Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Easter - Hope Lives!

It's the Easter season again, a time when the thoughts of many turn to the events that transpired some 2,000 years ago in an outpost of the Roman Empire called Jerusalem. Jesus Christ was crucified, and after three days was raised again to life. Upon this truth Christianity came into being. But is it true?

I've compiled quotes from various authors on the subject and will conclude with thoughts of my own. Please leave your own comment, I'd love to hear from you.

"Christianity, if false, is not important. If Christianity is true, however, it is infinitely important. What it cannot be is moderately important."

"Personally, I am convinced that no body of men or women could persistently and successfully have preached in Jerusalem a doctrine involving a vacancy of that tomb [of Christ], without the grave itself being physically vacant. The facts were too recent; the tomb too close to the seething center of oriental life. Not all the make-believe in the world could have purchased the utter silence of antiquity or given to the records their impressive unanimity. Only the truth itself, in all of its unavoidable simplicity, could have achieved that."
- Frank Morison, Who Moved the Stone?(Zondervan, 1971)

"There is more evidence that Jesus rose from the dead than there is that Julius Caesar ever lived or Alexander the Great died at the age of 33. It is strange that historians accept thousands of facts for which they can produce only shreds of evidence. But in the face of overwhelming evidence of the resurrection of Jesus Christ they cast a skeptical eye and hold intellectual doubts. The trouble with those people is that they do not want to believe."
- Billy Graham, Peace with God

"I claim to be an historian. My approach to Classics is historical. And I tell you that the evidence for the life, the death, and the resurrection of Christ is better authenticated than most of the facts of ancient history ..."           
- E. M. Blaiklock - Professor of Classics, Auckland University

"Without question, it was the conquered grave that gave the message its impetus. The man who best exemplified this radical change was Saul of Tarsus, known to the world as the Apostle Paul. This young man was a Hebrew by birth, who had studied at the feet of Gamaliel. He was a citizen of Rome, the central city of the great empire to which all roads led, the center of pagan culture. He was raised in the Greek city of Tarsus, whose university eclipsed even that of Athens. His background could not have been better suited to speak to the world. The Hebrews gave the world its moral categories; the Greeks its philosophical categories; and the Romans its legal categories. With prerogatives of birth and privileges of learning, young Saul was the immovable object that could not be dislodged, except by the irresistable force - the person of Jesus Christ. That occurred in the spectacular post-resurrection encounter on the Damascus Road."
- Ravi Zacharias, A Shattered Visage, p. 158.

"I have been usd for many years to study the histories of other times and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them, and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair enquirer, then the great sign which God has given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead."
- Thomas Arnold, Sermons on the Christian Life, p. 124. (Holder of the Chair of Modern History - Oxford University)

"So if one is to assail the historicity of the Resurrection and therefore the deity of Christ, one must conclude that there was a conspiracy - a cover-up if you will - by eleven men with the complicity of up to five hundred others. To subscribe to this argumnt, one must also be ready to believe that each disciple was willing to be ostracized by friends and family, live in daily fear of death, endure prisons, live penniless and hungry, sacrifice family, be tortured without mercy, and ultimately die - all without ever once renouncing that Jesus had risen from the dead!"
- Charles Colson - Loving God, p. 68.

"He planted the only durable rumor of hope amid the widespread despair of a hopeless world."

"This is the great choice every human being has to make: Is the resurrection account true or only a myth? If the latter, it is an abomination, taking away any validity to the Christian claim. Believing that the resurrection was merely symbolic doesn't create liberal Christianity or a more enlightened version of our faith as many argue; it reduces Christianity to something utterly vain, a belief system like paganism. For if we were to believe Christ was not bodily raised, then Christianity would rest on the belief in a human sacrifice - offering an innocent man to die for our sins. This is not enlightened thinking; it is barbaric. It is why so-called liberal Christianity is untenable, no better than paganism."
- Charles Colson, The Faith, p. 92.

"That Jesus succeeded in changing a snuffling band of unreliable followers into fearless evangelists, that eleven men who had deserted him at death now went to martyr's graves avowing their faith in a resurrected Christ, that these few witnesses managed to set loose a force that would overcome violent opposition first in Jerusalem and then in Rome - this remarkable sequence of transformation offers the most convincing evidence for the Resurrection. What else explains the whiplash change in men known for their cowardice and instability?...One need only read the Gospels' descriptions of disciples huddling behind locked doors and then proceed to the descriptions in Acts of the same men proclaiming Christ openly in the streets and in jail cells to perceive the seismic significance of what took place on Easter Sunday. The Resurrection is the epicenter of belief."
- Philip Yancey, The Jesus I Never Knew, pp 216-217.  

All of these quotes give reasons for believing in the resurrection. There are many others. Witness the journeys of men like Lee Strobels, C.S. Lewis, Lew Wallace and a host of others who examined the evidence as skeptics and came away convinced that it was true. I count myself among their number.

Having been raised in the church I turned my back and walked away as a teenager, having had a crisis of faith. After taking my own journey, I came to the conclusion that it was indeed true and finally opened my heart to the transformation that Christ offers. My own experience is all of the evidence that I need to know that He Lives! 

I'll leave the final word to Jesus Himself, then enjoy this classic from Dr. S.M. Lockridge: "The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life -only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father." - John 10:17-18

Related Articles:
The Truth About Easter
Another Jesus Conspiracy Theory
The Cross of Jesus Christ
Book Review: "Why Jesus?"
What Is a Christ-follower?
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