult things are you currently facing that God wants to see changed? He is longing for you to reach out and trust him for the impossible, bringing new life out of dead things.
Are you ready to trust him?
Stephen L Baxter
Did you know that the word Easter comes to us from the word “eastern” or “easterly?” That was the direction that a worshipper from the west should face when they reflect on the place of their redemption – namely Jerusalem.
From the Bible there is little evidence that Jesus was worshipped before the resurrection, yet it is certainly clear he was afterwards. In one of Paul’s early letters written to the church in Corinth around 55 AD, we read the famous Maranatha prayer, “Come O Lord”. Here Paul uses the Aramaic expression Maranatha giving us an insight into the prayer life of the early Jewish followers of Jesus. They knew he was alive and longed for his return just as he promised.
The resurrection had changed their lives completely. They hadn’t seen the resurrection, only the angels saw that, but they had seen the resurrected Jesus. This was no wishful thinking that came true in a dream or a vision. No, the focus in the Bible is that Jesus took the initiative and “appeared” before his disciples. In fact 1 Corinthians 15 says he appeared to a number of different groups and individuals at different places times in different places, even up to 500 people at one time.
On Easter Sunday we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus. It stands as the focus of our faith as we join with millions through history and around the world in celebrating the bodily resurrection of Christ. Without the resurrection there is no faith and reason to worship. But with it everything is changed. Death has been defeated, and victory over sin has been declared. This is the hope of the world, the promise of new life for everyone, everywhere. May your life and family be full of this hope today and throughout the coming year.
Stephen L Baxter