Before the Cross – Easter Devotion 16

“The early church did not invent the empty tomb or the resurrection sightings of Jesus,” said historian N.T. Wright. “Nobody was expecting this kind of thing, no conversion experience or experience of being forgiven, no matter how guilty they felt, no matter how many hours they pored over the Scriptures would have created it. To suggest otherwise is to stop doing history and enter into fantasy.”

We do not have a faith that was created by man. We do not have a fanciful story of a dead man rising stolen from another ancient religion. There are, in fact, other religions in antiquity who believed their leader had died and risen again… but all of them… ALL OF THEM… came into existence after Christianity had begun.

The skeptic of the Christian faith has a problem… actually two. First, where would this idea ever have come from in the world of the first Christians, since the idea of a risen corpse would have been repugnant to the Romans of the day? They believed the body was a prison to escape. To build a religion around a man who was dead and returned to live in his corpse would have been foolishness to the Roman mind.

Added to this, the Jews of the first century did believe in resurrection, but not of a single person and not until the world had been returned to perfect justice and order. None of that had happened. For them, a resurrection of a single person was ridiculous… a “scandal” as Paul suggested. The world hadn’t changed.

So where did the idea of a resurrection come from? The second problem for the skeptic is where did the church come from? If not from the reality of a physical resurrection, then… what? How did a movement that has survived over two millennia begin?

The burden of proof is on the skeptic to explain these two problems. Unless… they are not problems.

They are truth.

FOR MEDITATION: “He is not here, He is risen as He said….” Matt 28:6

FOR REFLECTION: The centerpiece of all we believe as Christians is an empty tomb. Be ready, in this season of focus on Easter, to “give an answer for the hope that is in you.”