Today, many in the world, religious or not, are celebrating the holiday called Easter which is also called Pascha. The focus of this festivity centers on the resurrection of Christ, our Lord and Savior. In 2017 a survey was conducted in Great Britain concerning the story of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Of those calling themselves Christians, a staggering 25% did not believe in Christ’s resurrection. In the United States, in a 2015 poll, some 75% said they were Christians, while another poll reveals that only 64% believe in the resurrection. These numbers are sobering, but not surprising at all as our culture becomes more and more secular.
The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders
and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.
You may remember in last week’s lesson I mentioned again this idea of our need to “deny” self and “take up our [his] cross daily” (Luke 9:23). This spiritual exhortation was on the heels of Jesus mentioning His own physical death on a cross and subsequent resurrection as noted in the verse above. The fact of the matter is simple, there is no hope in Christianity outside of the resurrection of Christ…none! Paul, as he sought to encourage the church in Corinth, said, “And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!” going on to say, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable” (1st Corinthians 15:17, 19). The resurrection is at the core of our hope!
I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me,
though he may die, he shall live.
Okay, it is time to be honest about something. As time passes, and life happens, the story of the resurrection can at times seem…difficult to grasp. Our world has for years gone through the cycle of life and death, but few had witnessed a resurrection. The bold statement of Jesus mentioned above is found in the story of Lazarus, something most are familiar with. Jesus comes on the scene after Lazarus has been in the tomb for four days (John 11:17). The mourning process was well on its way as people grieved together with Martha and Mary. Martha, hearing that Jesus was on His way, went out to meet Him, expressing her wish that He had come sooner so that her brother would not have died. But listen to what she says next, “But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You” (John 11:22). Faith…right? Well, as the story goes further, we find Jesus, along with Martha and Mary and those grieving with them at the tomb of Lazarus. Jesus said, “Take away the stone” (John 11:39). Martha’s response is understandable but appears to lack the faith of just moments ago, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days” (John 11:39). Sometimes circumstances cause us to question what we believe. Well, you know how the story ends, Lazarus is resurrected.
Fast forward to the events of the cross and the resurrection of Christ. Even after being told of the empty tomb, some disciples thought it was “like idle tales” (Luke 24:11). After showing Himself to His disciples, they shared it with Thomas who spoke these words, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe” (John 20:25). Believing in the resurrection of Christ took faith then, as well as now. Believing He can and will resurrect us as well, also takes faith. It is in the reality of His resurrection that we have hope of our own resurrection. He truly is the resurrection and the life, because He is RISEN! Do you believe?