This past Easter was like no other that I have ever experienced. Instead of dressing up and going to church, I stayed home (but I still dressed up). Instead of potlucks and meals with friends or the entire church, I ate fast food and leftovers with my brother.
I did buy chocolate: Reese’s Peanut Butter cups.
But is that Easter is all about? Dressing up, food, chocolate, and the Easter bunny? New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden says the Easter Bunny is an “essential worker” during this crisis.
For Christians, Easter is probably the highest point of our spiritual calendar, perhaps more than Christmas because Christmas points to the Cross. Jesus was born to die on that cross 2000 years ago so that the justice of God meets the mercy of God.
Most importantly Jesus rose again three days later to bring new life. The resurrection is not an afterthought to the act of sacrifice.
The Resurrection is the central theological tenet of Christianity. It is arguably the event that defined and redefined human history. Before, mankind had no hope and clung to religion and superstitions to make sense of the universe. The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians said if the Resurrection was false, then Christians were the most wretched of all mankind. But if the resurrection of Jesus Christ is true, it is the ultimate source of hope and life. Paul declared that death will be defeated and the grave has lost its victory.
There are two dimensions to the resurrection: Jesus died a physical death and raised to new physical body, all of which was accomplished by supernatural means.
To understand just how miraculous the Resurrection is, we can look simply at the wounds Jesus endured. This counters one of the challenges that Jesus merely swooned (the Swooning Theory). This theory has been debunked but there are countless who still hold to some form of it.
- When Jesus was arrested by the guards, He was beaten repeatedly with rods.
- Next, Jesus was scourged 39 times, the maximum allowed under Jewish law. The whips used contained not just leather knots and thongs, but pieces of sharp metal that would rip into skin and muscle. Most people punished this way did not survive past the tenth or eleventh strike. For Jesus to survive three times that showed his own raw strength and will to survive.
- By this time, Jesus must have lost over 50% of his blood and had his entire back ripped to shreds. Yet, he was still coherent and on his feet. From Jerusalem to Golgotha is a distance of about a mile and half. Despite his injuries, Jesus carried the heavy wooden cross beam until Simon the Cyrene carried the cross to the hill.
- Fourth, we have to consider the mechanics of crucifixion. This method of execution was meant to be degrading, humiliating, and ultimately it was death by suffocation. The criminal on the cross was nailed to the cross. A spike was driven through the wrists and then the legs were forced together before they too had a spike driven through them. Although the Bible used the word “hands”, in reality, the palm of the hand was not strong enough. The criminal was able to breathe in, but not breathe out.
- There was no way Jesus could have pulled himself off the cross; He had no free hands or legs to do so. Stage magicians that often perform stunts where they are bound usually have a fail safe. There are no fail-safes on a cross.
- To speed up the crucifixion, a Roman soldier thrust his spear into Jesus’s side where blood and water came out. The direct thrust punctured Jesus’s heart. This killing blow should erase all doubts, even though he already died. Jesus’s last words – “Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit”, and “It is Finished” – were spoken before the spear thrust.
Therefore, for the Resurrection to happen:
- His brain, heart, lungs – all must restart immediately. The ruptured heart must be repaired. Today, it would take a team of surgeons just to do all three and constantly monitor the patient. There were no attending physicians at the tomb.
- All the loss of blood must be replenished. Today, we have IV and plasma infusions, preferably taken from compatible donors. There were no donors at the tomb, let alone IV drips and plasma infusions on that day in Jerusalem.
- Jesus was later seen walking, talking, cooking, and eating – all actions that require the back and arm muscles. Someone would have to repair the damaged muscles. Depending on the severity, it might require some PT over the next few weeks. All that was healed in 3 days.
There are really only two conclusions: either the miracle occurred as described in the Gospels, or it did not. On the “no” side, there are plenty of arguments besides the Swooning Theory: the wrong tomb, the theft by the disciples, substitution of Judas (Islam), or mass hallucinations, but all of them fall apart in light of the historical and physical evidence.
But perhaps the strongest opposition is not physical but metaphysical; it starts with a materialist, secular, humanist view that the supernatural does not exist and therefore no miracles are possible.
If love, truth, justice, compassion, and virtues are all human constructs, then why do we need a resurrection?
Why do we need forgiveness and give forgiveness to others?
Scottish philosopher David Hume set the bar for miracles so high that it seemed almost impossible.
I think in this situation, we have to work backwards; usually what we believe about love, truth, and justice dictate how we act in the physical world – whether we are loving, tell the truth, and obey the laws.
In the case of the Resurrection, if the physical evidence is conclusive and after discarding all the other objections, what then is left? A supernatural explanation.
This is not just an academic discussion. The Resurrection makes a huge difference personally. Because of the Resurrection, I can die to false religion and be made alive in Christ – real life. Because of the Resurrection, my old self- the angry, depressed, selfish person – died and I have the power to deal with life’s challenges in a positive, Christ-centered way.
I hope that you will realize just how miraculous the Resurrection was, and is. It changed the world. It changes millions of people. It changes me and still is. It can change you.
3 thoughts on “What Easter is all about”
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