Faith in the Resurrection of Christ is the cornerstone of Christian hope. Christ's victory over sin and death is our victory. Yes, Christ has truly risen from the dead! As Jesus says to Thomas, "Doubt no longer but believe!"
Can 21st century Christians really be expected to be believe that Jesus actually rose from the dead?
Living, as we do, in an age of scepticism many might be tempted to dismiss Christianity as an ancient hoax. Even some Christians might be tempted to play-down the resurrection of the Christ, like the modernist scripture scholars of the 1960's who tried to suggest that Jesus merely "rose" in the hearts of the disciples on Easter Sunday. The insincerity of such a position is as contemptible to an atheist as to a believing Christian. It's obvious that such a person doesn't actually believe in the Resurrection of Christ as a real historical event, but as some nice, poetic fable or myth. Yet no one could be expected to commit their entire life to a myth or a fable.
The Apostles are more than aware of the difficulty of proclaiming faith in Christ crucified and risen from the dead. The power of their conviction comes from the authenticity of their personal witness. Whatever sceptics might say, it’s abundantly obvious that they are thoroughly convinced that Jesus rose from the dead. They would literally stake their lives on this belief. In his Second Letter St Peter writes, “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” (2Peter 1:16). St John opens his first letter with this testimony: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life - the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and testify to it, and proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us - that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.” (1John 1-3).
St Paul likewise shows the compelling strength of the apostolic witness: “Now I would remind you, brethren, in what terms I preached to you the gospel, which you received, in which you stand, by which you are saved, if you hold it fast—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. …Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.” (1 Corinthians 15:1-8,11).
Yes, we believe that Jesus has risen from the dead and now lives to intercede for us in heaven. We join the billions of the faithful from the past two thousand years who have come to faith in Christ’s resurrection and the hope it offers for our salvation. Amid the turmoil and trials of life, our faith assures us of God’s plan for our redemption in Christ. Yes, the Lord has truly risen from the dead, so that having conquered Satan, sin and death, we may becomes sharers in his own glorious life.
Resurrexit sicut dixit - "The Lord has risen as he said!"
I wish you and your families a blessed, joyful and holy Easter!
Fr Francis Denton