Easter: the most important day for Christians, more so than Christmas! I’ve heard it argued that Christmas is to Christianity what:
• Mawlid is to Islam (birthday of Muhammed)
• Janmashtami is to Hinduism (birthday of Krishna)
• Hanamatsuri is to Buddhism (birthday of Buddha)
• Teacher’s Day is to Confucianism (birthday of Confucius)
Accepting the idea of Christmas doesn’t make you a Christian. Most of the world believes that Jesus was born, as they will accept in the same breath Muhammed, Krishna, Buddha & Confucius. But Easter, that’s a different story!
Muhammed, Krishna, Buddha, Confucius – their religions tell us they died. The Bible tells us Jesus is Risen! But what DOES the empty tomb signify? What DOES it mean to celebrate Easter? If someone says they are a Christian then what does it really mean to be a follower of Christ?
Could Jesus actually be risen? Historical documents show that:
• There is no doubt that Jesus was born.
• There is no doubt that He lived and taught in Israel.
• There is no doubt that Jesus died.
• There is no doubt that Christianity exploded within a few weeks of this event, with Christians claiming that Jesus has risen from the dead.
Contemporary examples of personal discovery also provide evidence for Jesus' resurrection:
The Guinness book of records tells us that Sir Lionel Luckhoo was the world record holder for the best trial lawyer on the planet. He was an Indian lawyer who had 245 murder acquittals in a row. He was twice knighted by Queen Elizabeth. Imagine the razor-sharp intellect that could differentiate reasonable testimony from what was false. Luckhoo was a cynic and a sceptic of Christianity who was challenged to take his knowledge of legal evidence and apply it to the case for the resurrection of Jesus. After thoroughly researching it, here is what he concluded, "I say unequivocally the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ is so overwhelming, it compels acceptance by proof that leaves absolutely no room for doubt". And he became a believer. He wrote the book 'The Question Answered: Did Jesus rise from the dead?'
Mortimer Adler, an agnostic philosopher and the editor of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, author of about 50 books, later in his life wrote a book called 'Truth in religion' where he sought to understand ‘is there truth here in any of the world's religions' and at age 91 he decided to get baptised for faith in Jesus! Why? What did he discover?
CS Lewis, atheist Professor of Literature at Oxford also discovered things that made him a believer, and wrote the book 'Mere Christianity' amongst many others.
In the sciences, the head of the human genome project Francis Collins writes in his book 'The language of God' how as an evolutionary biologist he found faith in Jesus whilst decoding the human genome. Similarly, Hugh Ross, the astrophysicist, also became convinced while looking at astrophysics and wrote a book called 'The fingerprint of God'.
When atheist investigative reporter and legal editor for the Chicago Tribune Newspaper Lee Strobel’s wife became a Christian he began to investigate the claims of Christianity. Through that journey he became a believer and he wrote a number of books as a result of his investigation. In his book 'The Case for Easter' Lee wrote, “The starting point seemed obvious to me: the resurrection was the centre of the Christian faith. After all, anyone can claim to be the Son of God. But if someone could prove that by returning to life after being dead and buried – well, that would be a compelling confirmation that He was telling the truth. Even for a sceptic like me".
The first thing that Lee wanted to confirm was that Jesus actually died on the cross. There have been those who have maintained that Jesus only passed out on the cross and woke up in the cool air of the tomb. What Lee discovered was that modern doctors felt that there was little chance that Christ could have survived the torture described in the Bible. Once Lee was satisfied that Jesus was really dead when He was placed in the tomb he needed to prove that one of the apostles hadn’t stolen the body. The strongest argument for that is that every one of the apostles was tortured for their faith and for their belief that Jesus rose from the dead. And while there are all kinds of people who will lie there are very few who will maintain that lie in the face of torture and death. The same apostles who hid while Jesus was being tortured encountered something or someone that gave them unprecedented power, and according to the scriptures, that something or someone was the risen Christ.
Strobel also wrote, “The disciples didn’t merely believe in the resurrection: they knew it was fact not fiction. Had they known it was a lie, they would never have been willing to sacrifice their lives for it. Nobody willingly dies for something that they know is false. They proclaimed the resurrection to their deaths for one reason alone: they knew it was the truth”.
If all of the people Jesus appeared to after His resurrection were here today and we asked each of them to speak for just 15 minutes on what they saw, it would take 129 hours! In other words it would take from breakfast on Monday until Friday at dinner time listening around the clock to hear the testimony of those witnesses.
I could go on and on, the deal is these are smart people, maybe even smarter than you and I (maybe!), yet even being sceptics and atheists they discovered something.
How do you respond?
What are your thoughts about Jesus, His birth, His life, His death and His resurrection?
CS Lewis said “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important".
Would this Easter be a good time to, at the very least, look at some of the facts around this same Jesus who, 2000 years after His birth, over 2 billion people around the world claim that He is of infinite importance in their daily life?
Our church Easter programme is listed in this magazine. We would love for you to attend one of our Easter services so we can answer any questions you may have.