I believe in Jesus who on the third day rose again

A house was built in a forest clearing with six-foot concrete foundations. In time an oak sapling burst through the floor. Such is the natural power released in the coming to life of a tiny acorn.

As the little acorn crushed the concrete so the Son of God has "crushed death by his death" in the greatest of all imaginable revolutions.

The theologian Karl Rahner speaks of this revolution using the image of a volcano: Jesus' resurrection is like the first eruption of a volcano which shows that God's fire already burns in the innermost depths of the earth, and that everything shall be brought to a holy glow in his light. He rose to show that this has already begun. The new creation had already started…

As a volcanic eruption shows us fire at the heart of the earth the resurrection of Jesus reveals the glorious reality that is ours in God.

It is impossible to weigh up the historical figure of Jesus without evaluating the claim he rose from the dead that takes centre place in the Creed.

This Jesus God raised up, Peter says in Acts Chapter 2, God has made him … Lord, this Jesus whom you crucified.  

The experience of the living Christ is at the heart of the survival of Christianity over 2000 years.  Looking over history Chesterton wrote: every time Christianity has seemed to be going to the dogs the dog dies!                                      

How can we explain the unique and universal significance of Jesus as the One who rose from the dead?  The risen Christ appears like a rainbow in the midst of the storms of life, in the very midst of history, to open up for us the beauty and glory that lie ahead for believers.  

Recall the experience of being locked out of your house or your car or wherever and then at length a key arrives and you are in. Welcoming the truth of Easter is like that. It is knowing the truth that sets free as St. John puts it. Knowing there is nothing in all creation that can separate us from the love of God in the risen Christ as St. Paul puts it.

When I read Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code or Richard Dawkins The God Delusion I am struck by assaults upon Christianity that are so far from tackling the real issue of truth that’s at stake.

These are the questions: Are you and I destined for eternal splendour or not? Is the evidence for Christ’s resurrection trustworthy or is it not? Is Jesus the Son of God or is he not?

The debate about Christ’s divinity and about the reality of God needs to be moved down to earth and to an examination of the historical evidence for the resurrection.

Look at the evidence. Variations in the four New Testament accounts, such as the number and placing of angels, who was first at the scene and so on, far from undermining Christ’s resurrection are consistent with the recording of a stupendous event.  The accounts are also strangely matter of fact, even reserved.  The disciples fail again and again to recognise Jesus.  This failure would hardly have been relayed to us if, as some critics of Christianity make out, the disciples made up the stories.

Would the different geographical focuses – Matthew in Galilee, Luke in Jerusalem – have survived in a made up version? Would the role of women as witnesses, very controversial in those days, have been included in a constructed tale?

In Daniel Clark’s book Dead or Alive? Harvard Law Professor Simon Greenleaf has this to say about the varying testimonies to the resurrection of Jesus: There is enough of a discrepancy to show that there could have been no previous concert among them; and at the same time such substantial agreement as to show that they all were independent narrators of the same great transaction.

This transaction, as he calls it, is further evidenced in history by the Christian church changing its weekly holy day from the Jewish Sabbath to Sunday, that being the day of Christ’s rising.  What a change that would have been for pious Jews!

Think also of this. How could such a frightened bunch of men and women end up confronting the authorities so confidently with news that Jesus was and is alive?

Some of them became martyrs.  They even died for their belief that Jesus is Lord.  Today we see martyrs like the infamous suicide bombers who die for what they believe to be true.  Imagine dying for what you not only doubt to be true but know to be false?

Christianity is the only religion that refuses to talk of its Founder as a past figure.  Buddha and Mohammed have graves but Jesus – that is a different story!

As Christians we live with pain and sorrow and things that seem utterly brutal and uncontrollable but we live with a God who brought Jesus from death and all that is out of nothing.

The Lord is truly risen! Alleluia! What usually happens in death is not what always happens because the possibilities of God exceed our asking or imagining!

For a 2min audio clip summary of this article: https://soundcloud.com/john-twisleton/resurrection


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