Mar 31, 2013

HE IS NOT HERE!

“Sir, He is not here!  Could you please make your way out, sir!” requested the Catholic monk as I tried to linger on at the tomb inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in East Jerusalem, Israel.  That was in January of 2011 during a visit to the Holy Land. 

At the entrance of the tomb inside the Church of the
Holy Sepulcher, East Jerusalem, Israel.
Like many pilgrims, I was fascinated by the significance of what happened here two thousand years ago.  Corresponding to the early visitors on that Easter morning, I inadvertently drew the same reminder, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He is risen!  Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again” (Luke 24:5-7).
The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is indisputably the single most powerful event in all of human history with natural and supernatural implications.  As with the other signs enumerated in the gospels, it was the ultimate proof of His divinity. It confirmed the fact that Jesus Christ was indeed the Son of God.  Author and historian H.G. Wells said it well, “I am a historian.  I am not a believer but I must confess that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history.  He is easily the most dominant figure in all of history.”

The Empty Tomb
For a man who had many detractors, the falsification of His resurrection by his disciples would have been quickly and credibly countered by the production of His body.  Surely there was bound for technical errors to occur on the part of his rug tag band of followers in attempting such a monumental feat in a hostile environment from all sides and without state or institutional resources. 

Legal scholar John Montgomery put it succinctly well, “It passes the bounds of credibility that the early Christians could have manufactured such a tale and then preached it among those who might have easily refuted it simply by producing the body of Jesus.” As it were, no one could produce His body because He was risen.  As it would follow, all of Jesus disciple except one would later be slain as martyrs as they each confirmed their testimony as witnesses of the risen Christ.

The Garden of Gethsemane
Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15, hinges the credibility of the claims of the Christian faith and its’ followers upon the bodily resurrection of Jesus.  “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, your faith also is in vain,” he states in verse 14.  “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins,” he affirms again in verse 17. 

Here, Paul ties the authenticity of preaching to the declaration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  In other words, the ministry of preaching within the Christian faith is authentic only because it has and it assumes as its’ central theme the fact that Christ is risen from the dead.  It doesn’t qualify as preaching if all it does is to call people to be morally good, offers emotional excitability, presents a spiritual experience, or even presents a way for material prosperity.  Preaching is preaching because it assumes and declares unequivocally that Christ is risen from the dead. 

The Garden Tomb


Paul further ties the authenticity of the experience of Christian faith to the fact of the resurrection.  “If Christ has not been raised…your faith also is in vain…your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.”  Paul here affirms several things.  First is the fact that Christian faith is not about being morally good as it is about acceptance of Christ and the fact of His resurrection.  There is no escaping the fact that to be a Christian is to acknowledge that Christ is who He claimed to be: the Son of God. His resurrection confirms His Sonship.

Secondly Paul affirms that the resurrection places value to our faith.  Our faith is not anchored in non-reason.  It is anchored in a very reasonable and proven reality of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The resurrection wasn’t some imagined or spiritual experience.  It was a bodily experience with both bodily and spiritual implications for all humankind.  Our faith which is affective, only has value as it is anchored in the reasonable fact that Christ rose from the dead.

Inside the Garden Tomb
Thirdly Paul affirms that the resurrection confirms our forgiveness.  Indeed, how could Christ’s death have benefited humankind if it hadn’t been followed by His resurrection?  In His death He absorbed the venom of our human sin, taking upon Himself the judgment of God.  In His resurrection He triumphed over sin’s power and that of Satan and his demons.  Now, as many as believe in Him they do not perish but have everlasting life.

A few years ago while growing up in a small African village of Eluuya, Western Kenya, I came face to face with the power of the risen Christ.  I was eleven years old.  Together with a dozen other friends of similar age who believed in Christ we had come together for an afternoon of fellowship, bible study, and prayer.  As we were gathered, a respectable gentleman, much older than us, walked into our prayer meeting.  There was only one problem, he despised our Christian faith and disdained our belief.  But as it were, this afternoon he had walked into the meeting perhaps out of curiosity or for whatever reasons. 

Garden Tomb- Christ is Risen Indeed!


As we began to pray and to praise the name of Jesus Christ, this man was literally carried mid-air by an invisible power and thrown against the wall some ten feet away.  Unbeknown to us he was demon possessed.  He began forming at the mouth and mumbling some strange sounds.   Quickened by the Holy Spirit, we recognized that these were demons operating in the man.  In the presence of the risen Jesus, they were powerless.  We stepped forth and while loving on this man, we commanded the demons to leave.  He prayed with us to receive Jesus Christ as His Lord and Savior.  Within minutes he was absolutely normal and praising God with us. 
 
JESUS CHRIST IS RISEN INDEED! 

4 comments:

  1. Praise God! Jesus is a humble, powerful Messiah!
    Meredith N.

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  2. He is Indeed! Thanks Meredith!

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