A pastor friend of mine said, “The first Christians didn’t talk about the Easter event as personal forgiveness and fresh starts. For the first Christians, the good news was less Here Comes Peter Cottontail and more like Game of Thrones.”
The Christian claim that one man actually died and experienced life after death (the resurrection) has always been controversial. Even in the days of the apostles, there were those who insisted, “The dead simply don’t rise. Period.” And, of course, people still adamantly hold to that view today. In fact, even Christians have sought to tone down the message of the resurrection as an actual historical event, preferring instead to see it as a metaphor for new life and hope. The story of Jesus’ resurrection, they say, is like the springtime—it is beautiful, helps us through our existential struggles, and helps us endure difficult times; but nothing supernatural actually occurred. Did the resurrection actually happen in human history? Many insist that believing so is naïve. Death has the final say. To believe otherwise it so delude yourself.
But the fundamental question is this:
- What kind of story are we part of?
- Is ours a story of survival of the fittest, of random chaos in an infinitely large universe, of human life emerging as an accident of chemistry?
- Is it a story of being born, living a short and meaningless life, and then dying—end of story?
For those who hold these as their basic, unquestionable presuppositions, the resurrection sounds like foolishness. But if you believe that life was created by a caring God who is working to redeem a fallen creation and has revealed himself to us, a historical event called the resurrection makes perfect sense.
The good news the people of God have proclaimed for generations is that Jesus Christ is risen. It was the one defining moment for all of history.
The true nature of the kingdom of God was revealed once and for all when God was so pleased with his servant Jesus Christ that he brought him back from the dead. And this historical event is a glimpse of what is in store for us all. What happened to Jesus was just the beginning; more will follow.
Doubting the fact of the resurrection is nothing new. In Paul’s day, some of the relatively new coverts at the church in Corinth wanted to be part of the Christian community, appreciated the teaching of Jesus, and desired to be good, moral people. However, when it came to this radical teaching about life emerging from death, these people balked. For this reason, Paul wrote to the church: