The resurrection of Jesus is the foundation of our Christian faith and the central event in the life of the Church. Yesterday, Easter Sunday, we celebrated that Jesus Christ rose from the dead and is alive to this day.
What happened that first Easter continues to be the power, hope and peace of our lives. So important is the resurrection to our faith, that that apostle Paul suggested that if Jesus has not been raised to life, then our preaching and faith is useless (1Cor 15:13). In such a scenario Jesus died a fool on the cross for nothing, and we are fools for believing it. But if it is true that God raised Jesus from the death, then we too can look forward to the day when we also will be raised from death, to life in eternity with God.
Such belief looks foolish in our contemporary world, and interestingly it has been so, right from the beginning. While the apostle Paul focuses on how the cross and not the resurrection was a stumbling block in his day (1Cor 1:23), nevertheless, it is the Easter story as a whole that is difficult for people to swallow. Paul’s contemporaries wondered how God could be hung on a human cross and die. If Jesus was an exact representation of God in human form, how could God die? Such a proposition was a scandal and a stumbling block.
Today, it is the resurrection that is quickly dismissed as myth and nonsense, along with the stories of miracles, healings and the virgin birth. Using the scientific method as a starting point many find the stories of Jesus “scientifically” wanting. And it is not surprising. The scientific approach is that “truth” is built on repeatable empirical events. Using this as the criteria of truth no one can “prove” the resurrection. Why? Firstly, because no human being witnessed the resurrection, and secondly no one has repeated it. Therefore scientifically, the resurrection is not “scientifically” true. However, that doesn’t mean it did not happen.
The early church didn’t attempt to “prove” the resurrection in a scientific way; all they did was proclaim it to be true. Those who had met the risen Jesus talked to others about their experience. Those who listened chose to believe what they heard, or not. For those who did believe, what we find is that they grew in their conviction with clear and empowering insight that what they had heard was indeed true. Jesus is alive.
Faith had dawned and understanding followed. Throughout the history of the followers of Jesus this is the way of the life of faith. By believing you begin to understand. Sadly, many people operate the other way around, assuming they need to understand to believe. But belief has never worked that way.
“By believing you begin to understand.”
We know the truth of the resurrection not because it is scientifically proven, but by faith. The Bible reveals that it is only through the grace of God that anyone believes. It is God who gifts us with the faith we need and it is through this gift we are convinced, assured and affirmed in our knowledge of the resurrection and the saving work of Jesus.
As you think about Easter Sunday may your faith in the One who rose from the dead be nourished and strengthened. Whether you are a believer or one who struggles with claims of Jesus, my prayer is that you may find faith in your heart this Easter season. If the resurrection is a stumbling block, tell Jesus about it, he’ll listen and help you. You can’t create faith yourself; it is a gift of God. And that is what the resurrection is all about—the gift of hope and faith.
I’d keen to know about your experience: Did you come to belief and then understand what it was all about?
Stephen L Baxter