I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine yesterday. I’ve known him for quite a while. He’s a spiritual guy and he’s a genuinely nice, caring and good person.
I’m a bit ashamed to say, however, that I never really asked him about his perspective on spiritual stuff before even though I’ve been pretty open about my view point. It’s not so much that I didn’t care. I guess I figured if he wanted to share he’d bring it up without my asking. Lesson learned.
One of Many
Anyway it turns out that among other things the spiritual system he subscribes to sees Jesus as one of many of a long line of prophets throughout time.
We talked a little bit about that and why he sees it that way. He’s got a very positive view of Jesus and his teachings. Even so, my friend doesn’t see Jesus as more authoritative then other prophets that he looks to for spiritual insight.
Then I asked him a question that I think gets to the crux of the matter.
How does the system you subscribe to view Jesus’ resurrection?
Because here is the thing. Everything that makes up Christianity hinges on the resurrection of Jesus.
Jesus claimed to be God. He did a bunch of miracles to validate that claim. But other people have done (and still do) miracles even though they aren’t God.
However those other people don’t predict that they’ll be raised from the dead, then die and actually get resurrected.
Jesus predicted he would. So if he wasn’t resurrected then it completely discredits everything he said and stood for. If the resurrection of Jesus didn’t happen then all of Christianity is nothing more than a useless list of rules to live by.
It reduces Jesus to a quaint figure from a backwater part of the world at an obscure time in history.
On the other hand if Jesus really was raised from the dead then that changes everything.
If the resurrection really happened the way it is depicted in the Bible, then it validates everything that Jesus said and did. That very act gives Jesus the authority and demonstrates his power in a way that nothing else could.
Foundation of the Faith
The apostle Paul placed so much importance on the issue of the resurrection that he said it is the one thing that has to be believed to get into right standing with God.
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. — Romans 10:9-10
Obviously what we believe about the resurrection of Jesus is pretty important.
As a side note, the church (at least throughout most of America it seems) has put a huge emphasis on the “confessing with your mouth” part of the whole thing. I think all too often it even goes to the point of completely neglecting the “believe in your heart” part. The effect is that we have tons of folks who call themselves Christians who are “saved” but have not been “made right with God.” My take is this is the main reason why so much of modern Christianity has become so ineffective at changing lives anymore.
But I digress.
Search for the Truth
Fortunately for my friend and I, even though we are in very different places at the moment, our spiritual journeys are both motivated by a strong desire to know the truth. Because of that I am confident that we will both end up in the same place eventually.
Ultimately there is no way to “prove” that the resurrection really happened or didn’t happen. Since none of us were actually there, all we can do is evaluate the evidence make a choice to believe or disbelieve based on that evidence.
No matter how much evidence we uncover it never gets us all the way there. There will always be a measure of faith mixed in. The Bible says it this way.
And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.— Hebrews 11:6
So the question is this. What do you believe about the resurrection of Jesus Christ?