Ramifications of the Resurrection, Pt 2: Crisis

The other day, I was thinking about some of the ramifications of the resurrection, and I decided to jot some quick thoughts down. The first one which came to my mind was that believers should be optimistic. But to be honest, there is one ramification which must precede that optimism.

Most people recognize a crisis as a bad thing, but the word itself is actually defined by Google to mean “a time when a difficult or important decision must be made.” And indeed, the resurrection is one such time when a decision must be made. Let me explain.

In the gospels, we are presented with the notion that Jesus was hung on a cross until He was dead on Friday, but then on Sunday, when the women went to prepare the body, the tomb was empty. And over the course of the next six weeks, Jesus appeared, alive, on numerous occasions.

If I were to replace the name Jesus with any other name, we would all think it a ludicrous proposition. People don’t come back from the dead. Not after two days. But Jesus supposedly did.

History tells us that the disciples were radically changed after the alleged resurrection. Seven weeks later, they rushed out into the streets of Jerusalem, and their little sect exploded from 120 to over 3,000 followers in one day. From that moment, their lifestyles were radically changed. And from that place, this ragtag band of once fishermen, tax collectors, and political activists fanned out across the known world, telling everyone they met the otherwise ludicrous notion that Jesus was again alive. And for some reason, others believed them and actually started doing the same kinds of things!

That is certainly not to say that everyone believed. Indeed, there has been skepticism about the resurrection of Jesus since the very beginning. For example, some have held that Jesus either didn’t really die on the cross at all and was then somehow smuggled alive out of Palestine afterward, or that his body was merely possessed by the Holy Spirit which left him in the moments just prior to death and appeared later to the disciples as some sort of phantom.

But the gospel writers deliberately went to great lengths to disprove these theories. They record how the Romans were surprised that Jesus would be dead already, and so one of the guards impaled his body with a spear, piercing his side at an upward angle until it reached the heart and drew a mixture of blood and what they thought looked like water, which spilled out on the ground. People who aren’t dead don’t like to be impaled by spears. And in the accounts of the post-resurrection appearances, they also make a point of mentioning that Mary touched the risen Jesus; Jesus invited Thomas to touch his hands and feet and even place his hand in His side; and then He made for the disciples a fish breakfast and ate some of it Himself. Phantoms can’t be touched, and they certainly don’t eat.

So as ludicrous as it seems, we are left, ultimately, with the unmitigated assertion that Jesus was dead, but then He came back to life. That is the reality of the resurrection. And it is that reality which compels us to a crisis point: we must make a decision.

Is it true? Did Jesus really come back from the dead?

And that is the crisis: we must decide whether the resurrection is true or not. But that decision cannot be merely cognitive or theoretical. Because, if He did come back from the dead, then it would be both unprecedented and unmatched in all of history. (Yes, I know there are other cultures and religions that speak of people being resurrected, but none of those have anything even remotely close to the historical or circumstantial support of the New Testament claims.) And if it it’s true, does that not verify all the other claims Jesus made (e.g., being the exclusive route to salvation, eternal life, and heaven)? And if all the other claims are verified in the resurrection, then does He not have the authority to issue to us commands? And if He has the authority to issue to us commands, do we not have the obligation to obey? And if we have the obligation to obey, then how can our actions not be directly affected by the reality of the resurrection?

You see, crises are, in fact, decisions which inherently affect everything else. From the moment the decision is made, everything is changed. Nothing can ever be the same again.

And that’s exactly how it is with the resurrection.

If we discount the resurrection as a mere fantasy or fairy tale, then we may go on with life as usual. But if we choose to believe that Jesus really did come back to life, then every aspect of our lives must be impacted: everything we think, say, feel, and do must be brought into conformity with the character and command of Jesus Christ, the resurrected Son of God.

But make no mistake. We must decide. Because even if we say we don’t know, our actions betray our actual decision.

So, what will you decide about the resurrection today?

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