Those statistics provoked some thinking about the 20% who do not celebrate Easter. The obvious conclusion is that they don’t celebrate it because they don’t believe in the resurrection of Jesus. They go through life thinking that Jesus rising from the dead was a myth or a legend that has no foundation in fact. This sparked the question for me, what if they are right? What if there was no resurrection?
There are more historical questions, but let’s set that aside for the moment. Think of the impact on history had Jesus not risen from the dead. There would be no gospel, no church, no New Testament. What effect would that have had on the world? Perhaps someone has an answer for that question, but I don’t. The impact would have been massive indeed, for Christianity is the cornerstone of western civilization. Consider for instance the simple statement that all men are created equal, a concept absolutely foundational to America. Without the resurrection of Jesus Christ ultimately that is not a truth that is “self-evident.” People aren’t equal. Some are far stronger, smarter, and better looking than others. That equality only exists if God created every one of us in his image. Our equality is not found in our ability, talents or character, but in our value before God. We are equally valuable because Jesus died for each and every one of us.
The idea that every life has value really stems from the Christian faith. What sort of society would we have if we did not hold firmly to the ideas that every life is valuable and all people are created equal before God? For certain it would be one where life is cheap and justice is hard to find. It would be a society in which the driving principle would be survival of the fittest. The strong would prey on the weak. It would likely be a brutal society.
If Jesus did not rise from the dead the individual implications are even more profound. We would have no certainty about whether God exists, and almost zero knowledge of what he is like even if we conclude he does exist. We all deal with guilt because all of us fail to live up to our own standards of who we ought to be. There would be no relief of that guilt, for there is no forgiveness through Jesus Christ. We would have guilt dogging our every step through this world. Of course we also would have no hope in the face of death. Certainly many of us have a sense that this world is not the end, but there is no real evidence assuring us of life after death. The farther we go in life the more ominous would be the specter of death, for it would be the end of all things for us.
Suffice it to say I am more thankful than I can ever say that Jesus did rise from the dead. That is not wishful thinking. It is a conviction based on powerful evidence for the historical reality of the event. Jesus did rise from the dead, and as a result I know that there is hope, forgiveness and justice to be found through our Lord. His resurrection touches every aspect of life. It makes life immeasurably more joyful and hopeful. Without the truth of the resurrection life would become nearly unbearable. But he is risen. He is risen indeed!