The Resurrection

Rembrandt "The Resurrection"

“The Resurrection” Rembrandt

 This week, Christians are celebrating an event that fulfilled ancient prophecy, surprised early believers, and validated the claims of Jesus. His Resurrection is so central to the Christian faith, that skeptics know instinctively that if it is proved to be a hoax, then Christianity falls like a house of cards. In fact, Scripture offers that point almost like an invitation to investigate: “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain (1Cor15:14).” 

 As you might expect, it has been investigated. Christians have logical reasons to believe that Jesus came back to life after he died, even though believing the Bible is enough for most of us. 

 An early cover-up is recorded in Scripture. The people that won their capital punishment case against Jesus were so concerned about his claim to rise from the dead that they posted a guard to stop the theft of his body. These same guards later reported angels, earthquake, and an empty tomb, but received bribes to say Jesus’ body was taken. 

 His foes could have proved the Resurrection a hoax by simply producing Jesus’ body. They couldn’t, so they propagated their own deception to blame on his followers. At least we know that friend and foe knew that the body was gone. 

 But is the empty tomb enough to believe the resurrection account? Consider the behavior of the disciples. Immediately after Jesus’ death, they huddled behind locked doors fearful that they would meet his fate. Perhaps they just hoped to return to their former lives. What a defeated bunch! 

 Here is the illogic. Why would such a group concoct a cover-up and maintain it against the religious and political power-brokers that were determined to end Jesus and his following? Why not simply write down what he said as an inspiring teacher and avoid further controversy? Why declare in public venues and at their trials that Jesus was not just a good teacher, but arose from the dead and is the expected Messiah, the living God? They looked their accusers in the eye and said they would obey God rather than men. Would the eye-witness followers of Jesus have suffered and died for what they knew to be a lie? 

 Is the Resurrection just a metaphor, and did his followers invent the Christ of faith from the historical Jesus? It is far more logical that Jesus’ followers were emboldened by something shocking, terrifying, and exciting. Only a bodily Resurrection after a gruesome crucifixion and death could have transformed them so. 

 If he did return from death, then Jesus is as He claimed, “the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” and our faith is not in vain. In His Name we find life, meaning, and the hope of eternity. Join the celebration! 

The Sacrifice


After studying journalism and law (Yale), Lee Strobel became an award-winning journalist at the Chicago Tribune.  His wife disrupted his secular life when she announced she had become a Christian.  Though pleasantly surprised by the change in her character, he remained skeptical of Christian claims of history and truth.  So he systematically interviewed experts in history, science, medicine, and psychology looking for answers.  You can read about it in The Case for Christ. 

We are in the midst of the season celebrating the central events of the Christian faith: the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.  Despite the evidence, skeptics remain.  Some question not only his death by crucifixion, but that Jesus even existed.

First-century historians Josephus, Tacitus, Pliny, and Thallus mention the Jesus story.  From these sources, we find that:  Jesus was a Jewish teacher that many believed performed miracles.  Some believed he was the Messiah, but not the Jewish leaders.  He was crucified until dead under Pontius Pilate, but his followers believed that he continued to live.  His following spread into the Roman world in the first century as people worshipped him as God.  All of this from non-Christian sources!

The Bible adds historical details to these accounts.  The Jewish leaders killed him because he was a perceived threat to their authority.  The Roman governor Pilate killed him, and washed his hands in front of the crowd to exonerate himself of innocent blood.  The angry mob killed him because they chose the known criminal Barabbas to be released instead.  As for Jesus, they shouted, “Crucify Him!”

So if a real Jesus lived and died, the next question is, “Why?”  I was enjoying lunch with a fellow once, when he pronounced that he respected Jesus because “he died for what he believed in.”  I almost choked.  To him, Jesus was just some revolutionary, an activist that got what was coming.  Didn’t his death mean much more than that?

A Hebrew prophet tells us, “The Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief” (Is 53:10).  Think of Jesus’ tortured death, then read that He “for the joy set before Him, endured the cross” (Heb 12:2).  Yes, joy! People may have carried out the death sentence, but it was God’s plan all along.  Why?  For us, for love.  Before the foundation of the world, God knew we would fall into sin; in love He prepared a Sacrifice to bear our sin and offer forgiveness.  His call is believe Him and accept what He has done for us.  It’s life-changing.

What became of Lee Strobel?  He was convinced by the evidence, and believed that Jesus lived and died on his behalf.  Might you also need to consider that you are the reason for the Sacrifice?


bonhoefferDietrich Bonhoeffer was a Christian pastor and theologian during World War II.   He lead a clandestine seminary in Germany for the Confessing Church, in defiance of the Nazis.  His experience living in close quarters with those pastors at Finkenwalde led to his book Life Together.  Later, Bonhoeffer chose to join a plot to rid the world of Hitler.  Tragically, he was captured and hanged by the Gestapo in April 1945, shortly before his concentration camp was liberated by the Allies. 

 He begins this book with, “How good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity” (Ps 133:1).  Then he develops his thesis that Christian community “is not an ideal which we must realize; it is rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate.” 

 Humans are created for community, which you might define as people with common interests networked by relationships.  We experience that through associations, civic clubs, and charities. Our kids’ schools, sports, and hobbies are other ways we connect.  Maybe the ‘Cheers’ sitcom was right.  We just want to be “where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came.” 

 Christian community is profound and unique because it is founded on Jesus Christ.  Believers share the life of Christ, and so belong to one another.  Together, we are the “body of Christ,” an expression of Christ in the flesh.  Frank Viola (Reimagining Church) challenges us “not only to proclaim the gospel, but to embody it by its communitarian life.” 

 How does the church embody the life of Christ?  Consider how many times the Bible uses “one another” in addressing the church.  We are not only members of one another, but are to pray for, be devoted to, submit to, and be of the same mind with one another.  Christians honor, accept, admonish, greet, and serve one another.  Perhaps the most difficult is to ‘bear with’ one another. 

 Bonhoeffer famously warns of loving the dream of community more than community itself.  Life can be messy when lived in close quarters.  The antidote is agape or sacrificial love within the church (1 Cor 13).  Show me a church that has loved its way through a crisis, and I’ll show you authentic community.  Living in community is a privilege that we too easily forego.  Bonhoeffer urges us to be thankful for what it is, since complaints only “hinder God from letting our fellowship grow according to the measure and riches which are there for us all in Jesus Christ.” 

 So now I ask you, Christian, who are you living your life with?  You might be missing out on something. 

 Endnote: I believe you will be inspired by one of the recent movies made about Bonhoeffer.



“I’m good” has become quite the humorous way to buffer a “No!”  When asked if we want something, the negative response is “I’m good.” Such as, “Do you want a coffee?” “I’m good.” Or, “Let’s walk on the ice over that lake!” “I’m good.”  

 The idea of goodness has worked its way into the conversation about the existence of God. Philosophers have posed the question, “Can we be good without God?” I would be out of my league to engage those thinkers, but some thoughts come to mind. Perhaps this will get you to thinking, too.  

Notice the question doesn’t demand belief in God. Sure, there are non-believers who do good things. The question is really about how we know what is good.  

 The secular answer is that our morals come from ourselves and whatever evolution has built into us, including survival of the fittest. As products of random chaos humans have no more intrinsic value than other species. So the value of a person and her morality are subjective. What or who she values is her choice.  

 The theist responds, how do you define good? When you acknowledge good and evil, that’s a moral law. Skeptic philosopher Immanuel Kant admitted, “Two things awe me most, the starry sky above me and the moral law within me.” If there’s a moral law, there must be a moral lawgiver. Moral law is innate to the value of a person. Where could that value and the moral law within us come from, if not God? Could molecules or chance do that? If there is good, there is God, so we cannot be good without Him.  

 The God of the Bible is loving and just. His moral commands are not arbitrary or random, but are an expression of His character. We are accountable, and our choices have eternal consequence. He values us enough to provide a Savior to balance the scales of justice, and enable us to live lives of moral consequence today.  

 William Lane Craig thinks logically that “if God does not exist, then it is plausible to think that there are no objective moral values, that we have no moral duties, and that there is no moral accountability for how we live and act. The horror of such a morally neutral world is obvious. If, on the other hand, we hold, as it seems rational to do, that objective moral values and duties do exist, then we have good grounds for believing in the existence of God.”  

 The story goes that a wealthy young man approached Jesus with a question. Jesus answered, “There is only One who is good.” Without God to define good, the question of good without God cannot even be asked! So, the next time someone answers you, “I’m good,” that could start an interesting conversation!

Don’t Worry

WorryI have a doctor friend that once explained to me that the human body is not designed to handle worry and stress.  He cited an assortment of diseases of the heart, stomach, and skin that can be the body’s warning signs.  Yet we worry. 

 I recently took an informal poll of friends at church and strangers in a store, and I found the usual laundry list of things that burden our minds.  We worry about health, finances, and relationships in the past, present, or future.  We worry about things near (driver’s license) and far (global politics and economics). 

 The Bible has much to say about the world as we experience it, and worry is no exception.  The Biblical word for worry is literally a ‘divided mind.’  Max Lucado writes, “Anxiety splits our energy between today’s priorities and tomorrow’s problems.  Part of our mind is on the now; the rest is on the not yet, the result is half-minded living.” 

 So to that end, I offer five ways to become ‘whole-minded.’  Jesus said it much better as recorded in Matthew 6, and I urge you to read it for yourself. 

  1.  Understand what life is. It is more than human needs.  Embrace difficulty as an opportunity to persevere and succeed.  Our character and convictions are forged in the fires of trials, which make us who we are.

 2.  Realize your value. You are made in the image of God, and are an expression of his loving, creative touch.  Even if you don’t think He exists, He loves and values you.  Surely, then, you do not walk alone.

 3.  Stop controlling. Yeah, everybody knows a control freak, but this is not about them, but you!  Worry does not add to your life or solve problems, but it certainly takes something out of you and makes things worse.  Some things are simply beyond your means to control, so in the lyrics of that Frozen movie, ‘Let it go’!

 4.  Live in today. Each day has enough cares of its own. There are too many things that can change by tomorrow whether you worried about it or not.   Do what’s in your means to do now. 

 5.  Trust God. Worry and trust are awkward companions.  Trust cannot demand that God be your fixer, but it does accept that He is near and personal.  He may not move the mountain but will walk with you over it.  Seeking God and pondering the treasures in his Word leave little room for worry. 

 Don’t be that jokester that says, “Worrying must work for me!  Most of the things I worry about never happen!”  Stuff happens, but don’t make yourself sick worrying about it.