As we approach Easter Weekend (Maundy Thursday – Easter Sunday, 14th-17th April), we are reminded again that Christianity hangs or falls on the credibility of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. C.S Lewis wrote this oft quoted statement:
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about (Jesus Christ): I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell.
You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
Jesus’ death and subsequent resurrection are the hinge of history. C.S. Lewis again “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and, if true, of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important.”
More recently, one of the best, careful, and accessible writers about the credibility of Christianity, is Lee Strobel. He is a law-trained journalist at the Chicago Tribune, and has written several books examining the evidence for Christianity (e.g. The Case for Christ, The Case for Easter, The Case for Miracles). He starts with the biggest claim made by the followers of Jesus, that he truly died, and was then raised to life again.
“I also knew something else: dead bodies stay dead. I had seen lots of corpses during my career as a reporter, and none of them ever regained life, especially after three days.”
Was Jesus really dead after his ordeal on the cross? Was his tomb actually empty on that first Easter Morning? And did credible people subsequently encounter him?
Strobel gives 4 critical pieces of evidence:
- Sources Outside of the Bible confirm that Jesus was executed
- The news spread quickly, 1 Corinthians 15:3-7
- Jesus’ burial tomb was empty
- There are eye-witness accounts of resurrected Jesus
I find it stunning today that so many people doubt Jesus’ very existence: but no credible historian shares these doubts.
Some might say they are “agnostic”; but of course, this is the Greek word for “ignorant”. I don’t mean that rudely, but simply that there is a new generation of people who just do not know the facts of the matter: Jesus lived, and Jesus influenced countless numbers of people in the Ancient Near East just over 2,000 years ago, and was executed on a Roman cross. Moreover, it is widely attested that Jesus rose again from the dead.
This evidence is at least worth a look! John Lennox wrote along similar lines:
“God is not a prisoner of the laws of nature…God who set the regularities there, can himself feed a new event into the system from outside. Science cannot stop Him from doing that.”
Hopefully you have been able to join us for some of the Passion for Life events (see, www.cc-vw.org/life)? In addition to Easter Weekend, we particularly commend the visit of John Lennox: Saturday 23rd April, premiering the film “Against the Tide” about Science and Faith, then he will be interviewed on Sunday, 10:30am.
In these challenging and troubling days, as world events continue to shock and disturb, we pray that this Easter you may know afresh the Peace of Christ, and his risen presence.