'And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.' 1 Corinthians 15:14-18
Easter was a good time for me. It was nice and quiet, relaxing with family and friends and enjoying the sunshine.
Over the time of Easter I have heard loads of different things being said about Jesus and the significance of Easter.
I have heard people speak passionately about Jesus' death and resurrection and how world changing an event it really was.
I have heard people speak about it in very 'spiritual' ways, sharing how they do not believe in the reality of the Easter story, but view it in terms of a parable or message that says we can have hope for tomorrow.
I have heard some share how while they believe in the person of Jesus they do not believe he died, but rather that he grew to be an old man.
Others say he never died and went up to heaven.
I have heard some say they do not believe in any of it at all and that it is one big story, made up and of no use to us in the 21st Century.
As I have reflected on all of this, I was struck by the passage in the Bible that I have quoted at the top.
If Jesus did not die and if Jesus was not raised from the dead, then we are to be pitied more than anyone.
If Jesus was not raised form the dead, then I might as well stop everything that I am doing, because it would all be one big con, and what I believe is one big joke.
If Jesus was not resurrected then out of all people Christians are to be most miserable. Our faith is worthless. Everything we believe is a waste of time and all that we are doing is a waste of time.
If Jesus was not raised from the dead that all that we say about God is a lie.
It's not that Christians believe that Jesus was some kind of ghost or spirit when he came back to life. We don't believe he was resuscitated like someone who's dead but then who's heart starts beating again. We don't believe that he left his old body in the grave and was given a new and separate one. No, the resurrection of Jesus is the belief that he died on the cross, was buried in the grave, but then was raised from the dead, his body TRANSFORMED into one that will never die or wear out. It was like this body, yet somehow different. He sat with his disciples after his resurrection and ate with them. He still bore the wounds of the crucifixion and continues to bare them in all eternity, but he is transformed.
It is the belief that Jesus is alive, and because he lives we will live and be transformed, our bodies becoming something better, becoming something they have never been, everything about us, mind, body, soul, spirit being transformed and perfected. Because Jesus lives, creation will one day become something it has never been; creation will one day be healed. It is the belief that sin and its destruction, sin and its destruction of our relationship with God, sin and its bringing of death has all been dealt with by Jesus through his death and resurrection.
But if Jesus is not alive then we are screwed.
If Jesus is not alive then faith is a waste of time.
And my identity, who I am and the very essence of why I live is all nonsense and pointless if Jesus is not alive.
Quite a sobering thought...