Today is Easter. In an era of supposed hope and change, I think Easter offers real hope. Easter was the beginning of God’s re-conquest of a fallen world. As summarized by The Way the Ball Bounces, a number of specific events followed after the first Easter:
Within a few years, one of [Christ’s] chief opponents, Saul of Tarsus, would become his most earnest follower. Within a decade or two, the Lord’s brother James, who did not believe in Jesus during Jesus’ earthly life, would be the leader of the church at Jerusalem. Within four centuries, this faith would conquer the Empire which had crucified its Leader.What turned James from a doubter to a believer in Jesus? What turned the Apostle Paul from a persecutor to a worshipper? What turned the disciples from a disheartened, cowering bunch of defeated and washed-up followers into fearless, empowered witnesses? And what made the apostles willing to a man to suffer death rather than deny Christ?The Resurrection. Count on it.
These days, many people doubt God. These people doubt based on numerous complex reasons that I have little desire to delve into presently. But despite life’s chaos, one thing that always gives me assurance in God’s promise — and hope for the future — is the fact of Jesus’s resurrection. God proved his reliability with one excellent miracle. And I use the word “fact” when referring to the resurrection of Jesus, because, as mentioned, we have numerous credible witnesses to the resurrection. Elevent of the twelve disciples (not to mention the Apostle Paul) accepted execution rather than renounce their eyewitness testimony to the resurrection. In modern America, it’s not altogether uncommon to see innocent people falsely confess under mere psychological duress from the authorities. But by contrast, the disciples held true to their sincere testimony because they had power, and genuine certainty of the hope they had witnessed.
If I had eleven eyewitnesses with such steadfastness, I could surely win any jury trial. But despite the evidence, people still doubt the gospel — generally based on emotions, or because they entertain various evil habits they do not wish to acknowledge as wrong.
Jesus was resurrected before any of us, partly to create an example to inspire us. Only such a miracle could truly demonstrate the reliability of Jesus’s promise, that “Whoever believes in me will live, even though he dies” (John 11:25). Now we have true, reliable reason for hope. Records as early as the Epic of Gilgamesh show that humanity’s deepest longing has been for immortality. This foremost human desire manifests itself in the modern era in (cool) television shows like Highlander and (awesome) movies like Twilight. But the real secret to immortality is far simpler and easier to obtain, if we just accept it. Immortality is not a fantasy. Only believe!
Jesus was the firstfruit of the new glorious world of the future. If we just believe in him, we instantly become his siblings and assure ourselves a place in that world to come. And at that point of belief, we finally gain true insight into the reality of moral events. At that point, we finally gain the potential to bring some of the heavenly glory into our present world of chaos. Many people these days try to reason morally with the faithless. In fact, teaching morals to the faithless does work sometimes — for example, you can show people that various tyrannical schemes will ultimately detract from their own well-being. But ultimately, I think people with real hope stand a better chance of generating a better society. We should all accept the glory of eternal life, and then spread it to others.