Imagine No Resurrection

Mark 12:18-27 (NLT)

Then Jesus was approached by some Sadducees—religious leaders who say there is no resurrection from the dead. They posed this question: “Teacher, Moses gave us a law that if a man dies, leaving a wife without children, his brother should marry the widow and have a child who will carry on the brother’s name. Well, suppose there were seven brothers. The oldest one married and then died without children. So the second brother married the widow, but he also died without children. Then the third brother married her. This continued with all seven of them, and still there were no children. Last of all, the woman also died. So tell us, whose wife will she be in the resurrection? For all seven were married to her.”

Jesus replied, “Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God. For when the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage. In this respect they will be like the angels in heaven.

“But now, as to whether the dead will be raised—haven’t you ever read about this in the writings of Moses, in the story of the burning bush? Long after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died, God said to Moses, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ So he is the God of the living, not the dead. You have made a serious error.”

By Chuck Griffin

In the daily lectionary readings, we last considered in October this exchange between Jesus and the Sadducees, hearing the story in the Gospel of Matthew. In this Easter season, it’s always appropriate to consider the critical importance of Christ’s resurrection, as well as the resurrection we will experience one day.

After all, there are modern-day Sadducees who will tell you there is no such thing as a resurrection, sometimes while standing in a pulpit.

Suppose you were to pick up the newspaper and find this headline: “Christ’s Body Found!” Under this headline is a story saying that Jesus’ body has been located in an ancient tomb. Documents and artifacts nearby prove it is Jesus’ body. The evidence is irrefutable.

What would such facts do to your faith?

A professor at Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky used to ask his students this question. He would get a variety of answers.

Students often said something along these lines: “Jesus was a great teacher. I still would want to devote my life to passing on his teachings about love and forgiveness.”

There was a time when I might have given the same answer. I’m convinced now, however, that such an answer demonstrates a poor understanding of the radical nature of Christianity.

Here’s my response to the hypothetical newspaper story: I would quit the ministry and return to my former career, public relations, where I could make more money and use it to enjoy life before I die. Absent a real resurrection, Christianity loses all its meaning.

If Christ were not resurrected, then he was just another person spouting high-minded words, preaching ideas that got him killed.

If Christ were not resurrected, we have no hope of resurrection, and we should call him crazy. Remember, in the Bible Jesus repeatedly says he is the Son of God and that he has to suffer, die and rise from the dead. If he merely suffered and died, it’s hard to take anything else he said seriously. People who erroneously claim to be God are delusional.

If Christ were not resurrected, then we would be better off spending our energy wielding as much power as possible, taking what we can from this world before the world swallows us. Jesus’ teachings about loving our enemies, caring for the poor, and suffering for the benefit of others simply don’t make sense in a world where God has not demonstrated that sacrificial love overcomes all, even death.

Fortunately Christ is risen—as we say on Easter Sunday, he is risen indeed!

Christ’s resurrection is God’s way of proving that selfless, sacrificial acts generate the greatest power in this world, the infinite kind of power needed to break the deadly grip of sin.

For Christians, the resurrection really is everything.

Lord, help us to preach and teach the concept of the resurrection fully and completely so others may understand the gift we have been granted. Amen.

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