Evidence for Easter?

We sometimes think of Jesus as having walked this earth a long, long time ago, and it was. But looking at it another way, it was only 20 centuries ago. Twenty spans of 100 years each.

Christians believe we also will come back to life in a new form on the other side of the grave. That is the Easter promise.

To help visualize this time span, think of any 90- or 100-year-old you know. Several of my grandparents lived well into their 90s. Recently a colleague traveled to Iowa for the birthday of his 106-year-old grandfather.

So just 20 of those long lifetimes ago, Jesus walked this earth. That kind of makes it feel not that long ago to me. My kids are always amused by my time crunches like this, when I say things like “Well, I’m just a little over 60 which might as well be 59 which would make me in my 50s which is practically 40 which you might as well say is 39.”

But back to Good Friday when Jesus walked this earth and then was killed. Executed as a political insurrectionist. Roman imperial soldiers were sent to guard his tomb, covered by a mammoth stone. He is dead.

On the third day, the stone was rolled away. The tomb was empty. This much is pretty well accepted as fact by Christians everywhere. What happened?

Jesus came back to life in a new form (spiritual, that could go through walls and zip around, but also tangible, that his followers claim to have felt and touched). Christians believe we also will come back to life in a new form on the other side of the grave. Likely only spiritual, in a new reality, where we are with God in a new way. That is the Easter promise.

A few years ago I helped edit Myron Augsburger’s book The Resurrection Life (Evangel Publishing House, 2005), where the theologian and former college president pulls together all of his stories and views regarding how believing in a living, resurrected Jesus “sets Christianity apart from all other religions.” I particularly liked this paragraph

The resurrection of Christ Jesus is unique to the Christian faith. Our belief is a faith response to the evidence of the empty tomb, and a faith response to the witness of the disciples—of having seen the risen Christ and of the change in their lives. We also have the evidence that this resurrection power has changed believer’s lives through the centuries…. I have seen God at work transforming lives today, a transformation that we each need and which happens by the power of the spirit. (p. 19)

Augsburger says, “Our belief is a faith response.” A much younger writer/blogger/author, Rachel Held Evans, has written about how not to take the Bible literally on some points in her book A Year of Biblical Womanhood. She has appeared on the Today Show and many other secular media outlets and spoke on a college campus in our town recently. She related how when an interviewer pushes her into a corner and asks her how she can still believe in God as an educated woman, she says something like “I’m willing to be wrong—that’s what makes this faith. I’m choosing to obey and follow Jesus in spite of doubts.”

I happen to be writing this on the day that my father got his “resurrection life” eight years ago in March of 2006. These are some of the Bible verses that help me choose to have faith and trust that I will be with my earthly father again someday, and also my heavenly Father.

“We walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

“For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?” (Romans 8:24)

“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror, then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part, then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).

Finally, this classic

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).

Do you believe? What is faith to you? Happy, happy resurrection day!

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Posted 4/10/2014 7:00:00 AM

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