Over 2,000 years ago, Jesus of Nazareth died on a Roman cross outside Jerusalem and was placed in an empty tomb nearby. Three days later, some women came to dress the body and found the tomb empty. They heard from angels that Jesus had risen from the dead, and shortly after encountered Jesus Himself. This Jesus also appeared to His disciples and to many others including to 500 people at the same time. It really happened.
Of course, there have been various alternative explanations since that momentous day when the women discovered the empty tomb. But none of the alternative explanations makes sense. In recent times, ‘experts’ have claimed that the disciples saw visions of Jesus and interpreted them as bodily appearances. They were so hopeful that Jesus would rise from the dead that they projected their hopes onto the world. Visions and dreams of the dead were known in the ancient world, and still occur today. But dreams and visions such as this do not give rise to the belief that the person is risen from the dead. Quite the contrary: if we have a vision or dream of a loved one who has died, the vision or dream is confirmation that they are still dead. And in any case, the disciples were as surprised as anyone at the news of Jesus’ resurrection (just read the Gospels!) More to the point, Jesus repeatedly appeared to the disciples, was touched by them, and even ate some grilled fish after His resurrection. No apparition would happily indulge in a breakfast barbecue (see John 21). Jesus’ resurrection really happened.
And if it really happened, since it really happened, then the world is a very different place than we might have thought. If Jesus rose from the grave, since He rose from the dead, then Jesus is who He always said He was, the Son of God, the King of Kings, the One who is in heaven now, sat by the Father, ruling over every corner of this globe.
Since the resurrection really happened, no situation and no person are hopeless. No marriage is beyond repair, no child beyond recovery, no pagan beyond the reach of the gospel, no sin beyond forgiveness. In Christ, no one and nothing are beyond restoration because, if bodily death is reversible, so are all the other ‘deaths’ that we suffer in life. For the Christian believer, future hope and the certainty of eternal life are not a delusion. As the Apostle Paul puts it “if only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.” But, continues Paul, “Christ has indeed been raised from the dead”. Amen and Alleluia!
Parish article for the week beginning 16th April - Easter Day 2017 AD (with thanks to PL)