Summary: If Jesus was still in the tomb, and not a living contemporary, then however, great a man and teacher He was, He is of no more value to us than any other dead man. Any religion will do if the best only gets you to the grave.
A mother said to the toy salesman, "Isn't this a rather complicated toy for a small child?" The
salesman responded, "This madam is an educational toy. It is especially designed to help a child
adjust to living in the world of today. No matter which way he puts it together, it will be wrong."
This might seem to be an overly pessimistic view of modern life, but the fact is, in spite of all the
advances man has made, they have gained no more happiness, but possibly even less because of all
the tension that goes with modern living.
There seems to be no great purpose behind it all, and no great goal toward which man moves.
Progress is an end in itself, and all that is assumed to be progress is built on a very uncertain
foundation. The lack of a unifying principle has left modern man in confusion. We know more than
ever, but for what end? We have more than ever, but for what purpose? What good are improved
means if one has not established improved ends? What good is it that we can move faster than ever if
we don't know where we are going?
Theodore Gill has said, "We have studied our poor paradoxical, chaotic society, and analyzed it,
and graphed it, and put it down on charts and missed the point completely. We have made of life a
bridge without ends: A laughable thing that starts nowhere and doesn't go anywhere, and so does
nothing in between." We live in an activist society where everyone is going like mad and working
like mad, but where few ever stop and ask themselves why? Activity without a goal or purpose is
futility. Men fear to ask the question why, for it scares them. Why always gets into the realm of the
ultimate, and a secular society does not care about the ultimate. The Christian, however, cannot be
content on that level. The poet has described what is going on in our secular society.
Many the voices, in print and sound,
Flinging their self-serving "How's" around:
How to succeed and how to be clever,
How to provide without future endeavor,
How one's resources to multiply,
How to live fully-but never a Why.
Lord, give us voices to help us know
The why and the whither of ways we go;
Voices that give to our life more meaning,
Voices to solace whatever life's gleaning,
Dependable voices, relaying thy word,
Above life's confusion and strife to be heard.
That prayer has already been answered. The Apostle Paul has been just such a voice through all
the ages to give Christians a unifying principle for life. That principle is the fact of, and the
awareness of, the reality of the Risen Redeemer. That which gives all of life and doctrine meaning is
the Resurrection. The fact that Jesus is alive and is a contemporary Christ is the foundation on which
we build. Jesus is not a once upon a time Savior, but He is a contemporary Savior. All history is
unified in Christ, for He was, He is, and He shall ever be. When people lose the awareness of this
reality they lose that which makes Christianity unique and distinct from all other religions.
In Ralph Turnbull's book, The Pathway To The Cross, he tells the story of a Moslem who said
to a Christian, "We Moslem's have one thing you Christians do not have. When we go to Medina we
find a coffin and know that Mohammed lived because his body is in the coffin. But when you
Christians go to Jerusalem you find nothing but an empty tomb." "Thank you," said the Christian.
"What you say is absolutely true, and that makes the eternal difference. We find in Jerusalem an
empty tomb because our Lord lives and we serve a risen Christ."
If Jesus was still in the tomb, and not a living contemporary, then however, great a man and
teacher He was, He is of no more value to us than any other dead man. Any religion will do if the
best only gets you to the grave. If death ended the life of Christ and the cross was the last chapter in
His story, then we might just as well be pagans, or godless altogether, and join those who live without
purpose or hope. There is no unifying principle that can make life meaningful unless it goes beyond
the grave. If death ends all, then all is ultimately meaningless. Browning cried out in a passionate
If this be all
And other life awaits us not-for one
I say tis a poor cheat, a stupid bungle,
A wretched failure. I, for one, protest
Against it, and I hurl it back with scorn.
If death is the end, the toy salesman was right, and the best kind of toy to teach children to adjust