Why do I believe in the resurrection?
I used to believe because of the historical veracity of the claim that Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead. The dates of the earliest manuscripts of the New Testament leave little room for myth to creep in. The transformed lives of the disciples – before the resurrection they denied him to avoid death, and now are willing to die for the resurrection – make it hard to doubt their belief in a literal resurrection. The extra-biblical and secular documents making note of the resurrection also make it hard to think it is just story.
And what about the 500 witnesses? 500 people witnessed and interacted with the resurrected Jesus. It would have been the easiest myth or lie for the Romans and Jewish leaders to untangle. Only 1 of the 500 would have had to break from the crowd and tell the truth to the ruling authorities. But even in the face of death, not one denied the reality of the resurrection.
This is impressive to say the least.
But this is not why I believe in the resurrection.
I believe in the resurrection because I have friends that have been set free from the destruction of crippling addictions.
I believe in it because my mom told me it was true and then she lived it. My dad told me it was true and then he lived it.
I believe in the resurrection because I have seen the hopeless find hope.
I believe in the resurrection because I have see the grip of poverty loosened through the generosity and empowerment of Jesus followers.
I believe because I have watched victims of abuse escape and find shelter in the arms of the church.
I believe because so many of my friends and family have been transformed by an encounter with Jesus.
I believe because I continually hear the story of sinners ransomed from the fall.
I believe because I am one of those sinners who was ransomed.
We are a resurrection people!
This means we live different. This means we offer life to those trapped in cycles of death. This means we knock down the gates of hell and rescue those under oppression of any kind (Matthew 16:18). This means we put away the desires of the sinful nature and live as light in a dark world. This means we no longer fear death but overcome it by the Holy Spirit who gives us a relentless hope that God is reconciling all things unto himself.
The good news is not that Jesus died. Thousands of Jews died under Roman rule.
The good news is that the crucified Jesus rose from the grave as Lord of heaven and earth! The good news is that the risen Lord invites us into this new life and this resurrected life joins Jesus as he makes all things new!
May we be a people of the resurrection! May our lives reflect the new reality that sin has lost its power and death has lost its sting. And may we, through the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, bring life and light to everyone we encounter.