2,000 years after the earthly life of Jesus an amazing message still reverberates around the world. It is a message that has been repeated by millions every Easter and by Christians on a daily basis. To the words “Christ has risen” being uttered comes the response “He is risen indeed”. This is either the most glorious truth in history or it is the very worst of all lies and deceptions. There is no half-way house, no room for a compromise. In many areas of human history there are grey areas, areas of doubt and uncertainty over the facts of events. Even in science there is often dispute about the facts of our observable world. However, with the resurrection of Jesus as presented in the Bible there is no grey area. The matter is binary, yes or no, life or death. Either Jesus is alive or He is not. Whichever is true remains the truth whatever an individual may say they believe. If it is true that Jesus is alive, it is a fact, and no amount of denial can change facts.
Of course there are human attempts at compromise. Some claim to be Christians who say that Jesus merely lives on in some sort of mystical way in the hearts and lives of His followers. This would make Him no different from any other figure in history and the way that they continue to impact thoughts and lives after their deaths. No, with Jesus, as always, it is everything or nothing. If Jesus is to match up to His claims, He must be alive in the very fullest and most complete meaning of the term. It must be the most real, the most dynamic, the highest in being, the fullest in doing, the last word in communication, the most passionate, the most intimate, the most far reaching and all-embracing expression of life that can possibly be both in God and man. Anything less is failure for the Christian message and failure for the person of Christ.
The historical record is that over 500 eyewitnesses saw Jesus alive. They saw Him, heard Him, ate with Him, walked with Him and learned from Him after His resurrection. Much of the New Testament was completed and already being widely circulated while many eyewitnesses were still alive and could still be consulted. The testimony of millions over the past 2,000 years is that Jesus changes lives. He transforms lives for the better. The descriptions in the New Testament still hold true – the change Jesus brings, as He Himself taught, is a change dramatic enough to fully warrant the title of being “born again”. It is seen as something greater than sight being given to the blind, it is likened to being brought from utter darkness into overwhelming light, and described as a human being in normal healthy physical existence being brought from death to life.
Jesus is the source of that life which has been experienced by millions. As God He is the source of all life – without Him nothing was made that was made, as John records in the opening verses of His Gospel. Jesus is the only person every to live a human life on this earth as God intended a full and complete human life to be. A life of truth and goodness and excellence in every possible way. Jesus alone lived such a life, where the millions and billions of the rest of us have failed in all sorts of miserable ways.
The marvel is that Jesus gave up His precious holy life for us, the ones who had failed and rebelled against a good and holy God. Only sinners are supposed to die, and the universality of death among human beings only emphasises the fact of universal sin. Jesus lived the one and only human life in history that should never have been touched by death. However, He willingly gave up that life so that He could offer the whole world forgiveness and new life.
Even before He died, Jesus had said “I AM the resurrection and the life”. In Revelation, John encounters the risen Jesus who says “I AM He who lives, and was dead, and behold I AM alive for evermore”. In another place in Revelation Jesus says “I AM the Beginning and the End”. Here He claims to be the very essence of all life. He is everything that God is and He is the one who gives life to everything God decides to create that has life. The “I AM” statements of John in his Gospel and in Revelation are vitally important in the identity of who Jesus is. He said “Before Abraham was, I AM” identifying Himself with God’s name of Jehovah as revealed to Moses in the Old Testament. “I AM”, if true, is as real today as it was 2,000 or 3,000 years ago, and cannot mean anything less than an ever present all-encompassing statement of being. This is the true nature and the true scale of the message of the Bible concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. It is either all true, or else it all crumbles away to nothing if any failure whatever is found. It is all or nothing.
The message is that this living Jesus who now combines complete humanness with His complete deity in the power of an endless life at the very heart of the glory of heaven now shares that life with people individually in a relationship entered into one at a time in our lives. The invitation is open to all who are weary to come to Him. We just need to recognise our need for salvation and accept that He is still today able and willing to live up to His name – Jesus, Saviour.