Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Because of the Resurrection

            According to Mark, Jesus warned his disciples three times that he would be arrested, tried, and killed by the religious leaders with the help of the Roman authorities. He also told them that he would rise again after three days. Naturally the disciples did not understand his warnings and they were afraid to ask him what he was talking about. Since their conception of Jesus was as a conquering military hero (their view of Messiah) set to punish the Romans and restore the fortunes of Israel, they had no room in their minds for Jesus to die. They simply could not imagine Jesus dead!

            The cross cruelly crushed their hopes that Jesus might be the Messiah. It must have been devastating to have seen so much power and authority in Jesus and then to watch not only Jesus, but all their dreams, die in a horrible way. Their whole faith structure collapsed and they were not sure what to do with their lives. The only thing they were completely sure about was that Jesus was dead and buried. And then the stories started coming in on a Sunday morning… Jesus is alive – he has resurrected! They all doubted. They simply could not imagine Jesus alive!

            What a weekend the early disciples experienced. They could not imagine Jesus dead because they did not understand the willingness of God to wade into our pain and loss, taking upon himself our sins, frailties and mortality. They could not imagine Jesus alive because they did not understand the power of God to turn tragedy into triumph and death into eternal life. Luke says they “still did not believe it because of joy and amazement!” They did not want their faith to be based on wishful thinking, but on the rock of truth. And Jesus said, “Do you have anything here to eat?” Wishful thinking does not eat broiled fish. Jesus was truly alive.     

            Confronted by the resurrected Jesus, challenged to grow in their faith, and recommitted to their mission to serve as witnesses of the resurrected Savior – the disciples took the message of Jesus to the known world! It was not an easy task. The resurrection was as hard for others to believe as it had been for them. Their tale of a crucified God was non-sense to many people. But the power and beauty of the gospel did touch many hearts and lives and the church experienced amazing growth. In the resurrection of Jesus people found hope that gave meaning to life and removed their fear of death. The resurrection became the heart of Christianity, for if the resurrection is not true then Christianity is dead. But if it is true that God raised Jesus from the dead – never to die again – then an awesome power has been unleashed in the world that changes everything we thought we knew. Because of the resurrection, death has been defeated and life wins!  

- Kenny Payne

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