The British philosopher and outspoken atheist Cyril Joad once noted the following:
“The most important question in the world is did Christ rise from the dead? No question is more important, because if true, we dare not fail to acknowledge its implications. If it is not true, and Christ is still in his grave, then the last enemy, death, remains undefeated, the darkness of the tomb is all there is and Christ is proven a liar.”
What are the implications of the resurrection of Christ? What difference does it make? Do those peculiar historical events outside Jerusalem some 2,000 years ago have any relevance for our lives today or are they simply a fascinating part of antiquity? In my next few articles, I will address these questions.
Because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we can know without a doubt that there is life beyond the grave.
I love the story of the young minister who was asked to speak at a funeral. He had never spoken at a funeral before and was quite nervous about it. In his preparation, he found that he was having trouble choosing the right words to say. He wondered which Biblical verse would best convey the message of hope during this painful time. This was very much on his mind as he picked up his daughter from school.
When his little girl got into the car, she rolled down the window and a bee flew in. The little girl was terrified and began to scream. The bee eventually landed on the young minister’s arm and stung him, leaving the stinger in his arm. The bee, however, continued to swarm around the car and the little girl continued to scream. The father eventually calmed his daughter by showing her the stinger and saying, “Don’t be afraid. The bee can’t hurt you now! The bee’s power to bring you harm has been taken away.”
At that moment, it occurred to the young preacher what he would say at the funeral. The next day at the funeral, he told the story about the bee. He explained that because the bee stung him, it was powerless to hurt his child. Then, he turned to 1 Corinthians 15:55 and read, “Where, O death is your victory? Where, O death is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
He explained that death is the most powerful, terrifying and painful weapon the devil’s got. However, when Jesus was nailed to the cross, he took the stinger. He took the sting of death upon himself and, because of this, nothing can hurt his children now. Even though death is still an enemy, it is a defeated enemy. Because of the cross, the devil’s power to bring us harm has been ultimately taken away.
C.S. Lewis put it this way:
“Jesus is the first fruits, the pioneer of life. He has forced open a door that has been locked since the death of the first man. He has met, fought, and beaten the King of Death. Everything is different because he has done so. This is the beginning of the new creation and a new chapter in cosmic history has opened.”
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is not simply a matter of past history, it is also a matter of future hope. This verifiable historical event is God’s assurance that we can have forgiveness for the past, a new life in the present and hope for the future. It is testimony that we can go to heaven and that something better is available for us than this present messed up world. The apostle Peter put it this way, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Peter 1:3)
The good news and unique message of the Christian faith is that there is someone who has the last word over death. Death has been ultimately defeated by Jesus Christ! In John 11:25-26, Jesus made this astonishing declaration, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
This article is an excerpt from Russ Whitten’s new book, "Have You Ever Wondered?" available on www.amazon.com.
Russ Whitten now preaches every Sunday at the 9:30 a.m. Harbor Worship Service at Brotula’s Restaurant, 210 U.S. 98 in Destin, and then at the 11:30 a.m. service at The Downtown Church, meeting at Enlightened Studios, 144 Miracle Strip Parkway SE in Fort Walton Beach. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.