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Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Resurrection of Jesus

The meaning of the resurrection
There's a uniqueness in the message of Jesus. It is vastly, radically different from all messages delivered by leaders and accepted by men and women throughout the world. It is the resurrection. Some may argue over his claims of deity, but the point of the resurrection puts all other matters in perspective. How?

Recent online discussions with some who reject or diminish the resurrection of Jesus reveal a distorted perspective. Others, they state for example, Osirus, were resurrected long before Jesus, hence Jesus was not the first to be raised up from the dead. Lets look at two of these cyber discussion claims, briefly.

First, Lazarus could well be added to the list of individuals resurrected before Jesus, but the point of these individual resurrections (I will not speak of Osirus) is that those individuals never made claims of their own resurrection as did Jesus. Furthermore, the resurrection of Lazarus was not to show Lazarus was immune from death but to demonstrate Jesus' claim, I am the resurrection and the life (see, John 11). The reason some offer as their unbelief of the resurrection is that they were not there to see it. However, there were some present at the resurrection of Lazarus, who saw, did not dispute it, but refused to accept it so as to declare themselves disciples of Jesus. They hurriedly went and reported to the authorities what they had just witnessed.

Second, I marvel at the readiness with which resurrection claims of the likes of Osirus are accepted, _ on the basis of what evidence? Jesus made his claims to his own resurrection openly and publicly. His claims were not an inner secret known to his disciples only. His enemies, the Jewish and Roman authorities, were quite familiar with these resurrection claims (see, Matthew 27:62-66). These authorities even agreed to post a guard at the tomb precisely to prevent the disciples from stealing the body of Jesus and declaring he had risen from the dead. The meaning of what Jesus claimed and accomplished with his resurrection is captured in his words:

For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it up again.

No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father. (John 10:17,18)

The significance of the resurrection
The significance of the resurrection is that it speaks to two things common to all mankind: birth and death. We know of our birth because we are alive. Parents, siblings, family, friends tell us and documents reassure us of our birthdate and birthplace. Death needs no such reassurance. It is ever before us. All faith and piety, religious leaders, their deeds and teachings are nothing if all they can offer mankind is claims about God and how to please him. Similarly, chants, platitudes, noble and even the most bizarre of deeds as one's way of pleasing God or leading men to God are nothing if these fail to address the spectacle of death which haunts mankind. Euphemisms or the prolongation of life do not prevent death.

The best source for the study and understanding of the resurrection is the New Testament scriptures. Yet, as intriguing and perhaps fascinating as these points might seem it is when the individual considers the significance of the resurrection event for himself or herself.

The value of the resurrection
As with the value of all Jesus said and did it was not lost in the first century as some claim. Neither the claims nor event of the resurrection have ever been mere religious ideas for discussion. The value of the resurrection was evident from the beginning in the first century when lives were impacted and transformed radically as people understood the meaning and significance of just who is this Jesus raised from the dead. This transformation of lives was/is in keeping with this words of Jesus:

The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly.

Those who believed the resurrection of Jesus as the Son of God were not left to wander in obscurity. They were among the first added to the number of the believers, the church. Their act of obedience of the gospel message of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus resulted in them being added to the church to become disciples, followers of Jesus, or Christians. (see, Acts 2:37-47) This same transformation of lives continues today.

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