Summary: Easter message focusing on Paul and Mary Magdelene
April 1, 2018
No Fooling . . . Jesus Rose! Maybe you’re one of the people who struggle with believing it. Maybe this crazy kind of miracle is out of your realm of believing and thinking. I’m with you. It sounds totally crazy and implausible.
There are tons of theories about the resurrection . . .
There’s the Swoon theory, which believes after Jesus died on the cross, He was wrapped in 75 pounds of linen and spices, and placed in a tomb. But He didn’t really die, but woke up and after 3 days, wriggled His arms free and rolled a 1 ton stone from the entrance and walked to the disciples telling them He rose from the dead.
Then there’s something called Docetism, which denies Jesus’ humanity, believing His humanity and suffering was an illusion.
There’s also the theory that Jesus really didn’t go to the cross. Instead a look-a-like went instead of Him. Poor guy!
The one I believe most is that Jesus went to the cross, suffered, but didn’t die. As His wounds healed, He left Jerusalem, traveled to Rome, married Mary Magdalene and they had three children, aptly named, Moe, Larry and Curly!
Ah, had to do something like that since it’s April Fools Day! That really is a belief by many people. Very sincerely, lots of people have a difficult time with Easter. We may struggle with Christmas, but coming back from the dead? And believing it? Really? Who’s the fool!?
Well, that’s exactly what the apostle Paul was alluding to in his first letter to the church in Corinth. Paul was a Jewish leader. He was being groomed to be the High Priest. He would have been like the pope. Paul hated Christ followers and was thrilled when they were executed. But then Paul met Jesus and his life changed forever. Paul became the most vocal and famous of the apostles. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul speaks at length about the resurrection. In one section he wrote this ~
32 What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus?
If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”
33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”
34 Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning.
For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.
This passage may seem a little obscure for an Easter morning. But what’s really important for us to understand . . . for Paul, the resurrection wasn’t just about life everlasting or forgiveness of sins . . . which it is . . . but for Paul, the resurrection was the central truth which brought meaning to everything he did. It was his purpose. Everything he did was based on the fact that Jesus really was alive!
Paul’s telling us everything in life is based on the fact that Jesus rose from the dead. Paul was a great debater and that’s what he’s doing in this passage. Paul’s arguing that if Jesus is alive, then we must live for Him, that’s our purpose. But if Jesus isn’t alive. If He didn’t rise from the dead, then party hard! It’s one of those black and white decisions we have to make in life. This is the most important one.
We have a decision to make. Either we’re going to follow Jesus and say He rose from the dead — or we’re going to say, NO, I’m living for myself.
So, Paul argues - -
Why do you think I keep risking my neck? Do you think I’d give up my past life and do this if I wasn’t convinced by the resurrected Jesus? Do you think I was trying to act heroic when I fought those crazy people in Ephesus? Not on your life! It’s resurrection, resurrection always, that undergirds what I do and say, the way I live. If there’s no resurrection, “Then let’s eat, and drink, the next day we die.”
Do you see his point? Why would I risk my life if this wasn’t true? I’m not an idiot. I had a great life, it was easy, I was a high ranking official. I had my own guards. What would I have gained by following Jesus and telling the world about Him? People don’t want to hear it. They don’t want to give up their way of living
Earlier in 1 Corinthians, Paul said ~
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 Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. – 1 Corinthians 15:17-19