“Indeed, taking all the evidence together, it is not too much to say that there is no single historic incident better or more variously supported than the Resurrection of Christ. Nothing but the antecedent assumption that it must be false could have suggested the idea of deficiency in the proof of it.” ― Brooke Foss Westcott
Assuming Brooke Westcott is correct (and he has a very large group of historians and scholars in his camp on this), what difference does the resurrection of Jesus from the dead make for us?
It makes a big difference. As stated in the last post, if the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead really happened, it changes everything. There is a God, and we now know this about Him: “He is intimately concerned with people. He has power over death, and has love sufficient to ransom all from a hopeless and helpless situation in which all are separated from Him but He is doing amazing things to end that separation. The Gospel message is, well, the truth.” Truth. True for all of us, not just for those who like the idea.
Part of the impact of this truth on us is that we need to respond to it, positively or negatively. There is no room for neutrality on a message like this one. It demands a response. Josh McDowell said it this way: “I am not a Christian because God changed my life; I am a Christian because of my convictions about who Jesus Christ is.”
Because Jesus rose from the dead, we now know that God has a purpose for our living, and that purpose is driven by love, mercy, and grace. This is not the way God has often been described, for many feel He is angry, or at least ticked off at people. Looking at the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus shatters that idea, for there is nothing in this story if not love, mercy, and grace.
Because Jesus rose from the dead, we now know that God has power over our ultimate enemy, death. If He has power over death, and is offering to use that power for our benefit, that is truly good news for us. What is not to like about a God who responds to us in love, mercy, and grace, and who uses His great power to benefit His created ones?
Because Jesus rose from the dead, we now see the character of God. We see power restrained by love and mercy. We see a grace and patience that tempers perfect justice. We see hope being offered to hopeless humans. We see a God whose nature seems to be focused on giving life to people, not taking it away. We see a perfect God who forgives imperfect people, even when they turn away from Him.
Because Jesus rose from the dead, we can see what God has been up to all along. He desires to return people to a deep friendship and love relationship with Himself. He desires to have all who will follow Him experience the joy, peace, power, and purpose of His presence. He desires to give us life. Life to the fullest, the life lived in heaven. Eternal life. Life with Himself.
“Jesus’s resurrection is the beginning of God’s new project not to snatch people away from earth to heaven but to colonize earth with the life of heaven. That, after all, is what the Lord’s Prayer is about.” ― N.T. Wright
The raising of Christ Jesus from the dead is the capstone on the life of God lived through Jesus on earth. A life of self-sacrifice on behalf of us all, including the ultimate sacrifice to bring us back to friendship with God. A life of endless and infallible love. “Greater love has no one than this, that a man would lay down his life for his friends.” Especially those not yet agreeing to the friendship.