By: Rev Ed Schneider
During the time surrounding the Christian Church’s annual celebration of Easter each faithful and enthusiastic Christian soul is overjoyed by the privilege of observing the memory of what believers proclaim as a historical event; the resurrection of Jesus.
Believers find themselves both severely challenged before an unbelieving world and as well as having the opportunity to express their personal commitment to proclaim what would appear to be a nonsensical mythology; Jesus being brought back to life by a miraculous intervention of what we have come to call, “God.”
For more than 2,000 years CHRISTIAN believers have authored volumes of both scholarly and anecdotal writings on the subject of “the resurrection.” Like all issues of faith, there are those who disagree or try to debunk those beliefs. In that regard, quite literally there have been millions of words written against the Christian claim of Jesus’ resurrection as well as the bold proclamation why it is not only possible, but reasonable to believe, a person back to life after the world has pronounced them dead.
Even though there are individuals who vehemently claim what we believe is either foolishness or fake, true believers of the risen savior, Jesus, come from all across the world to gather in memory of the most significant and certainly the most debated event in human history every year….in spite of much of the unbelieving world scoffing at them.
THE TRUTH IS…..there will be plenty of people who will NOT believe regardless of the overwhelming evidence that the resurrection actually happened. REMEMBER….the bible tells us that ONLY GOD calls believers into the DIVINE UNDERSTANDING of Christ risen reality. By themselves humanity is unable to believe WITHOUT GOD’s INTERVENTION.
Within the biblical stories of Christ’s death and resurrection believers are called to dive headlong into waters-of-faith. I think it is important to note that by using the word, “Faith” Christian believers are not using the term to lead ignorant or daft people, as unblievers assume, down a path of intellectual misdirection. No! Faith, as the Bible describes it, and practically understood by profoundly transformed Christians, is when all rationale pursuits have honestly and intentionally taken place….FAITH in something you can’t see, somehow, someway still makes PERFECT sense.
During the Easter Season that is exactly where the Christian finds themselves within a world that is growing in their aggressive disbelief in what we believe and what we proclaim to be. Christians find the strength to adapt and overcome a doubtful segment of humanity through an “awakening” of sorts that allows the unbelievable to be plausibly likely. When the “plausible” is matched up with the rest of their life experiences that have intersected with “God,” then all that is meant concerning the “resurrection moment” becomes, for the believer, perfectly reasonable to grasp and proclaim.
One of the truly marvelous observations concerning the annual Easter memorial services is that believers from every expression…every flavor….every personal preference of Christianity find themselves united in one particular belief; Jesus “resurrection moment” puts into context God’s willingness and the ability to take a “dead life” that has been deemed a failure and then, in direct opposition to that assessment, recover the life which was discarded as irrelevant and revitalize it, reanimate it, reinvent it, and yes, even resurrect that life into a new and abundant state of being.
Christians who have taken control of this understanding regarding a “resurrected life” have, just like Jesus, been forever changed in how they understand and experience life and death. That is what the resurrection moment does in the life of a believer. It transforms our particular understanding of who and what God is, as well as how and why Jesus is an essential element in that heightened sense.
Even though I and other preachers will share God’s word concerning the Easter moment on a fairly regular basis, the subject takes on a more important emphasis during the Easter morning celebrations. It is not an unusual thing for myself and others to lean on the New Testament gospels of Mark (16th chapter) or John (20th chapter) to support our sermons on this highly sacred time in the life of the church.
There are basically four common themes that are generally highlighted in some form:
1. The death of Jesus as a precursor to a divine victory,
2. Calling the faithful to look inside the tomb to renew their hope in the promises of God,
3. Moving from fear to joy as the initial witnesses respond to their understanding of the events, or
4. The power of God’s Holy Spirit to empower a “dead life” back into a revived, reanimated and vibrant state of being.
Beloved, I want to point out a few important essential elements regarding sermon topics 2, 3 and 4, and how when they are put together, will easily provide primary evidence and practical reasoning why the resurrection moment is a secure and viable truth. As you move forward from this point, I want you to notice the absence of the standardized “have faith” argument to support the historical claim of the resurrection itself. The reason for this is simple.
Christians unfortunately abuse the “faith card” far too often when trying to provide others the understanding of why they believe and trust in the things of God.
I think we Christians do harm to our desire to share the power and the purpose of the resurrection moment when we just keep shouting “have faith” to an unbelieving world as though by proclaiming “have faith” louder or more frequently will somehow help the process at all. I know it seems odd, especially in context to how I started this offering at the beginning of this writing, but the inconvenient truth is that trying to explain or justify the resurrection moment strictly through means of faith is similar to the challenges of conveying what it is like to be pregnant to someone who never experienced it personally. You can talk about “the condition” with great passion and clarity for as long as you desire, however, if the person you are trying to convey “the condition” to hasn’t personally experienced “being pregnant” (or in our case, “being Christian”) then there is only a remote chance they will grasp the depth of what it actually means. The same can be said about a subject of religious or spiritual faith. The resurrection of Jesus, what it means and how it applies, should be able to stand on its own foundation of authenticity and validity so to allow a disbelieving world to better understand why this time of year is so vigorously celebrated by the Christian community.
Let me say this next part very clearly so there are no misunderstandings. I firmly believe with every part of my intellectual, emotional, physical and spiritual being that the resurrection moment of Jesus is an actual historical reality. This reality has provided a profound sense of awakening millions and millions of souls regarding:
• The truth of an existing and self-announcing God,
• What God calls us to understand about His foundational character, and
• Why the life, death and resurrected reality of Jesus is the essential element in connecting to the Creator of all that is known and unknown.
Now that I have set the table for us to eat, let’s move on to PART 2 where the actual eating of the proverbial meal happens. CLICK HERE to go to PART 2.