Dear members and friends:
Overheard at a New York City cabstand between two drivers: “Resurrection Sunday, big deal! Even if I believed that some guy rose from the dead, what difference would that make to me?” Interesting question – and not all that unlikely that you might hear it. And if you did, how would you answer it?
It seems possible that the Apostle Paul either heard a question like that, or was anticipating a question like that from the people of the church in Corinth, for he writes to them: “And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!” (1 Corinthians 15:17)
The resurrection IS a big deal. This Easter more than 2 billion Christians all around the world celebrated the resurrection as THE central truth of the Christian faith. If Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead, too many of us have taken on too much theological and moral baggage which would be better left for the trash man.
Most of us understand the necessity of the Messiah’s Resurrection for the forgiveness of our sins. His triumph over death proved that His sacrifice was acceptable. Perhaps less easily understood is the promise that we who believe in Him will be resurrected as He was.
The promise of resurrection and the life to come is a very big deal. It may seem elusive and mysterious to some of us, but remember that for the Jewish people, this concept is more certainly elusive. This is not only tragic but ironic, since resurrection from the dead (techiat ha-metim in Hebrew) is a decidedly Jewish concept which grew out of the Messianic hope of the Hebrew Scriptures. “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine like brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever.” (Daniel 12:2-3)
In Bible times, resurrection was hotly debated among the Jewish leadership. Paul used this
conflict to his advantage when he stood trial before the Sanhedrin. Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees. He cried out in council, “Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee; concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged!” (Acts 23:6)
The Pharisees believed in a resurrection while the Sadducees did not, primarily, the latter argued, because it was not taught in the first five books of Moses. That is exactly why Jesus quoted from Exodus 3 when addressing the Sadducees concerning the resurrection: “But Moses showed in the burning bush passage that the dead are raised, when he called the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ For He is not the God of the dead but of the living, for to Him all are alive.” (Luke 20:37-38)
Paul knew very well the relevance of Jesus’ resurrection. Paul taught that Jesus’ resurrection proved everything He had said about Himself to be true. Every promise, every miracle, every claim He ever made was proven true when Jesus conquered death.
This is a very big deal indeed. Because He lives, as Christians we can stand against the rising tide of secularism, political correctness and forced “tolerance” to proclaim with Peter and John, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
I know that one day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. But until that glorious day, we have the privilege of declaring this timeless life-altering truth to all who will listen: Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!
That is a big deal.
Serving faithfully, in His name,