Summary: A message on the truth and consequences of the bodily resurrection of Jesus CHrist from the dead.
The Rev’d Quintin Morrow
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church
Fort Worth, Texas
“Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee?”
A philosopher once wrote that an empty tomb is a poor foundation on which to establish a world religion. It might surprise you to know that I agree. In fact, the empty garden tomb is quite incidental to the integrity of the Christian faith. What really counts is the risen Lord.
A Wisconsin fishing magazine once jokingly proclaimed in an editorial that the only thing which called the fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ into question was that the story was told by a group of fishermen.
Here are the facts of the death and resurrection.
They are relayed quite simply and wonderfully for us in Peter’s Pentecost Day sermon in Acts chapter 2.
Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves also
know--him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by law less hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that he should be held by it.
There they are. None of these facts are in dispute. Historical investigation, as well as a reasoned, impartial look at the evidence, will support them and affirm that they are true. Jesus of Nazareth died. He was buried. Three days later He rose again. His Disciples did not expect to see Him alive again, and were in fact shocked and in disbelief themselves until they saw Him for themselves. Moreover, 10 of them died martyrs rather than deny that He was risen from the dead. Men will give their lives for all sorts of crazy causes, but a lie they know to be a lie is not one of them.
What does the resurrection of Jesus Christ mean? An event this singular, unusual, and wonderful cannot be an accident and must have purpose.
Firstly, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead means that Jesus is Lord.
Before I begin to explain this affirmation, I must state an obvious fact. Our lives as human beings are typified by struggle, and we are in desperate need of spiritual guidance. Life, it seems, is a brutal competition—a competition for a parent’s affection, for an "A" in class, for admission to college, for a promotion and raise, for security, inner tranquility, and finding our purpose in this world.. Life has been called a "rat race" for just this reason. We struggle with the reality that life is at times unfair. Some people are rich, others poor. Some live to be a hundred, and others die painfully at seventeen. Some are born with wit, intelligence and good looks. Others, through no fault of their own, are born plain, disfigured or ordinary. We struggle with guilt. We constantly find ourselves unable to live up to even our own minimum standards of right and wrong, let alone our highest ideals. And so we constantly feel the accusations and the pricks and stings of conscience. Finally, we struggle with our own mortality. We know that one day we will die, and that fact makes us shiver.
And since life is a constant struggle in which seemingly no quarter is asked or given, we feel our desperate need for spiritual guidance. Human beings are spiritually hungry creatures. We long to know the answers to the questions life poses, and the solutions to its riddles. And that is why human history is replete with sages, gurus, and world-be messiahs. The list of some of these is impressive: Buddha, Zoroaster, Pythagoras, Lao Tsu, Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy, David Koresh, Jim Jones, Sun Myung Moon.
We live, and have always lived, in a world that is truly religiously pluralistic. Many have made the claim to be the enlightened one, the one who came to answer our questions and meet our deepest spiritual longings. But which one is true?
St. Paul answers that question in Acts chapter 17, during his visit to Athens. Upon seeing a multiplicity of altars to a myriad of gods, and even one erected to "The Unknown God," the apostle says to the Athenians: "What you have worshipped as unknown, I will proclaim to you." And after boldly declaring the existence of the God of the Hebrews, He concludes:
[Now this God] commands all men everywhere to repent, because he has appointed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising him from the dead.