Dan Popp
The Resurrection -- God up in our grille
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By Dan Popp
April 4, 2015

Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead. – Paul (Acts 17:30, 31, NKJV)

Christians think of our annual celebration of the Resurrection of Christ as a joyous time – a time to remember the victory He won over death, and a time to look forward to sharing that victory with Him, and with all who believe in Him.

But that isn't the only aspect of this, the greatest miracle. Jesus' exit from the tomb (a grave He borrowed from a rich man for the weekend) is also an affront to humanity. It is simultaneously a pledge that inspires hope, and the direst possible warning.

Please take another look at the short passage I've cited above. Looking from the end of the long sentence backward, we see that the Resurrection is assurance – think "downpayment," "earnest money," "show of good faith" – that comes to all. When the stone was rolled away, the pagan Roman soldiers saw it first. Easter isn't just for Christians. God has something to say to all mankind with this divine invasion of our personal space.

Continuing up the sentence we learn that Jesus is the Man whom God has ordained. Muhammad is not the man, Buddha is not the man, your pastor is not the man – Jesus is the Man. The last Adam. God's Final Word.

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things... (Hebrews 1:1, 2a)

There won't be another warning. There won't be another capital-P Prophet, no more Scripture. God has said all He has to say in Christ. The next time we hear from Him, it will be too late to get with the program.

Back to Paul's sermon in Acts: The meat of his statement is this: God has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness. All this Bible stuff is not a joke, nor a myth, or a fairy tale. The Resurrection proves to you, whoever you are, that this is as real as it can be. You will be judged, and it will not be "on the curve," it will be according to the perfect standard of righteousness.

Because of this, God commands all men everywhere to repent. Not just Christians or Jews but Atheists and Hindus and Animists, too. All people. Everywhere. And we know this, Paul says, because of the Resurrection.

Have you ever heard anyone say, maybe by way of accusation, "Why doesn't God just come down and show Himself?" Well, He did that at Sinai. Even covered in dark clouds His presence was so frightening that the people pleaded to be excused. (Read Exodus, Chapters 19 and 20.) Others have even more ignorantly sung, "What if God was [sic] one of us...Just a slob like one of us...Just a stranger on the bus...." God did become one of us – so ordinary that people had a hard time picking Him out of a crowd. God did it. Man in his perverse rebellion made an impossible demand – that the Maker present Himself for questioning by His handiwork, that the Author come onto the stage and answer to His actors – and God complied.

The Resurrection of Jesus says to humanity, "You can't ignore Me any longer. I have met your challenge and now I challenge you: Trust the Man I have chosen and raised from the dead. Join the side of rightness now, or you'll one day find yourself unable to separate yourself from your sin, and it will burn you like fire forever."

Yes, I just put words in God's mouth. Sorry. I'm trying to illustrate something that's hard to explicate – this demand that the Resurrection puts on human beings. This is not just about lilies and that super high note on the hymn that we sing only on Easter Sunday and about good feelings and family and new clothes and Spring. It's God poking His finger in our chest and saying, "OK, big man, what are you going to do about My Son?" God is all up in our grille.

For 2,000 years people have tried to come up with an alternative explanation for the Resurrection: Jesus didn't really die, He died but the disciples stole the body, the whole thing was just a tall tale. But they cannot escape the fact that the eyewitnesses allowed themselves to be tortured to death rather than recant their "tall tale." Don't imagine that the Apostles were like clerics in some quarters today, with wealth and comfort and public admiration for their divine office. The early leaders of the Christian church had the opposite of that. There was no earthly reason to lie, and of course there was no heavenly reason to lie.

Some even more dishonest people say that, well, the disciples were OK, but people came along later and distorted their message. In two millennia they haven't been able to produce one shred of evidence, while evidence for the first-century authorship of the gospels has grown.

As difficult as it might be to believe, the only workable explanation for the Resurrection accounts, and for the lives and deaths of the men who gave them, is that they're true.

And so God points to the Resurrection and says to every man and woman walking the earth, "Now you know. No more excuses. You've put me on trial, but soon I will put you on trial." Only the righteous will be acquitted at that trial, and there are none righteous. Thankfully, He gives that righteousness as a gift to those who trust His Son.

He is risen. He is risen indeed.

© Dan Popp

 

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