Sunday, April 24, 2011

Jesus is Risen!

We woke up to a blanket of fresh, spring snow! The world is white, fresh, and clean. Easter in Colorado never fails to disappoint!

Today we celebrate that Jesus, the long-awaited Jewish Messiah rose from the dead on a Sunday morning almost 2,000 years ago. The Resurrection changed everything! Eleven disappointed, doubting, scared, heart-broken disciples, greeted by Mary's unbelievable news, were transformed in a short time into fearless, unwavering, bold apostles, sent into the world with the Good News that sinful men can be redeemed and transformed. Jesus' Resurrection validated all that He ever taught and did. It was the final proof that He was the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity.

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul, another eyewitness to the Risen Messiah, wrote that if Jesus had not risen, Christians would be the most pitiful people on earth, lying about God, without hope, lost and foolish. (Funny how many think that way anyway!) Christianity would have died before it was born. The disciples would have gone back to fishing, farming and tax collecting, and all would have been forgotten. Instead, 10 of the 11 died martyrs' deaths and the 11th, John was imprisoned for his faith. All died courageously testifying that they had seen Jesus alive after He was crucified.

Flavius Josephus, the Jewish General who tried unsuccessfully to defend Jerusalem from the Romans in AD 70, became a historian and wrote about Jesus and the early Christians. Tacitus, a first century Roman historian also wrote about the beliefs of the early Christians. Neither one was a Christian, and both were critical of the early Christians, but they both verify Jesus' existence and the belief of early Christians that He was the Jewish Messiah, that he performed miracles and that he rose from the dead.*

The Resurrection changes everything. Because of it, Christians know that Jesus is God, that everything He taught is true, that there is salvation in no other name, that Christians who have died will rise again, and that we do not have to fear death, because Jesus conquered both sin and death, and will give eternal life to any who trust in Him for salvation. Let the critics try and say He never existed. Let atheists and agnostics question the reliability of the Scriptures. Let a sinful world reject the Gospel because accepting it would take away the pleasure (and pain) of their sin. I know that my Redeemer lives! It's like a bright, white, fresh, snowy morning in the mountains. Freedom is a wonderful thing. The Resurrection changes everything!

* While I have little doubt that the Testimonium Flavianum was altered by later Christian editors, the core message from Josephus, believable as a Jew writing on the subject, was that the earliest believers held as fact that Jesus was the Messiah, did miracles, was crucified on a Roman cross and rose from the dead on the third day.

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