Out of all the worldviews I’ve surveyed, out of all the beliefs and doubts fighting for survival in the Hunger Games of my head, the one story that’s been killed by my skepticism again and again but keeps emerging, confident and resolute, imbuing my mind with such deep explanatory power that it makes the most sense out of the glorious tension of my everyday existence where life and death, love and hate, humility and glory, hope and despair constantly vie for power, is the story of the poor carpenter from Nazareth.
Independent of man’s distortions and the polarizing, dysfunctional, splintered culture it birthed into history, the unadulterated metanarrative flowing through the library of texts that testify to His life, death and resurrection is without equal. The pagan gods of old may have been compelling to their contemporaries, fueled by man’s lust and wild imagination, but their chaotic power is resigned to the dark corridors of history as fiction. Even the biography of Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddha), has been fancified by legend. Jesus’ story is different. Over the centuries, it has undergone intense historical scrutiny and philosophical inquiry (and into present day, continues to be assailed.) In my view, evidence for His life, death and resurrection satisfy. Yes, the debate is robust and no, I can’t prove it empirically…I wasn’t there. But I wasn’t alive during Lincoln’s Presidency either. Yet I’ve trusted (on faith) – my parents, teachers, textbooks, newspapers, photos and of course…Disneyland’s “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln” exhibit on Main Street. But I digress.
If Jesus of Nazareth did, in fact, live, die and rise from the dead, it proves God exists. And if God exists, it proves the One responsible for my existence cared to enter my very real world, to step into my weary shoes, refusing to police me or manage my affairs coldly from afar as a passionless autocrat. It means God isn’t merely aware of my existence…He knows me…He understands me. He’s not looking down at me – He’s with me. His suffering and death assure me I’m not alone in mine. In my confusion from broken relationships. My temptations. My beat down body from work. My grief…
My pain is His pain. My grief is His grief…
Today, the world is celebrating His resurrection. Because, if true, it’s implications are cosmic.
Jesus’ resurrection proves life is stronger than death. Love stronger than hate. Hope stronger than despair. It testifies to the strong fact that life isn’t constrained to the material order and subject to the slow creep of entropy which – without a transcendent, eternal God capable of condescending to His creation and loosening the chains time has forged, it (that is…Death) would be the true Lord of the Universe. It assures me that the lame will walk, the deaf will hear, the blind will see and every tear will be wiped away – and that we can be agents of that happening now. That there is meaning and purpose behind all things; even in our suffering (which God, Himself, did not forsake). That our lives are not isolated parts fated to drive a cold chemical machine into an uncertain future or nebulous amalgamations of energy aiming for escape; no – rather the intentional masterpieces of an Artist, characters imagined to autonomous life by a master Storyteller who proudly bestows His beauty and humbly redeems our horrors, weaving them into a grand tapestry spanning cultures and millennia that is bigger, brighter and more intricate than this Universe replete with black holes, blazing stars and break dancing planets.
In this light, with meekness and demonstrative silence, His resurrection asks all other prophets and philosophers to step quietly off their soapboxes, to get out from behind their lecterns and pulpits, compelling them, not by might but by awe, to fall prostrate before their King.
If this, at the end of the day, is a mere myth cooked up by men, and the only thing waiting for me is my grave – eternal silence – then so be it. It’s a pretty powerful myth…One that fills this naturally skeptical, cynical heart with child-like wonder. One that quells my restless confusion with strength and purpose, encouraging me and my perpetually curious mind teeming with questions to pursue answers. And finally, one that bids me (and not by mere speech or dictum but by example) to Love as He loves – to enter into your world with a compassionate heart, sitting with you in attentive silence in your suffering and to raise a glass (or a mug, a pint, a bottle, a can or whatever) with you in your joys – to lay my broken life down for you in apology, forgiveness and service and to speak truth and life when the darkness creeps in, offering what little strength I have to help you up when you’re down. And to humbly receive the same from you. In this light, I can truly say…
He is Risen.
“As a child I received instruction both in the Bible and in the Talmud. I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene . . . . No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life. Jesus is too colossal for the pen of phrase-mongers, however artful. No man can dispose of Christianity with a bon mot.”
Albert Einstein, The Saturday Evening Post, “What Life Means to Einstein”
“The heart of Christianity is a myth which is also a fact. The old myth of the Dying God, without ceasing to be myth, comes down from the heaven of legend and imagination to the earth of history. It happens — at a particular date, in a particular place, followed by definable historical consequences. We pass from a Balder or an Osiris, dying nobody knows when or where, to a historical Person crucified (it is all in order) under Pontius Pilate. By becoming fact it does not cease to be myth: that is the miracle. I suspect that men have sometimes derived more spiritual sustenance from myths they did not believe than from the religion they professed. To be truly Christian we must both assent to the historical fact and also receive the myth (fact though it has become) with the same imaginative embrace which we accord to all myths. The one is hardly more necessary than the other. A man who disbelieved the Christian story as fact but continually fed on it as myth would, perhaps, be more spiritually alive than one who assented and did not think much about it…”
C. S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics,
Read: Isaiah 53 (700’s BC)
Read: 1 Corinthians 15 (50’s AD)
Wolves at the Gate Official Website