History's Greatest Event -- The Resurrection of Jesus Christ
- Friday, December 01, 2006
We say that some talk about the resurrection principle, spiritualizing it. Isn't that good enough? Well, you can develop a very fine ethic based on the example of a dead martyr, Jesus. But then there's the question of whether that spiritual resurrection of His ideas is worth following. After all, He claimed to be God.
As C.S. Lewis so aptly stated, one of three possibilities then is true. One is that He was a lunatic who thought He was God and wasn't. Who wants to trust the ethics of a lunatic? The second is that He was a charlatan who knew He wasn't God but was out to con people into thinking He was. Who wants to follow the ethics of a charlatan? A third possibility is that Jesus Christ is God, the facts as outlined are true: that He was crucified, dead, buried and that on the third day He rose from the dead. For me to call myself Christian and give my life to a dead lunatic or a dead charlatan is simply not where I am. I would toss out the whole Christian faith, acknowledging that there are some positive ethical teachings. But I wouldn't hang around long enough to take them that seriously. There have been other excellent ethical teachers of various religions who have never made such fantastic claims. I'd rather follow one of them.
Then there are those who say it really did happen. If it did, the whole Christian faith holds together. Sin and death are destroyed. Both life and death begin to make sense. Life makes sense, because I know where I've come from and I know where I'm going. Death makes sense. I no longer have to deny it. I no longer have to kid myself into thinking I am still a teenager. I don't have to try to look young, holding on to every little bit of life I can possibly hold on to, playing it safe. Jesus Christ has destroyed death and the terrible specter of annihilation. Jesus Christ has destroyed my fear of punishment for the things I've done wrong. Jesus Christ is alive. Because He lives, I live both in this life and the life to come.
Sixty-one years ago, a curly headed, five-year-old boy named Johnny Huffman got down on his knees in his parents' bedroom in Arlington, Massachusetts, and received Jesus Christ as his Savior. I didn't know a whole lot about myself at that tender age. I could never have dreamed what would happen in the next sixty-one years. But you know, as a five-year-old, I knew as much as I had to know about the greatest event in human history and my own need of that event. For I knew I had done some things I shouldn't have done, and I had left undone some things I should have done. I knew I had tried to be good but hadn't quite pulled it off. Yet, I wasn't all bad. I knew I needed a Savior. I had heard the terms that there was one. His name was Jesus Christ. God had become man, crucified, buried, risen. Little Johnny Huffman admitted some things he shouldn't have done, some things he should have done and asked the risen Christ to come into his life.
That's right. This was the same Johnny who, twelve, thirteen, fourteen years later, was raising the ultimate questions about the historicity, the deity and the resurrection of this same Jesus Christ. But in the midst of all that questioning, he was praying the prayer, "God, if there is a God, if your name is Jesus Christ, I commit all I know and don't know of myself to all I know and don't know of you, as you are revealed in the Bible.
I've had my moments of doubt and my moments of deep faith. I have my strengths, and I have my weaknesses. I've tried to be a good husband and a good father but haven't always been either. I've tried to have an ethic of social concern that identifies with the poor and the hurting and is willing to give not only of my money, but my time and energy to help bind up the physical, emotional and spiritual wounds of this world. But I haven't always been successful. I've tried. Oh, how I've tried. Sometimes, I've done it right. And sometimes, I've done it wrong. And sometimes, I've come out with this awful "glob" that is a strange mixture of both.
I don't know how many more years I have or you have. But I know one thing for certain. I don't have one single security in this world of my making. Everything I have is based on God who is my Father, who created me; the God who is my Redeemer, who has saved me; the God who is the Holy Spirit, who sustains me.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ equips me both to live and die. Whether you are five, forty-seven, sixty-nine or ninety-seven, I trust that you've received Jesus Christ as your Savior. If you haven't, do it now. If you have, celebrate. For Christ is risen. Christ is risen indeed!
John A. Huffman, Jr. is Senior Pastor of St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach, CA.
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