By Elder John Robert Lee
“I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.” – Acts 24:15, 16
Because Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, defeating death and the grave, nothing can ever be the same, for anyone.
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the outstanding event of human history. His birth as Incarnate God and His death as perfect atoning sacrifice for His people are completed in His authenticated, bodily rising from the tomb. If one accepts that He is alive today, our invisible Companion along the corridor of history, then one willingly accepts the full Biblical revelation concerning Him. One bows before Him who is Almighty God, the only Saviour and Judge of all humanity.
When the Resurrection is denied, or ignored, everything else is implicitly rejected. Paul emphasized, “And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain,” (1 Corinthians 15:14). The Christian faith rests on the Deity of Jesus Christ and His Resurrection. All the ensuing theology proceeds from those revelations.
Miracles were always sign of Divine involvement in human history and the Resurrection of Jesus is the greatest miraculous manifestation of all. By it, He is “declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead,” (Romans 1:4). All those philosophers who mock and announce proudly a dead and silent God, and describe the universe as meaningless, materially evolutionary, will be proved wrong, ultimately. They attack the fundamental authority of the Biblical writings and their clear, inescapable witness: “Him God raised up the third day and showed Him openly; not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with Him, after He rose from the dead.” (Acts 10: 40, 41). This is not imaginative fiction. For their testimony of that real fellowship with the Risen Christ, the apostles were killed, as were disciples who believed their spoken and written proclamations. For faith in such unwavering witness, many continue to die in this Christian era. For faith in the Resurrection and its tremendous, life changing challenges, many today experience rejection and ridicule.
Even at that moment of unique historical revelation, Jesus Himself underlines the startling meaning of His Resurrection for each human being. The Bible reports that during His meetings with His disciples after rising from the tomb, “He commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is He which was ordained of God to be the Judge of the living and the dead,” (Acts 10:42). Jesus the promised Messiah reveals Himself as the Point toward which all human history is irrevocably moving. To Him has been given by the Father “all authority in heaven and on earth,” (Matthew 28:18). To suddenly see the shaking implications of these words is to experience the blinding flash of realization, of epiphany, that converts us from sinners to saints. This is the foundational reality of the Biblical Christian faith. No other religious teacher making stupendous claims for himself or herself has presented us with their own resurrection.
The world’s philosophies, value systems, life-styles, materialisms and consumerisms, various idolatries, power structures of politics and economics, go directly against the proof and meaning of the Resurrection and Divine Authority of Jesus Christ. The morality and way of life that are demanded by this historical event at the turning point of world history go against the situational ethics (‘do your own thing’, ‘wha’ wrong wid dat?’) and the unstable, questionable values of world systems. The challenge of the Biblical message is still “choose this day whom you will serve”. The exhortation continues to be an immediate, direct one to the Saint Lucia of today. A Saint Lucia, like the rest of the Western world, which has gone further and further away from the essentials of the Biblical Christian faith. Much religiosity exists, much manipulation by politicians and religious charlatans, much fascination with superstitions ancient and modern. And that in a world whose vulnerabilities have been exposed by the current pandemic. A world besieged by rising crime, and ever more deceptive and ruthless, self-serving partisan politics fueled by fake news and growing tendencies to autocratic tyranny.
The good news, the gospel, is still, “that if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved,” (Romans 10:9). Despite the increasingly obvious anti-Christian nature of our world and home society, the proof of the truth of Christianity’s propositions is that “this is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcomes the world, but he that believes that Jesus is the Son of God,” (1 John 5:4, 5).
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the “living hope” all believers have of our own resurrection. Of an eternal life in a better future promised by God who does not lie or deceive. A new heaven and a new earth where righteousness dwells, are promised. Many mock this as pie in the sky. But, by His Resurrection, we are sure and proclaim that Jesus Christ is the only Lord of lords and King of kings, over all presidents, prime ministers, generalissimos, aspiring tin-pot dictators. He is the eternal God Himself, entering humanity as a Man through His virgin birth. Incredible but true. Amazing grace. Every Easter, resurrection celebrations remind us that we ought to prepare ourselves, “for the Son of Man (Christ) is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matthew 24:44). Crime, pestilence, accidents can also usher us, unexpectedly, suddenly, into eternity and God’s judgement. The Church on earth, and in Saint Lucia, faithful and true, Biblically anchored, is everywhere waiting for the Second Coming of its Resurrected Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. “Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus.” Amen.
John Robert Lee is a Saint Lucian writer. He is an Elder with Calvary Baptist Church.