“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.” 1 Corinthians 15:20
On Easter we celebrate Jesus coming back to life, after being brutally killed, 2,000 years ago. There are facts about the death of Jesus that both through Christian and non-Christian historical documents, we know to be true. There was a man named Jesus, from Nazareth, who was a real person. He lived, taught, was arrested and crucified, died, and was buried in a tomb. The Gospels, the historian Josephus, Pliny the Younger and the Jewish Talmud are among the texts that confirm these undisputed facts.
But did He rise from the dead? Some say He faked it. Doubtful, as Roman crucifixion was well-known and quite final in its result. A twin brother, perhaps? No, there is no historical evidence to support that myth. Was His body stolen? The tomb was under Roman guard. Or maybe the whole thing is just a legend? But there is the problem of many historical texts that give evidence not only of Jesus historically, but of His followers and the resurrection account, accurately and consistently recounted, within a few years of its occurrence.
No other religion makes such claims about God—that He became a man, lived a perfect life, died for the sins of all, and was raised from the dead. It is the central truth of all of Scripture, the central belief of Christianity, the one event in all of history that makes all the difference. The Apostle Paul, who was early Christianity’s archenemy until he was radically saved by Jesus, wholeheartedly believed, “in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:20).
Now, thousands of years after the fact, our hope is built on the belief that Jesus rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, lives in our hearts even now, and has prepared a place for us after this life is over. There are facts that support this belief, but we can’t see for ourselves the events of the crucifixion and resurrection. The Christian Faith is built on believing Jesus was and is Who He says He is, and that He did what He said He did. Easter is a celebration of an impossible victory that produced a hope for eternity for all mankind. But Easter is also a choice. To experience the real, living, Jesus, you must choose to believe.
God, thank You for the incredible gift of Easter, a reminder that Jesus rose from the dead, and offers eternal life in heaven for all who choose to believe. I pray for my friends, family and neighbors who do not know Jesus… that they would believe in Him, repent of their sins, and receive eternal life. I pray I can have a role in leading them toward Jesus. I pray you will give them the faith to believe. In Jesus name, amen.