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Summary: The Resurrection of Jesus - what foolishness unless.........

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NR 27-03-05

Mt 28:1-10: A post Resurrection story of Jesus

Story: On Maundy Thursday (24th March 2005) there was an article in the Daily Telegraph which stated:

“Less than half of Britons know why Christians celebrate Easter, according to new research. Only 48 per cent of adults questioned for a survey were aware that the festival marks the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

About 40 per cent were able to name Judas Iscariot as the man who betrayed Jesus, while a quarter recognised the name of Dr Rowan Williams as the Archbishop of Canterbury, and only eight per cent knew that Karol Wojtyla is Pope John Paul II.

The poll, commissioned by Reader’s Digest, showed that 64 per cent believe in God and 58 per cent in an afterlife. Thursday 24th March 2005 Daily Telegraph (http://www.opinion.telegraph. co.uk/news main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005 /03/23/neast23.xml)

The majority of people still call themselves Christian, at least in a loose sense.

In New Romney for example the last published Government statistics show 77.7% who claim to be Christian.

Yet we are woefully ignorant - as a country - of the meaning of Easter

And yet, the Resurrection of Jesus - which we celebrate at Easter - is a major pillar of our faith

Every Sunday 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)

Why is the Resurrection important to the Christian faith?

Because it is the reason that the Church has grown from a “backwater sect” of Judaism to the major world religion.

As 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).

Because without it – our faith is a waste of time .

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. Jesus’ background

Firstly, its founder, Jesus of Nazareth was an obscure carpenter from a back woods 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 what the Jews themselves considered “hill billy country” – Nazareth in Galilee.

In those days if you wanted to make an impact on the world’s stage – the conventional wisdom was that you had to go and live in Rome, Athens or Alexandria.

No one wanting to make a name for himself would consider spending time in Jerusalem, let alone Galilee

2. Political and Religious support

(Jesus): The “Good and the Great” in Israel did not flock to his gospel, during his lifetime.

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): In contrast when Mohammed died in 633 AD he was buried with great honour. And he had set up a state machinery to continue the religion he had founded

(Buddha). Buddha died in 483 BC and too was buried with great honour. And the Nepalese nobles propagated his teaching from then on.

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