Jesus Alive?

Wolfhart Pannenberg, a 20th Century German theologian said this: “The evidence for Jesus’ resurrection is so strong that nobody would question it except for two things: First, it is a very unusual event. And second, if you believe it happened, you have to change the way you live.”

As Pannenberg said, the resurrection was certainly an unusual event, right? Our view of such things is the same today as it was then. We don’t see dead people walking around (no apologies to Zombie aficionados).

Then we hear the proclamation – He is Risen!

Jesus alive? But he was dead! He had been tortured. He had been crucified, struck with a spear, and sealed in a tomb. He couldn’t be alive again.

That was the initial response of the women and the disciples to the resurrected Jesus. The whole thing seemed inconceivable to them.

Their entire lives had been witness to a certain order. We are born. We die. And we stay dead.

But Jesus did not stay dead. He was alive! If the women at the tomb had texted the event they might have used – OMG, OMG, OMG!

Their world had just exploded.

Jesus had the power to deliver himself from death. Jesus has the power over life and death.

But it only means something if we believe it really happened.

This is the 21st Century. This event happened over 2000 years ago. What evidence do we have?
The first accounts of the resurrection are in the letters of Paul. His discussion of the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15, was written two decades

before the earliest Gospel!

And what does Paul say?

For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 4and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters* at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died.* 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8Last of all, as to someone untimely born, he appeared also to me.

The post resurrection appearances were recent historical fact! But there is more.

This event started the greatest spiritual movement the world has ever known. Other than a resurrected Jesus, there is nothing else that can account for that.

Listen to these words:

“I accept the resurrection of Easter Sunday not as an invention of the community of disciples, but as a historical event….” They come from Pinchas Lapide, who is a Jewish scholar of the New Testament. In his book The Resurrection of Jesus he says these startling words: “…as a faithful Jew, I cannot explain a historical development which … has carried the central message of Israel from Jerusalem into the world of the nations, as the result of blind happenstance, or human error, or a materialistic determinism….. The experience of the resurrection as the foundation act of the church which has carried the whole Western world must belong to God’s plan of salvation.”

Lapide says that we have no other way to “explain the fact that the hillbillies from Galilee who, for the very real reason of the crucifixion of their master, were saddened to death, were changed within a short period of time into a jubilant community of believers.”
Those people also knew something. They could not go back. They had to remain in this new reality of a resurrected Jesus.
As posted on John McMillan Presbyterian Church.


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