Easter Sunday 2016
Jesus – “I am the Resurrection and the Life”
Most of the time, I love to look for the little details. The accounts of Jesus death and resurrection are full of them – the way that it is the women who are the witnesses; Jewish law didn’t allow for that, and if the disciples were making up the accounts of the resurrection, they would have arranged for some men to be witnesses! The little detail of the cloth for the head and the cloths for the body: as if Jesus had ‘passed through’ the bulk of the wrappings, but had then taken off the cloths from his head, and put them down tidily!
But concentrating on the details would be missing this: Jesus of Nazareth was dead and now is alive, and this changes everything.
Frank Morrison’s great book, ‘Who moved the stone’ is just as compelling today as it was when he wrote it. The resurrection of Jesus is better attested than almost any other event in history. It has been challenged by generation after generation, but not once has it ever been demonstrated to be false. Simply – if Jesus did not die, but merely collapsed, then how did he get out of the tomb? If the Romans or the Jewish leaders took the body away, or knew where it was, why didn’t they produce it? If it was the believers who took the body, or rescued the swooned Jesus, or made up the story, then would they willingly die for such a lie? If his resurrection was never more than a heartening story they told each other, never meant to be taken as fact, then would they die for that? How did they manage to make up and share such a story so quickly – Paul writes Corinthians within a few years of Jesus death, and clearly believes in the historicity of the resurrection. The truth is, people reject the resurrection because they have already decided they don’t believe in it. But if this is true, then what?
If Jesus who was dead is now alive, then at a stroke his life and teaching becomes irresistible. The resurrection validates Jesus life and work – I can believe in his miracles, in his promises, and in his explanations. Because he is now not just a man; he is God made flesh. If He can do this, then there is nothing that is beyond Him.
If Jesus who was dead is now alive, then when he said: ‘whoever lives and believes in me will never die’, I know that he knows what he is talking about. He really is the resurrection and the life – he’s been there and done that. Anyone else, they say that and you laugh. But this guy: he has earned our attention. He has life stronger than death to offer.
If Jesus who was dead is now alive, then my sin has been dealt with. Sin is the death-bringer. It’s sin that corrupts, and destroys, and defiles. But Jesus – the one who defeated death – defeated sin too. Here’s what he said: Those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death to life.’
If Jesus who was dead is now alive, then I’ve got to tell people this. John, who wrote down the words we’ve heard, said ‘These things are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in Him you will have life!’