Faces on Faith: Christ Is Risen! Risen Indeed?
Sunday, March 24, is what Christians refer to as Palm Sunday. It commemorates the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem when his followers waved palm branches, shouting hosannas and crying out for Jesus to save them.
It also begins the journey of holy week … which includes all of the events leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus on Friday and His resurrection on Sunday.
Virtually no one would question that there really was a historical Jesus who did and said amazing things. Furthermore, there is little question about the events of his final week, including the crucifixion. Even the Jewish historian, Josephus, wrote of the crucifixion. However, when the conversation turns to the resurrection, the dialogue changes.
For some the statement that Christ is risen is a declaration. For others it is more of a question. If it is a question, I think it is the most important question of all time. As Dwight L. Moody wrote, “The resurrection is the keystone of the arch on which our faith is supported. If Christ has not risen, we must impeach all those witnesses for lying. If Christ has not risen, we have no proof that the crucifixion of Jesus differed from that of the two thieves who suffered with him.”
Evangelist Billy Graham has said, “The entire plan for the future has its key in the resurrection.”
What you do or don’t believe about the resurrection of Jesus Christ influences what you believe about life, and eternity. Timothy Keller, in his book, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism wrote, “If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said; if he didn’t rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching, but whether or not he rose from the dead.”
Is the belief in the resurrection of Jesus accepted on blind faith? Is there evidence?
For starters, we must be confronted with an empty tomb. Secondly, there were more than 500 witnesses over a period of 40 days who saw Jesus before He went back to heaven. Third, the Bible message that has stood the test of historical and archeological scrutiny. Fourth, we know 11 transformed men who all were tortured or died rather than deny the resurrection. Would they die for a lie? And finally, transformed lives more than 2,000 years later, including men and women who continue to suffer or die for their faith.
Journalist Lee Strobel, Yale graduate and former legal editor of the Chicago Tribune, was a spiritual skeptic who sought to disprove the resurrection of Jesus Christ. After years of research, his conclusions amazed him. In his short but compelling book, The Case For Easter, he presents the evidences and allows the reader to reach his or her own verdict.
So, declaration or question the resurrection matters and that is what Easter is all about.