March 30, 2015
This blog post is part one of four.
The resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth is either one of the most wicked, vicious, heartless hoaxes ever foisted on the minds of humanity, or it’s the most important fact of history. – Josh McDowell
This statement does not leave a lot of neutral ground – it is either one thing or the other. To look at both sides of the argument, we should consider the consequences of either part of the statement being correct. So firstly let’s assume that the first part of the statement is true. Why is it such a cruel hoax if it is a lie?
Well to start with, looking at the early church, if it was not true then all the so-called witnesses of the resurrection knew it was untrue, and yet set about spreading this lie throughout the known world. They not only risked their own lives, but put in danger the lives of all who believed them. Many were martyred and thus threw their lives away for nothing. All through the ages the lie has spread and countless numbers of people have sacrificed their life for a belief in something which is totally empty. In this century alone, more people have been martyred for Christ than in all the centuries gone before us (NOTE: the word ‘martyrdom’ used here refers to personal martyrdom where a person has sacrificed their life solely due to their persistence in the belief of Christ crucified and resurrected. It does not include so-called “martyrs” who have died fighting “holy-wars”).
In fact no religion or belief has ever been the cause for such a vast number of martyrs, which in itself makes the resurrection one of the most horrific lies ever told, if indeed it is a lie. In fact the numbers of empty, pointless deaths would make Hitler seem like a charity worker. To come closer to home, let’s look at personal losses resulting from a belief in the resurrection of Jesus. Christians can become totally alienated from their families, rejected and even hated because of their faith. Friends with whom we share the gospel, we risk losing because of what we are telling them. Not only are we jeopardising these friendships, but we are deceiving them and offering them a false hope, which could ruin their lives here on earth. To start, or even help in the spreading of such a lie, is akin to the medical world telling people that eating lumps of sodium and then drinking water is good for your health. Not only does it cause such a totally wasteful loss of life, but the people that initiate the lie know it to be untrue.
Paul in his first letter to the Corinthian church, had this to say about the resurrection of Christ :
“And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead, But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised … If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins … If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.”
1 Corinthians 15 : 14 – 19.
But what if it is a fact?
If the resurrection is true and it actually did happen at some point in history, then the picture is TOTALLY different. No matter how many times you may have heard these words, just really consider the magnitude of it: God, the God who created the universe, came down to earth as a man to walk amongst people like you and me. He went through unbelievable suffering and pain, and died on a cross to provide an escape for mankind, from his sin against God. Because we deserve it? No, purely and solely because He loves us. He then conquered death, to rise and ascend into heaven, where He now sits and reigns over us.
So what of the atrocities that are caused by spreading the story of Christ’s resurrection? Well let’s take another look at them in this new light. The apostles and witnesses to the resurrection knew so certainly that they had the truth, that they could not help but try and share it with all the people. They had no fear of death because man could only destroy their bodies, and send them to be with their Lord and saviour. The deaths of the countless martyrs only served to have the same result, in sending the individuals to be with God in heaven, where they will be rewarded for their faithfulness to the end. Christians alienated from their family now enter an infinitely larger family with countless brothers and sisters, whereas their earthly family is only temporary. Friends you may lose by sharing the Gospel with, may on the other hand become eternal friends who you can be with in heaven, and rather than offering an empty hope to them, you have the most amazing gift imaginable to share with them.
Basically, the whole of Christianity hinges on Christ and His resurrection, which makes it unique. It is possible to have the Muslim religion and beliefs without Muhammad, and Buddhism could quite easily exist without a Buddha. However, Christianity without the resurrection is empty and nothing. This is what makes it so important to know that the resurrection is a fact, an historical event with numerous witnesses, rather than an idea cooked up by a small group of sulking, religious fanatics who had lost their leader, and didn’t want to admit it.
Since the consequences of either side of the argument being true are so great, it is essential that we question its truth. Because if under scrutiny it does fail to be true, then not only should the Christian message be ignored, but we should be actively trying to stop those who are spreading it. If it does turn out to be true, then it requires a response, because of the implications of its truth. Either way, it is not something that can be viewed as just “interesting”, but rather as something of far more global importance.