Summary: But what would happen if we applied alternative history to Easter? What if Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead? What would happened if Easter was Erased?
Many of you watch annually It’s A Wonderful Life. George Bailey, the movie’s main character, has spent his entire life giving of himself to the people of Bedford Falls. Bailey loses $8,000 through no fault of his own and fears he will be sent to jail and his company will collapse. Thinking of his wife, their young children, and others he loves will be better off with him dead, he contemplates suicide. But the prayers of his loved ones result in a gentle angel named Clarence coming to earth to help George Bailey. The angel shows George Bailey what things would have been like if he had never been born. You see the town of Bedford Falls without the positive life of George Bailey. In a nightmarish vision, Bedford Falls sinks into a deep pit of sex and sin, those George loves are either dead, ruined, or miserable. Bailey realizes that he has touched many people in a positive way and that his life has truly been a wonderful one.
Imagine a magic eraser that can erase any event in history. With just a stroke of this eraser, a moment of history would be gone forever. The question is – if that was true, what impact moving forward would that have in our lives? What if history was rewritten? There’s a whole field of study called Alternative History. The question becomes what would be different in the present if certain things did not happen in the past? The idea is to look back at a past event, and to identify a point divergence – and start there by hypothetically erasing it. You then extrapolate forward what the consequences would be by erasing that moment in history. “What if Robert E. Lee had won the Battle of Gettysburg?” “What if John Wilkes Booth had missed when he shot President Abraham Lincoln?” Even recent TV shows have picked up on this kind of thinking, a Hulu TV series entitled, 11.22.63, is based on the book by Stephen King. An English teacher from Maine travels back in time in order to prevent the assassination of JFK on November 22, 1963. Still others you are watching the TV series, The Man in the High Castle, which seeks to answer the intriguing question: “What if Nazi Germany had won WWII?”
Speaking of alternate history, have you heard about the President and his wife visiting her hometown? The two drove past a service station when they saw one of the First Lady’s former boyfriends working behind the counter. The President put his arm around his wife and said, “Well, honey if you had stayed with him, you would be the wife of a customer service manager today.” She smiled and said, “No, if I had stayed with him, he would be President.”
Let’s think about your personal life for moment. What would your life look like had you chosen to marry? Or, what would your life look like had you chosen to remain single? What if you had you pursued your dreams rather than following your parents’ choice for you?
But what would happen if we applied alternative history to Easter? What if Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead? What would happened if Easter was Erased?
We’re finishing a series entitled The Greatest Week in History. In fact, the entire Bible pivots on one weekend in Jerusalem about 2,000 years ago. Turn with me to 1 Corinthians 15 and good morning to my friends at Cross Church. Look at the Communication Card you’ve been given with me and in a few moments I am going to invite you to respond.
Background to 1 Corinthians 15
The believers in Corinth began to question whether the dead were to be raised. These new believers understood that if they placed their faith in this crucified Messiah, they too would one day rise from the grave. Now, the people at Corinth began to question this. They had believed for only a short while, yet Christian loved ones had died and there was no resurrection.
“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
“Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:12-19).