Summary: If the resurrection is true, we need to do something about it! Respond to it. This is a fairly short talk encouraging first time commitments to Jesus
If Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead then most of what we do as a Church is a waste of time. If Jesus Christ was not raised then my job is almost entirely meaningless and I am wasting my life away; but if Jesus Christ was truly raised then we have the most important message for the world, for our town, and for our family and friends; and it means my job is the best job in the world!
So which is it – raised or not raised?
St. Paul (Saul) in his early life hated Christians. He threw many into prison and attacked the church (Acts 8:3); but after a dramatic conversion experience when he was blinded by a bright light and heard the voice of Jesus he was dramatically changed. “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Lord?” “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:4-5).
I know a few people who have had dramatic experiences, one or two hearing God speak to them with an audible voice; but most Christians I know have quietly come to believe in Jesus, and to trust that on the cross Jesus took our sin upon His very broad shoulders.
But what are we to say, to think and to believe about the resurrection? There will today be a few Vicars in the Church of England explaining away the resurrection as some kind of mystical, non-physical experience, and quite frankly, I wish they would go and do something else, because the same St. Paul later wrote these words to the church in Corinth: 1 Cor 15: 14, “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” 1 Cor 15:17, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile.” 1 Cor 15:19-20, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead.” Hallelujah!
If Christ was not raised, why did most of Jesus’ disciples face execution because they refused to stop saying that Jesus had been raised from the dead? Why did they not stop? If Christ was not raised what did they have to gain from preaching Christ crucified and risen? Why did they not shut up and go home?
Surely, they were either all mad, or spoke the truth.
Years ago, the great evangelist Billy Sunday was preparing to go into a city for a major set of evangelistic engagements. He wrote ahead of time to the mayor of the city, and said, “Would you please send me the names of people in your area who need serious spiritual help”. To Billy’s surprise, the mayor sent him the local telephone book! Jesus is for all.
When Jesus proclaimed about Himself, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” did he mean it? Was it the truth?
Jesus was either a liar, or mad, or telling the truth!
The vast majority of people, when interviewed, say that Jesus was a good man. So, if Jesus was a good man that must surely mean that he did good things for people and he told the truth, because extravagant liars don’t get classified as good men!
So which is it – raised or not raised? Well if indeed Jesus was a good man – and I believe He was the best there ever has been – then his words and His actions must be worth studying, considering, and acted upon.
If Jesus’ disciples and others who followed were killed without any resistance because they proclaimed the resurrection of Jesus, how important is it for us to ask why their faith in Jesus was so solid? What grounds did they have for such unwavering belief? Why were they so convinced about the resurrection?
The evidence for the bodily resurrection of Jesus is extensive. Former Chief Justice of England, Lord Darling said this: “In its favour as living truth there exists such overwhelming evidence, positive and negative, factual and circumstantial, that no intelligent jury in the world could fail to bring in a verdict that the resurrection story is true.”
The author of Narnia, C.S. Lewis after many years of Theological, Philosophical and Scientific investigation said this: “We are faced then with a frightening alternative.” Either Jesus was (and is) exactly what he said, or else he was insane or something worse. To C.S. Lewis it seemed clear that Jesus could have been neither insane nor evil and so he concluded: “However strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that he was and is God.”
I believe that in Jesus God took on human flesh and that He was resurrected 3 days after being crucified.