IF CHRIST BE NOT RISEN, THEN YOUR FAITH IS IN VAIN!
Those are the words of the Apostle Paul. What Paul was saying was that the truth of Christianity rested entirely on the fact that Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead. The resurrection was real, a fact. It happened; it was a historical event. The resurrection was completely and unequivocally verified, and therefore, for all of us Christians, our faith was real, our belief in Jesus Christ verifiable. OUR FAITH WAS NOT IN VAIN!
Who, in the history of humankind, knew better about the risen Christ than the apostle Paul. This pharisee, Christian hater, on the Damascus Road on the way to Syria to persecute and kill more Christians, was met face-to-face by the risen Christ, who confronted him in person and said words Paul would never forget:
SAUL, WHY DO YOU PERSECUTE ME?
Saul, later Paul, would never forget those words. How could he when they and the speaker, the resurrected Christ changed his life completely and Saul, later Paul, from that time forward, from that miraculous encounter-conversion set out to serve this risen Lord and present His gospel of truth to all mankind, to the whole world.
Saul, a Jew, a pharisee, let the world know that the gospel of Jesus Christ was delivered and meant for the Jew first, and then, secondarily, to the gentiles. How wonderful, how miraculous that we were included in the gospel of saving grace, the salvation experience offered by the risen Christ.
If Jesus of Nazareth was not risen, then at best he was one of the world’s prophets, a good one, a very good man. He was moral and taught morality. He was a teacher, a rabbi, respected by his peers, but by no means divine, nor the SON OF GOD he claimed to be. In fact, were he not risen, those words, that claim was nothing short of blasphemy. If Jesus of Nazareth were not risen, then he was a fraud, deluded, a
megalomaniac seeking power, fame and notoriety with one false claim after another. The Christianity of this Christ was also in vain, nothing more than a cult. Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ of Glory, was either the divine way of the God Jehovah Almighty, the Truth and the Life, or one of the greatest frauds of humankind.
But again, praise God, Jesus of Nazareth is Risen! He Lives, and he is in fact, the Way, the only Way, the only ultimate Truth, and the only giver of Life Eternal. Even as Christ was resurrected, so we who believe, with faith and love in this risen Christ, shall also be resurrected, risen from the dead as He was, and we shall spend eternity with Him.
1 The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the ultimate truth and life. It is exclusive, the only way, the only ultimate divine truth. There is absolutely no need for woke or progressive Christianity. The movement HE GETS US is dead wrong, for the resurrected Christ makes it clear that we need to GET HIM. There are no other ways, there are no other ways to God, to eternal life other than:
BY FAITH IN THE RESURRECTED CHRIST!
Now comes Easter when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Friday before, we identify with the brutal aspects of HIS crucifixion. From that time of agony, frustration, and pain, we move to the celebration of his resurrection on that blessed third day and we thank God Almighty for his UNSPEAKABLE GIFT. I pray you never let Easter eggs compete with Easter resurrection, that you never let Easter bunnies take the place of or compete with our beloved risen Lord. That is Easter! Celebrate that. Blessed are we, twenty-first century Christians, who have never seen or known him in the flesh but yet believe. BLESSED ARE WE! We never had the privilege, the spiritual thrill of touching the nail prints in His side. We never heard him speak after he rose from the grave. We did not bear witness to his testimony, his reality. We never had the opportunity to share a fish or a loaf of bread with him. We never witnessed the transfiguration, nor his commission to his disciples. But yet, we know, we believe, for his spirit, THE HOLY SPIRIT bears witness to the truth of Jesus Christ and:
THE EASTER RESURRECTION.
What a thrill it is to be a Christian. And so we say on Easter Sunday, and I do hope and pray we say these very words all year long and every day:
PRAISE BE TO GOD FOR HIS UNSPEAKABLE GIFT!