“If Christ is risen – then nothing else matters. And if Christ is not risen – then nothing else matters.”
On this Easter Sunday, we celebrate the most important event in human history. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead. I’m struck by the profundity of Pelikan’s quote. Because the resurrection of Jesus from the dead is either the most important event in human history or it is utterly meaningless. There is no middle ground, no gray area with the resurrection. It happened. Or it didn’t. Jesus died and rose, or he didn’t.
What’s it to you?
Did it happen? If you believe that it did, is it changing your life?
If it happened, there are implications. It proves God exists and that there is life after death. It shows that Christianity is true. It shows that Jesus is the promised Messiah of the Old Testament. He wasn’t just some guy who appeared on the scene: Jesus was the culmination of hundreds of years, of dozens of generations of Israelites who pointed to the Lord’s coming into our world. It affirms the truth in his message.
Jesus said that he was the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). He told us to take up our cross and follow him (Matthew 10:38); to make disciples of the nations (Matthew 28:16-20). He told us that we are to love one another (John 13:34). He told us that God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).
If Jesus died and rose, all of these teachings matter. They have authority. They are the words of God to humanity. They’re not up for debate, they’re not something where we “agree to disagree.”
Do we look at the story, and think “that’s nice,” and then go back to our daily lives? That misses the point.
The death and resurrection of Jesus. What’s it to you?
Jesus came to redeem a sinful humanity. The world is imperfect, and we all know it. The Bible says “No one is righteous” (Romans 3:23). In his justice, God couldn’t simply write off sin, as if it didn’t matter. Forgiveness costs something. It cost Jesus his life. And there was no other way. There was no way for people to make themselves righteous and holy, because of sin. Yet Jesus came and lived without sin. He lived the life we could not live and died the death we should have died. Instead of us paying the penalty for our sin, Jesus paid it for us: God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8).
But we have to believe. We have to have faith in what he has done. And the more we understand our imperfection, the more we appreciate grace.
As the Apostle Paul said almost two thousand years ago:
Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
Photo credit: http://www.evernote.com/shard/s77/sh/bdb1fe2e-53d0-4fc7-92de-3aa264e08a3e/73f281a471ef84aee3aa5d93be5c44cd