Summary: The Resurrection - myth or reality
Story: There is a story told, about a painting of Goethe’s Faust on display in the magnificent Louvre Museum in Paris, France.
In the picture, Faust is seated at a table engaged in a competitive game of chess.
And at first glance, it looks like Faust is losing. His opponent in the chess game is Satan. The devil sits there grinning smugly.
He thinks he has the victory in hand.
He is pointing at the chessboard with an evil leer and he is gloating.
As you look at the painting, you can almost hear the devil shouting:
"Checkmate! Game’s over! I win!"
However, a person with a keen eye who knows the game of chess can see that the match is not over at all.
Just a few years ago, an internationally famous chess player was admiring the painting when all of a sudden he lunged forward and exclaimed:
"Wait a minute! Look! Faust has another move and that move will give him the victory!"
The painting is something of a parable for us Christians, because here we see symbolized the good news of Easter.
Think of it. When we look at the Cross on Good Friday, it looks (at first glance) like evil has won.
It looks like the defeat of righteousness.
It looks like goodness is dead and buried forever.
It looks like Jesus has been silenced and conquered.
But then, Easter Sunday morning reveals God’s move, the greatest checkmate move of all time.
Christ comes out of the grave and into our lives with power and victory.Eric S. Ritz, The Ritz Collection.
Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. But is it true?
Professor Charlie Moule, the famous NT theologian once said:
"the birth and rapid rise of the Christian Church ... remains an unsolved enigma for any historian who refuses to take seriously the only explanation offered by the church itself - the resurrection." (C.F.D. Moule, The Phenomenon of the New Testament).
Most Sundays we profess our faith in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead when we say the words of the Creed:
“ I believe ..….in Jesus Christ,
his only Son our Lord who was
Conceived by the Holy Spirit,
Born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, dead and buried
He descended into Hell;
The third day he rose again from the dead”
(The Apostles Prayer - BCP)
The Resurrection is a major pillar of our faith
St. Paul put it like this:
“..if Christ has not been raised from the dead, your faith is futile” (I Cor. 15: 17)
With such a ridiculous claim, have you ever stopped to consider the question:
“How on earth did Christianity ever get
off the ground?”
What do I mean?
There are a number of logical reasons why Christianity should never have got off the ground?
1. His background
Firstly, its founder, Jesus of Nazareth was an obscure carpenter from a backwoods of the Roman Empire Israel.
He wasn’t even a priest or a civil dignitary or a general.
He didn’t come from the one big city in Israel -Jerusalem, but from a rural backwoods – Nazareth in Galilee.
2. Political and Religious support
Jesus: The “Good and the Great” in the land did not flock to his gospel.
In fact quite the reverse. They rejected his message.
Only the common people took him to heart – and at the end they deserted him.
Mohammed: In contrast when the founder of Islam, Mohammed died, he left an empire and a powerful army in place to defend it.
Buddha. By the time Buddha had died, he had enlisted the nobility of Nepal in his cause.
3. Short term ministry
Jesus: Jesus only ministered for three and a half short years.
Mohammed: When Mohammed died, he had ministered close on 40 years and had left a book – “The Koran”.
Buddha: When the Buddha died he too had taught for many years and left his “Writings”.
Jesus: Jesus himself wrote nothing and at the time of his death, none of the New Testament books had been written. Unlike Mohammed - who commanded a mighty army until his death, Jesus didn’t even hold a civic office.
4. His death
Jesus: Jesus was put on trial on trumped up charges and crucified – an event we remember each year on Good Friday. His followers fled and left him to it.
They fled back to Galilee and that should have been the end of it.
Mohammed/Buddha: In contrast Mohammed died with great honour and had set up a state machinery to continue the religion he had founded – as did the Buddha in Nepal..
In short, Jesus had all the hallmarks of a man who it wouldn’t take too long to forget.