There is no way to prove that the resurrection really happened. If such a thing occurred in our time, we could send in a crime scene investigation team and they could get to the bottom of it by examining all the evidence scientifically. But instead, all we can do is trust the testimony of a bunch of people we’ve never actually met. They claim that they saw him after he rose from the dead. They talked with him. They ate with him. They touched him. And it was enough for them to leave everything behind to devote the rest of their lives to telling everyone they encountered the good news that Jesus had risen from the dead. That’s all we have to go on. Or is it?
There’s a problem we often encounter in our understanding of the resurrection. We make the resurrection too small by reducing it to a brief moment in time that happened 2,000 years ago. It was an odd little incident in history. But when we limit resurrection to the past, we miss out on something much grander that God is up to in our world.
Or, we may limit our understanding of the resurrection to something that is going to happen for us in the future. It’s something we cling to so that we can face, what for most of us, is our greatest fear-- death. Yeah, I know some people will tell you that no Christian should fear death. But I have trouble accepting that because I’m a Christian, and I’m definitely afraid to die. I don’t know what’s going to happen, and that scares me. I know I’ll be going through it alone, and that scares me. It will mean letting go of everything and everyone I hold near and dear in this life, and that scares me. Well, if you’re like me, and you’re in no hurry to die, the resurrection can bring you some consolation.
But we’re limiting the power of resurrection if we use it as a band-aid for our mortality. For resurrection is not just a topic to speak about at funerals. And it’s not an insurance policy against the loss of life. It’s something much more than that. It’s the presence of new life in the face of death, to be sure. But that’s not just something that happens for us when our bodies give out on us. We face death every day. And we encounter opportunities for resurrection every day.
The fact is, a resurrection that happened 2,000 years ago doesn’t do a lot for us. And a resurrection that will save us sometime in the future after we die, doesn’t much matter today. But what really counts is resurrection right here, right now. We can’t only look back on a resurrection of the past and we can’t only wait for a resurrection in the future because we need resurrection right now.
We need resurrection right now because all around us, in the free-est nation on earth, people are hungry, families are living on the streets, children are denied access to an adequate education, because they are poor.
We need resurrection right now because the highest court in the land is considering whether or not a gay married couple should have the same rights and protections under the law that straight couples take for granted.
We need resurrection right now because the day before yesterday one of the members of our congregation was on lockdown while an unstable man in her neighborhood was shooting and killing people who wanted to cut down some pine trees, and our elected officials seriously can’t decide whether or not it’s advisable to ask for background checks before a person can purchase a gun.
We need resurrection right now because it’s too easy for us to stand in judgment of those who don’t see things our way, and those we perceive to be our enemies, and those we are convinced are evil. We need resurrection right now because judging is the way of death, and loving is the way to life in all its fullness.
We need resurrection right now because we all are prone to hurt the ones we love the most. We need resurrection right now because evil is pervasive in this world and we all participate. We need resurrection right now because it promises us that in the end, all wrongs are made right.
It’s not an idle tale, friends. No, we can’t prove it. But that doesn’t really matter a whole lot. We don’t need to prove the resurrection. What we need is to be the proof of the resurrection, ourselves. We do that by living resurrection lives. By living in a way that bears witness to the fact that hatred always loses and love triumphs. That death always loses and life triumphs.
When death stares you in the face and scares the bejeebers out of you, the risen Christ always shows up. The resurrected Christ makes himself known, not just to us. But the resurrected Christ makes himself known through us.
Look around you and you can see it for yourself. He is risen!