Genuine sceptic or refusing to believe? (Easter Sunday; John 20:24-29)
A living hope (Luke 23:50-24:12) (Resurrection Sunday)
Our great enemy defeated
‘The last enemy to be destroyed is death’ (1 Cor 15:26).
Our culture has a very confused understanding of death. Ask if they’re afraid of death, and some will say they are not. Is this true? This week there was panic in Times Square after a motorbike backfired. Everyone was on edge with the recent shootings, and they were scared to die.
Our culture, without even realising it, fears death. It has been hidden away. While once the body was in the home, now it is removed to the funeral directors. Once it was normal for a casket to be open for people to see the body, but now some provide warnings on the rare occasion an open casket is requested.
And yet, despite this fear, it is a culture of death. Death, and the ability to legally kill, is celebrated. We’ve just seen a bill to decriminalise abortion pass the NSW lower house. We’ve also seen the first person to be legally killed on request in Victoria. Death was seen as better than pain.
Tragically, they have forget that death is an enemy; our great enemy, dragging guilty sinners before the courtroom of God’s justice. There is no escape in death, and we shouldn’t be eager to kill our most vulnerable – the youngest of children and the terminally ill.
But for those in Christ, it’s an entirely different matter! While we should not hasten our death, we can rest assured that death has been dealt a death blow by his resurrection, And that victory will be completed by his return. We can remember that death ‘is far better’ (Phil 1:23), because it brings us to Jesus’ side.
What a joy to be found in Christ and be able to rejoice that the great enemy is and will be defeated.
How could you destroy Christianity? Many have tried through force. From the earliest years of the church, people have been trying to tear it down. The religious leaders in Jerusalem did their best (Acts 5:40), as did Saul (Acts 9:1-2). Ancient Rome tried. Today, Christian leaders and lay people are regularly discriminated against, beaten, murdered, and more. Yet the church continues.
Others have tried to destroy it from within by bringing in practices that go against the Bible, or bringing in teaching to undermine the core message. In the earliest days there was a move to divide Christians by race (Gal 2:11-14). There was also a move to not recognise that Jesus not only God, but also a man (1 John 4:1-3). Today, there are many practices and beliefs within what are called churches which are not biblical and lead people down the garden path. Yet the church continues.
There is only one sure-fire way to destroy Christianity: show that Jesus didn’t rise. Paul is adamant that if you do that, then Christians have nothing to hold on to.
‘If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain .. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins … If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied’ (1 Cor 15:14, 17, 19).
Only Christianity, of all the religions, has an historical event upon which it hangs its hat. You can’t disprove that someone had a vision in a cave (Islam) or a realisation under a tree (Buddhism). But Christianity is founded on an empty tomb. This means his death worked as a sacrifice. Have you found forgiveness in the risen Lord?
He ate fish
Sometimes it’s the small details that make all the difference. It’s the salt that transforms a bland meal into a delicious one. In the Easter story, one of those small details is in Luke 24:42-43, “They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them.”
We might be tempted to reject the Easter story. “It must have been made up.” “It’s impossible to come back to life after being dead for that long.” “Maybe it’s just metaphorical, and Jesus was just alive in their hearts.”
But this one small event forces us to take a second look. He ate some fish. Days after he’d been declared dead he was eating fish. A ghost doesn’t eat, someone who’s “alive in our hearts” doesn’t eat. It’s an odd detail to include if you were just making the story up.
After his death, Jesus ate fish. That small detail changes everything. If it’s true, it means all Jesus said about himself was true. He really did come back from the dead, which is what he said he’d do. Which means his death did what he said it would do – bring forgiveness for all who’d trust him.
Make this Easter the time you actually think about Jesus’ claims. If this small detail is true, it changes everything – and it should change your life. It would mean his death was no ordinary death. It would mean there really is a God that you and I are accountable to, whose judgement we’ll one day face. But it would also mean this God has offered a way to escape that judgement.
That’s a lot riding on that one small detail. Why not give the Easter story another look? We’d love to help you do that.