The reality of the resurrection is the keystone of Christianity. As the Apostle Paul said, “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. … If the dead are not raised, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.’” (1 Corinthians 14:14, 32)
Let’s tell the story again. Jesus was buried in a borrowed tomb. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus claimed the body of Christ for a hasty, but royal burial (John 19:38). The enemies of Christ guarded the tomb (Matthew 27:62-66). The first witnesses of the resurrection were a little, devoted band of women; then he appeared to many people in many different locations over a period of forty days (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).
Yes, but was he really resurrected? What are the options? If he didn’t truly die, he wasn’t truly resurrected. This is called the Swoon Theory. Jesus just fainted or, like an eastern yogi, slowed his heart down enough to fool the guards who put a spear through his heart. Fortunately, according to this increasingly silly story, the wrappings, spices and two nights rest on a cold slab were enough to heal Jesus! Then, because he was a quick healer, Jesus got up, rolled the massive stone away from the mouth of the tomb and overpowered four armed guards. This sounds more like a bad Kung-Fu movie than a viable theory!
Others believe Jesus just lived on, kept alive in the hearts of the believers. The Savior only lives figuratively, so Thomas must have figuratively touched Jesus’ hands, feet, and side! Jesus must have figurately eaten a couple of meals!
Finally, still, others believe the whole thing was a psychological phenomenon. They wanted so badly to believe Jesus was alive; they hallucinated the resurrection. But if that is the case (and I am still trying to imagine 500 people all having the same vision) why did the visions stop after 40 days?
Consider these facts. Notice how many different people saw Jesus alive after the crucifixion. Think about how many different places Jesus appeared (from Jerusalem to Galilee and back). Consider the time factor. Jesus showed himself alive for 40 days; long enough to prove the resurrection, and then they stopped.
So, what does the resurrection do for us? First, it gives us hope, and second, it gives us courage. What will you do with your hope and courage today?
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