The Resurrection. The knowledge of it and its reality changed my life. It took God from abstract philosophy to reality. To consider even the possibility was, one day many years ago, presented to me as a choice. Imagine encountering one dead, then several days later alive. It would shake one to its core. Wasn’t this the intention of God? He took on human form and did something that no one but deity could do; after dying, He came back to life. This demonstration was motivated by kindness and the same love that brought Him here. We often struggle with doubt and, if you’re like me, you have asked God to make Himself clear, to eliminate doubt. He did. He did the one thing that could surpass all others in revealing His reality and eliminating doubt. He died and became alive again.
No matter when in history it occurred, only a handful of people could be eyewitnesses. The rest would hear and be invited to believe what had happened. The behavior of the eyewitnesses completely supports the occurrence. They supported the truth of this incredible fact with their lives. Their lives changed as dramatically as you would expect any to change when confronted with such a reality. Nothing else mattered. They encouraged others to believe the same but their assurance of the truth of the resurrection did not waver when confronted by many who refused to believe and called them fools for believing so. They left for us a legacy of faith, a demonstration of what it would be like to encounter such a circumstance and such a Man.
No longer could Jesus be described as a “good teacher”, or a “wise man”. No longer could God be an abstract unknown. We don’t have that liberty of choice after the resurrection. He put on skin, revealed a personality, and did what no mere “man” could do.
Either the whole thing is a lie, a scheme, a monumental deception that many men and women were willing to die for, or it is the truth. We have no other choices. Many speak of the difficulty in believing such a story. It is, however, quite a logical leap to believe that it was all concocted by simple men who gave their lives teaching about honesty and sincerity of belief. They were stoned, beaten, and lived lives without any earthly benefit for their belief. They did not gain any of the things that would typically motivate a lie. Paul spent years in prison and would have won his freedom by simply renouncing this “lie”. His writings in chains reveal a remarkable, unwavering, sincerity of belief, even writing to “rejoice always” because, in spite of all suffering, God was real and had demonstrated His reality in the resurrection. He suggested over and over that Jesus had demonstrated that God could be known, that He had a heart “for us” like that of a good father. He suggested that all doubts as to the nature of God had been settled in Jesus, and supported by the resurrection.
I remember my first encounter with this resurrection as a young adult and the choices that followed, leading me to begin a relationship that is still transforming me, with the one, Jesus, who still lives, still leads, still forgives and still loves all who come to Him, as they are (flawed, skeptical, doubting and needy).
It is so good to remember all of this today as we celebrate Easter.