This Easter Sunday, Christians around the world will celebrate the greatest victory imaginable. Death has been defeated! It no longer has dominion over the one who follows Christ. When the tomb was found empty, death lost its sting. Early followers of Jesus scoffed at death, calling it a tyrant who had been overthrown. They knew that the end of their earthly life was a glorious beginning and that the best was yet to come. Can we believe the same? Can Christians today face death with the same boldness, peace and triumph?
In The Vanishing Power of Death, author Erwin Lutzer considers the evidence for the resurrection of Christ and its impact on the disciples. From Mary weeping at the tomb, to Thomas' doubting, to Christ's counseling session with two discouraged disciples on the road to Emmaus, Lutzer shows readers that the experiences of the disciples are poignant and relevant for believers today.
Lutzer is the senior pastor of Moody Church in Chicago, as well as a sought-after speaker at leadership and church conferences. Among his many books are How You Can Be Sure You Will Spend Eternity with God, One Minute After You Die, Seven Snares of the Enemy, and Hitler's Cross. He and his wife, Rebecca, have three adult daughters. Lutzer spoke with Crosswalk at this year’s National Religious Broadcasters convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Crosswalk.com: For those who don’t know, why is the physical resurrection of Christ so important to our faith?
Lutzer: First of all, because the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ proved that He actually cheated death and triumphed over it literally. Secondly, it really does show that Jesus Christ was successful in the work that He did on the cross. But, here’s where you and I come in. The Bible says, “Because He lives, we shall live also.” In fact, it goes on to say that we shall know Him for we shall see Him as He is; we shall be like Him.
Christians sometimes ask, “When we have our physical but glorified bodies in eternity, what will that body be like?” In the book, I have a chapter on that topic. The short answer is that we will have the same kind of body that Jesus had after the resurrection. You remember He could go through doors, could be in Galilee and then suddenly be in Jerusalem. The molecular structure of His body had been changed, and that’s the kind of body we’re going to have. So that’s why Paul would say if Christ be not raised from the dead, then you’re still in your sins.
Crosswalk.com: What compelling historical proof do we have that Jesus has been raised from the dead?
Lutzer: The resurrection of Jesus Christ is well attested. The reason we know that is because the eyewitness accounts in the New Testament have good historical support. So as you compare the documents of the New Testament with other kinds of documents in secular literature, we are in a very privileged position to have documents whose reliability can be checked out historically with archeology and so forth. Also, by the way, Josephus actually quotes and mentions the resurrection of Jesus Christ in his writings. If you add this together, we have good reason to believe that here’s a powerful argument.
In Corinthians 15, the apostle Paul says, “Jesus was raised from the dead and He appeared to 500 brethren, many of whom are still living to this day.” What he meant to say is, “If you don’t believe me, check it out.” Now you can see how hardheaded Paul was, so there’s good reason to believe that He was raised.