A Christian School teacher asked her class the week before Easter if they knew what happened on Easter and why it was so important. One little girl spoke up saying:
"Easter is when the whole family gets together, and you eat turkey and sing about the pilgrims and all that."
"No, that's not it," said the teacher. "I know what Easter is," a second student responded. "Easter is when you get a tree and decorate it and give gifts to everybody and sing lots of songs." "Nope, that's not it either," replied the teacher. Finally a third student spoke up, "Easter is when Jesus was killed, and put in a tomb and left for three days." "Ah, thank goodness somebody knows" the teacher thought to herself. But then the student went on: "Then everybody gathers at the tomb and waits to see if Jesus comes out, and if he sees his shadow he has to go back inside and we have six more weeks of winter."
Of course there are even stranger ideas about Easter, like the one I picked up from a few blogs: "Easter is the day Christians celebrate the idea that a dead Jewish preacher came back as a zombie..."
So what is Easter to you? What really happened? Is it ridiculous to think that there was an actual event that occurred on a Sunday morning 2000 years ago that changed the course of history?
Or maybe we should be *smarter* and go with the conspiracy theories that Jesus was a great guy and all...but when you are dead, you're, well, dead. So all this resurrection talk should be filed away with belief in the Tooth Fairy (sorry if you were still counting on that one), Santa Clause, and (of course) the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
I'll admit that from a logical and scientific angle it seems impossible for someone to come back from the grave...but there is one more perspective I'd like you to consider, and that is a historical one.
As in, if there is overwhelming historical evidence that Jesus came back from the dead, then there must be a logical and scientific explanation as well. And most importantly, if He claimed to be the only way to heaven, then what you decide about Jesus' existence really needs to move to the front of the line in terms of your worldview.
So let's put the resurrection of Jesus on trial, then you decide what most likely happened on that bright and brilliant morning at the gravesite of Jesus Christ.
Let's first hear opening remarks from best-selling author Lee Strobel:
If we were to call to the witness stand every witness who personally encountered the resurrected Jesus and we cross-examined them for only 15 minutes, and if we went around the clock without a break...we would be listening to first-hand testimony for more than 128 hours...that's over 5 days worth of testimony...who could possibly walk away unconvinced?"¹
Perhaps you are unconvinced? Let's bring out the exhibits.
Exhibit A: The broken Roman Seal. This meant an investigation, an apprehension and automatic death for whoever did it...so obviously the Roman soldiers didn't break it. The disciples? Well, they were in hiding, and I wouldn't put my money on that group being able to overpower a group of soldiers.
Exhibit B: There was a huge stone that was moved uphill. We're not talking about a small boulder here. This was a 3000-4000 pound massive hunk of mountain that was supposed to stay where they put it. It didn't.
Exhibit C: There was an empty tomb, and the disciples immediately proclaimed the resurrection right away IN Jerusalem where the resurrection happened! They would have been completely laughed out of town if the tomb wasn't empty.
Exhibit D: The absence of the Roman soldiers who were guarding the tomb. This was a death penalty offense that would get you burned alive. Why would they disappear from the scene if they could simply produce the body and get off the hook?
Exhibit E: The resurrected Jesus stayed in town for 40 days. He appeared to more than 500 people in all kinds of different places, times and circumstances.
Exhibit F: The word of the angel who was outside of the empty tomb. Here are his exact words:
He isn't here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying (Matthew 24:6).
That statement and corresponding evidence changed a frightened and hiding group of people into fearless witnesses who ended up dying for their belief in a risen Christ.
History shows it, billions believe it, and your life can be radically changed by it. So this Easter, get past the bunnies and chocolate and reflect on the most amazing day in all of history. Jesus Christ is alive, and you can have a relationship with Him starting today! That's why the Bible lays it out in no uncertain terms:
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9).
Flashpoint: Ignite Into Action
If there is ever a great time to share your faith, it is definitely this week. Simply ask your friends what they think Easter is about, then transition into a discussion about Jesus coming back from the dead to prove that He is God and the Savior of the world. If the discussion about the Resurrection gets deeper than what we mentioned in this Soul Fuel, here are some web sites to help you:
Hoax, Myth or Reality?
Accelerant: Feed the Fire
They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, "It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon." Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread (Luke 24:33-35).
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus' body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, "Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?"
But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
"Don't be alarmed," he said. "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.' "
Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid (Mark 16:1-8).
That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9).
¹Source: J.I. Packer quoted in God's Outrageous Claims by Lee Strobel, pp. 170-171.