This is a copy of my article for the APRIL 2015 edition of the Billericay ‘Around Town Magazine’
The cross and the resurrection went together in the announcement of the good news about Jesus in the early church. So much of the teaching of the church fathers focuses on the resurrection as the proof that Jesus was the promised Messiah, that sin could be forgiven through him, and that he was the one appointed by God to be our Saviour. For without that first Easter Day, the cross is a defeat; there is no forgiveness, no salvation, no new life, no hope beyond death and Jesus’ mission was a failure – albeit a heroic one. In short, without the resurrection, the Christian has nothing on which to build their faith.
Many people look upon Jesus’ resurrection as a myth, yet there is a huge amount of credible historical evidence (from Roman and Jewish historians) to support the fact that Jesus lived, was crucified and rose from the dead. But that should come as no surprise because the Christian God is a supernatural God. We believe that He created the world in a supernatural way; that Jesus was born by supernatural means, to live a supernatural life and to be a supernatural Saviour; a God whose supernatural nature is grace and peace. The writer John Stott makes the point: “Authentic Christianity is supernatural Christianity. It is not a tame and harmless ethic, consisting of a few moral platitudes, spiced with a dash of religion. It is rather resurrection religion, a life lived by the power of God.”
You may be a bit sceptical about Jesus’ resurrection, but one thing we can’t deny is the experience of the many Christians down the centuries, and around one billion people in the world today, who celebrate Jesus’ rising from the dead and who would testify to the fact that a risen Jesus has changed their lives.
But some people don’t want to believe because Jesus’ rising from the dead means that He is who He says He was and that’s (almost) frightening isn’t it? Philip Yancey echoed this sentiment when he wrote: “In many respects I find an un-resurrected Jesus easier to accept. Easter makes him dangerous. Because of Easter, I have to listen to his extravagant claims and can no longer pick and choose from his sayings. Moreover, Easter means he must be loose out there somewhere.” And if Jesus is ‘loose out there somewhere’ then we have a responsibility to look for him, don’t you think?
The resurrection is far more than a passport to eternal life. It is the key to everyday life, to new life, to abundant life. The impossible becomes possible. It is possible for us to have confidence about the future, to love our neighbours, to forgive our enemies, to resist temptation, to be content with what we have. As those who seek to know the power of His resurrection, we can do all things through the one who gives us strength.
Might I encourage you to do all you can to look for Jesus this Easter? You can ‘find’ him in the: Praise of Palm Sunday; Poignancy of Maundy Thursday; Sorrow of Good Friday and the Joy of Celebration on Easter Day. May I extend an invitation to join with us here at Emmanuel or another of the many great churches in Billericay?
May God’s richest blessing be upon you as you prepare to celebrate all that Easter brings.