The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ of Nazareth stands as the pivotal point of history for His followers. To understand who Jesus was and why He came to earth one must come to grips with the significance of the cross and the empty tomb.
Modern liberal theologians steep in the higher criticism of Scripture and often with an unholy alliance with science and modern reason have scoffed at the claims of the empty tomb. Theories and theologies have arisen to explain in nature terms what I believe to be a supernatural event.
One such theory was the “swoon theory” which suggested that Jesus did not really die on the cross he simply passed out or went into a coma only to be revived in the coolness of the tomb and was nursed by to health by His band of followers. Yes again, radio Bible teacher had a lady recount to him how her pastor believed and preached this theory. I love his reply, Dr. McGee said:
“Dear Sister, beat your preacher with a leather whip for thirty-nine heavy strokes. Nail him to a cross. Hang him in the sun for six hours Run a spear through his heart. Embalm him. Put him in an airless tomb for three days. Then see what happens.”
Let me go on record, I don’t recommending the beating of pastors, but I think Dr. McGee rightly made the point. If the biblical record is remotely cost to the truth of what happened to Jesus it was remarkable he lived as long as he did on the cross. Some liberal scholar may have trouble with the resurrection, but we must all come to grips with His death.
I believe German Theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg captured well the essence of the struggle of many in the post-modern and modern world when he declared:
The evidence for Jesus’ resurrection is so strong that nobody would question it except for two things: First, it is a very unusual event. And second, if you believe it happened, you have to change the way you live.
I was particularly struck by his second powerful observation, “if you believe it happened—you have to change the way you live.” I think Pannenberg has gone to meddling and stepping on toes as we say in Baptist life. Too many of us dress up in our Easter best, and join with the throngs of “believers” who gather to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus for a day or season yet our lives show no evidence we really believe He is alive.
My Easter Prayer: Lord, may our daily lives reflect the power and the glory of your resurrection in everything we do and say.