In the life of the church the week leading up to Easter is called ‘Holy Week’. It is the final week of Lent and we begin to reflect on the most intense ‘Fearless Question’ ever asked: Is Jesus Really Alive?
Let’s Start with the Resurrection Story in Matthew’s Gospel: Matthew 27:11-28:10
For centuries people have debated whether Jesus REALLY rose from the dead. Of course they did (and do)! It is truly a remarkable thing to believe in. I mean, no one else has EVER been resurrected (before Jesus or since). What can we make of it? In our reflection today I can only hint at some of the important arguments for and against believing… but what I hope to do is inspire each of us to continue to seek and search our hearts and faith as well as the evidence.
If this question is something that really interests you, I would suggest clicking on the work of Lee Stroebel as a good place to start.
So, here are some points to consider as we answer the Fearless Question of the week: Is Jesus Really Alive?
- We read about the ’empty tomb’ (Matthew 28:6). Nay-sayers will point out that it is most likely someone stole Jesus body. But, who would do that? We read in Matthews Gospel that The Jews asked the Romans to post a group of guards at the tomb to dissuade such a crime (Matthew 27:62-65). Further, who the heck would want to steal the body? The Jews? Certainly not. If Jesus’ dead body were there and the Jews stole it… THEY would be perpetuating the myth that the rose from the dead by removing the proof that he WAS dead and buried. The Romans? Certainly not. The Romans didn’t care one bit about the prophecies, faith, or religious customs of the Jewish faith, they would have had no reason to do so. The disciples? Maybe. Of all the ‘likely suspects’ they would have been the top of the list… but read the next bullet point below to see why it was not likely that they stole the body.
- The disciples themselves are a great counterexample to any doubt about the resurrection of Jesus. First of all, could they have stolen the body of Jesus from the tomb and then claimed he was resurrected? Sure! Would they have reason to do so? Sure! They would have done so to perpetuate the ‘myth’ that he was raised so that they could continue what Jesus started. Is this likely? Surely not! Why? First of all, we read from the Bible and historical faith literature that ALL of the disciples (except John) and MANY of the first followers were horribly tortured and killed for claiming ‘Jesus was raised’. Who dies a horrible death for a lie? Further, when we read all of the Gospel stories we find that the disciples are ‘running scared’ after Jesus is arrested and executed. They were demoralized and hiding in fear and kept from interacting with the society. Yet, after they witness Jesus alive… they go on to be champions of the faith and responsible for bringing this movement of a few people to hundreds, thousands, and tens of thousands in their own lifetime. Nothing short of a remarkable occurence could cause THAT kind of turnaround.
- Speaking of the disciples… we can’t forget that women played the primary role in announcing the resurrection. We may not think much of it these days, but women were seen to be as about as reliable and responsible as small children during Jesus’ day. Therefore, the fact that the miraculous message “Jesus was alive!” was first pronounced by women is utterly remarkable. The thinking of the day was, “of course women can’t be trusted” (like children telling fantasies can’t be trusted), yet THAT very thing is part of the official record. This, I think, firmly qualifies as one of those things’ you just can’t make up’.
Obviously, there are more arguments… but the point is that, upon close consideration, Jesus resurrection is very HARD to disbelieve.
Our goal this week (and on Easter Sunday) is to come to grips with the evidence… and move from the greatest ‘who done it’ ever told… to the greatest ‘God has done it’ ever told.