Have we been duped?
Or to put it another way, what if you woke up one day and discovered that everything you believed was a lie? Not your typical Easter message, but this was the way our pastor began his Easter talk. "If there was no resurrection," he said, "we're believing a hoax. And we're misrepresenting God." The Christian faith hangs everything on the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. If Jesus did not rise, according to 1 Corinthians 15:12-20, then our faith is in vain - it's empty, worthless. Our message has no credibility. We are not forgiven anything - every sin we have ever committed is still tacked to our account. We have no hope of a future with Jesus in His home in heaven. And lastly, we are a people to be pitied - felt sorry for - because really, why would we live as we do if we have no future, no hope, and our words hold no value? No one could or should possibly take us seriously. Why should we believe something if it isn't true?
This brings me to another question. Jesus claimed to be God's Son -- equal with God -- which is why He couldn't stay dead (thus the resurrection). His ability to heal, give sight to the blind, raise the dead, calm raging waters, free those possessed by demons, turn water into wine, etc., etc., proved that He was no ordinary man. (I daresay we still can't duplicate His miracles in 2000 years of technological advances.)
So if Jesus claimed to be God (the reason why they killed Him), why do so many today still want to think He was just a good moral teacher?
C. S. Lewis once said of Him, "“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
And because He did not intend to leave us that option, then what did He leave us? He left us with two options. Repent and believe in Him or remain in our sins and perish. (He didn't mince words.) Nor did Joshua of old when told the people of the Old Testament, "Choose this day whom you will serve. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
Understanding that Jesus is God and believing that He rose from the dead are absolutely essential truths for anyone who would call himself a Christian. They are also essential for any type of everlasting hope. If this is the only life we will ever know, what room is there for hope? Hope in what? If I live another thirty years and die, what good was my life if it ends there? Perhaps we could come up with some altruistic reasons for living, to make the world better for future generations, but is that really enough?
If there is no resurrection, then Jesus lived and died for nothing. If He was just a good moral teacher, and not God incarnate, He can offer us no hope. He could not have accomplished the things He promised, and we have nothing to look forward to. Pretty bleak scenario, in my opinion.
But...eyewitness accounts saw the risen Christ. And in 2000 years, no one has ever been able to find his dead body to prove those witnesses wrong. Forty authors over a 1500 year period recorded prophecy after prophecy that Jesus fulfilled in His earthly life, which has never been done by any other man or woman in any other religion throughout history.
So have we been duped? Some may think so. But to those who know Him in an experiential way know differently. Because once He has transformed your thinking and changed your heart, you realize that the healing miracles are nothing compared to the miracle He can do for the hurting human soul.
I believe Jesus is exactly who He claimed to be. I believe He rose from the dead on the third day after He was crucified. And I believe He keeps His promises. What those 40 authors wrote of Him that He didn't fulfill then, He will return again to complete. And every eye will see Him.
And that is no lie.