Summary: An apologetic and evangelistic message on the truth and consequences of the resurrection.
Easter Sunday, 2002
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church
The Rev’d Quintin morrow
The men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest.
An American on vacation in Mexico was strolling outside his hotel in Acapulco, enjoying the sunny, warm Mexican weather. Suddenly, his attention was seized by the screams of a woman kneeling frantically in front of a child, and by the now gathering crowd of natives and tourists.
The man knew enough Spanish to determine that the child had swallowed a coin. Rushing into the circle of people, the man without thinking grabbed the child by the heels, held him upside down and shook him violently. After about a minute, an American quarter dropped from the child’s mouth and rolled down the sidewalk.
The woman who had been screaming, obviously the boy’s mother, was overcome with gratitude. In the best English she could muster she said, “Oh, muchas gracias, senor!” “You seemed to know just how to get it out of him. Are you a doctora?”
“No, senora,” the man replied sheepishly, staring down at the pavement, “actually, I work for the Internal Revenue Service.”
According to the old saw, the only two constants in this life are death and taxes. But we would be well advised to call the truth of that statement in question. You see, two thousand years ago a Jewish carpenter from Nazareth was crucified by the Romans for sedition. His body was wrapped in a linen shroud and placed in the borrowed tomb of a friend. The tomb was sealed, and soldiers of the emperor were placed to guard the entrance to prevent his corpse from being stolen. And three days later, this Jewish carpenter from Nazareth, Jesus, son of Mary, and Son of God, was resurrected from the dead. If that story is true, and I am telling you it is, then maybe death isn’t what it used to be. If this man came back from the dead, maybe He has the power to bring others back from the dead. Maybe, since one man wrestled with death and defeated it, death has been de-clawed and de-fanged. Maybe, death is dead. Maybe the only constant left in life is taxes. Imagine that.
It all hangs on the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. If He didn’t really rise from the dead, then Jesus was a liar, the Bible is fiction and Christianity is the most inviting and persuasive but evil scam ever perpetrated on the human race. Let’s be clear: There really isn’t a middle road, a place for ambivalence or much wiggle room. The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead cannot be true for me and not true for you, or true for him and not for her. It is claims to be a historically verifiable event occurring in space and time, like the invention of the telephone, the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the D-Day landings on Normandy or the sinking of the Titanic. Either the resurrection is true, or it is false. If false, then the eleven disciples of Jesus vainly died the death of martyrs, the early Christians who were fed to lions in Roman coliseums threw their lives away for nothing, and the Christians suffering today around the globe are suffering for a lie, because they all believed and believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. People will suffer and die for all sorts of silly causes, but a lie they know to be a lie isn’t one of them. Paul puts the matter rather succinctly in I Corinthians: