There’s one thing we can all agree on — Christianity would never have gotten out of the gate if someone could have produced the corpse of Jesus.
The Christian faith has distinguished itself from the other religious beliefs by providing a basic scientific test of its legitimacy: the test of falsifiability.
If Christ is not raised from the dead, our faith is in vain. (I Cor 15:14-20) Even atheists don’t have something they can point to that meets the test of falsifiability.
The tomb of Jesus was found to be empty, and before long, the whole city was in an uproar with the claim He had risen from the dead.
Skeptics today have divided into different schools — the swoon theory, the stolen body theory, and so on — each giving their own reasons why their theory is the best explanation for what happened to the body of Jesus.
The problem is, in defending their angle, skeptics advocating for each of those rival explanations are more than happy to show all the ways that the rival explanations are so shot full of holes they cannot possibly be believed.
These skeptics don’t need CHRISTIANS to rip their theories apart… they do that well enough on their own.
Meanwhile, authors like Lee Strobel have set out to disprove Christ’s claims, only to discover they had been persuaded of their truth.
The disciples themselves claimed to have seen Jesus. They claimed He had risen from the dead. They went to their deaths rather than renounce that claim, even though there was nothing to be gained by holding on to that belief if it were not true.
NONE of the disciples cracked under the pressure to preserve their lives. So the disciples believed, they literally staked their lives on it.
But what of it? Even if they were right about the resurrection how do we make sense of the implications? What does his returning to life mean for someone then … or now?
How do you make sense of something that had even baffled the disciples themselves?
What they came to understand was the same thing that was the central conversation Jesus had on his walk to Emmaus that Easter Sunday.
And he said to them, “O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. Luke 24
What, exactly, was being fulfilled?
All of the images and metaphors God had given His people through His prophets were now having their fulfillment in Jesus.
The Passover Lamb? The sacrifice that saved them from death.
The Exodus? The Promised Land? The Law, requiring the punishment of death — or a substitute as ransom? The new covenant? All of it pointed to this moment when the Justice of God and the Mercy of God were both satisfied in one moment.
Two great truths were held in tension in direct conflict with each other.
A good God that loves his creation would want to preserve and bless them with good things.
At the same time, if even a human judge who lets the guilty walk free is a scoundrel, how much more a God who ignores the wickedness of men?
Unfortunately for us, we’re all standing on the guilty side of that ledger, and deserve the fate of the wicked… unless we could find what had been promised in the switch during Abraham’s sacrifice, or with the Lamb whose blood spared them from the fate of the Egyptians losing their firstborn sons.
By Jesus taking on our guilt, and living the perfect life the Law required of us, He could extend that life and relationship to us.
Receiving that sacrifice by faith means we accept the Sacrifice God made on our behalf. Receiving that sacrifice means accepting a whole new life to walk in.
When talking to the Pharisee, Nicodemus, Jesus called it a new birth. A new beginning. Elsewhere it was described as having our heart of stone replaced with a heart of flesh.
This is the life into which we are invited.
But not everyone will accept it. As Paul said in Acts:
And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.
You need not make the same mistake. The invitation is extended to you.
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