Four Words That Make All the Difference: ‘Jesus’ Resurrection Really Happened’
We Christians get charged with arrogance. The accusation is at least partly true: We really do believe Christianity is different. It’s unique. It has the one great, good-news answer the entire world seeks. That really is arrogant — unless it really is the good news the whole world needs.
But what makes Christianity so different? Four words explain it all: Jesus’ resurrection really happened!
No article could begin to tell what a great a difference Jesus Himself makes. I’ll stick with just one point, by way of example. Jesus stands at the center of Christianity, like no other religious leader.
Hinduism looks to no individual at all as its founder. Buddhism is about the message, not the Buddha. Muslims honor Muhammad, but they’ll quickly say that Allah could have chosen someone else as his prophet, had it been his will. The same even goes for all the prophets honored in Judaic and Christian tradition — all but one.
Jesus made Himself the center of His message. His teaching was superb, but His teaching wouldn’t have saved us without His own personal presence among us — God in the flesh, experiencing life with us, showing us how to live it, demonstrating God’s love face to face, and then saving us by His death and resurrection.
No other religion claims a resurrected founder — only Christianity. Only Jesus answered the world’s single greatest question — Can death be overcome? — by freely dying for us, then rising again in victory.
Defeating death required overcoming sin (human failure in ethical living and relationship with God). He Himself died to accomplish that victory. “He was handed over to die because of our sins,” says Romans 4:25 (NLT), “and he was raised to life to make us right with God.”
Not only does no other religion feature a resurrection, none other brings the great news at the core of Christianity: God Himself did the work needed to make us right with Him. All we need to do is trust Him; He’s done the rest.
And because He rose, we too can live forever! Death is defeated; in Christ, life gets the last laugh. And we can enjoy the confidence of knowing we have a forever future ahead of us, with the God who loves us.
Jesus’ resurrection was real. The accounts we have are consistent. Many of His disciples died for proclaiming His resurrection. Skeptics say, “Lots of people die for lies,” but no one dies for lies they themselves made up. Charles Colson used to talk about the Watergate conspiracy, in which he and others were trying to keep a secret to save their necks. It lasted less than two weeks. The disciples stayed constant even when their literal necks were literally on the chopping block, or when they faced execution by other brutal means.
Saul of Tarsus was Christianity’s first, most ferocious enemy. No credible historian doubts that; none questions the fact that something changed him drastically, to become Christianity’s most powerful proponent. There’s no good explanation for that change, other than his own living encounter with the risen Jesus.
Jesus left behind a small and seemingly inconsequential band of frightened followers. Yet they founded a movement that’s still growing, still changing the world 2,000 years later. What powered such a bold, long-lasting movement? Only His resurrection.
And the reality of Jesus’ resurrection caps off His unique place in history, proving the credibility of His claim to be God in the flesh.
I could go on much, much longer; but as I’ve already said, there’s only so much space.
A lot of us miss this one. This isn’t mere “spiritual” reality we’re talking about, the sort that says, “Whether it happened isn’t so important; what matters is what happens in your heart as you meditate on it.”
Every other religion is centered on a philosophy that could have come from anyone or anywhere. Christianity grows out of a long history of God’s actual dealings with real people in authentic history, culminating in the life of Christ.
A couple friends of mine were talking this morning about their recent Israel trip, where they visited the room where Jesus’ Last Supper is thought to have taken place. Whether it was the real location is debatable, but the fact remains, there was an actual place where Jesus washed His disciples’ actual dusty feet, and shared an actual cup and loaf with them.
The whole account is like that. Jesus was no mere “spiritual reality.” Where He walked He left footprints. The cross He died on was cut from the wood of a real tree. Real blood wet real earth beneath His feet. Even after His resurrection, when He finished eating a meal with His followers there were real fishbones left over.
And if this weren’t true — if Jesus’ life, death and resurrection weren’t real events in history, then Christianity would be just like every other religion, only worse: It would be more of a hoax than all the rest.
But here’s what makes all the difference. Just four words: Jesus’ resurrection really happened!