He was handed over to death because of our trespasses and was raised to life because of our justification.
One time, around Easter, a pastor and his scientist friend were discussing the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. During the course of the conversation, the scientist made it clear that he was not interested in the resurrection or religion in general. “It’s nothing but opinion,” he said. “Everybody’s got his point of view, and nobody can ever agree. That’s why I like science. Nothing but cold, hard facts. There’s a lot less to argue about.
We hear that a lot these days, don’t we? The idea that science deals with facts and religion is a matter of opinion. In fact, most people in our society would probably say that religion is more like picking a good movie than it is like studying Biology. In other words, it’s a subjective thing. You simply find what works for you and you stick with it. Most would say that words like “true” or “false” really don’t apply.
But, is that really true? Is Christianity really just one of many different ways to view spiritual things? When we say, “Christianity is true and people who reject it are wrong” – is that really no different from saying, “My kids are better-looking than your kids?” Is it all just a matter of personal preference and taste?
Actually, God himself permanently removed it from this category almost 2,000 years ago. He did that by raising Jesus Christ from the dead. When it comes to the resurrection, there’s no “In my opinion…” or “It seems to me…” or “I would prefer to think..” about it. It’s a simple question of fact, a matter of truth or falsehood.
Either Jesus returned to life three days after undergoing death by crucifixion, or he did not. If he did not, then no matter how appealing I find Jesus and his teachings, I have to face the fact that he told people an awful lot of things that weren’t true – for instance, that he was going to die and rise again, or that he was the Son of God. If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, then Christianity might be a somewhat interesting topic in my Social Studies class, but certainly not enough to get me out of a warm bed on Sunday morning.
If Jesus did rise from the dead (and there’s more than enough evidence to show that he did), then that changes everything. In this case, Jesus claims are true. He really is the Son of God and Savior of the world. He really does deserve our loyalty, trust and worship. But, best of all, Jesus’ resurrection means that the debt of our sin really was paid. God really did accept Jesus’ payment for those sins and now we’re free from the guilt of sin and the sting of death forever.
Jesus is risen! You can dispute the fact – many do – but it is emphatically not “just my opinion.” And personal taste – ‘whatever works for you” – has absolutely nothing to do with it. God did not “sort of” raise Jesus from the dead. Jesus did not “kind of” leave his tomb and appear in glory to over 500 people who saw him alive. And Jesus is not alive today only “if you choose to believe it,’ or “if you make your decision for Christ.” There’s nothing partial or conditional about Jesus’ resurrection.
There’s nothing partial or conditional about your forgiveness, either. There’s nothing you have to do to finish it or earn it or deserve it. Jesus’ resurrection has proclaimed the verdict loud and clear: “We’re not guilty! We’re free!”
And that’s a fact.
Have a blessed Easter!
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