“There are no dead ends for God!” Concerning the resurrection of Jesus …
Christians believe in the resurrection of Jesus. Really? More and more doubt is being cast on this core statement of the gospel. Some think it nothing more than a nice story, others consider it to be symbolic. But for believing Christians, it is more than that.
“Even though the resurrection of Jesus Christ is impossible to grasp with the intellect, a closer inspection will show that it has many different implications,” stated Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider in his Easter message in Lindau, Germany. He based his sermon on an old passage from Apostle Paul: “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15: 20). “The Apostle used these words to relive the joy of the disciples. How joyful the disciples of the time were when they heard that their Lord was alive! While they had difficulty believing the news at first, their grief disappeared in a moment: Jesus, their friend, was once again in their ranks!”
Resurrected – with all the related implications
And very gradually, they began to comprehend what this meant:
- good had triumphed over evil.
- the resurrection attested to the omnipotence of God—for God there are no “dead ends”!
- Jesus’ resurrection confirmed that He was indeed the Son of God—that God Himself had come down to mankind. It was exactly as Jesus had told them beforehand.
- the resurrection became a source of hope—Jesus Christ had the power to keep His promises!
“This should also serve for the joy of Christians today,” continued the Chief Apostle. “Jesus Christ lives! He is right here in our midst! God is a God of nearness, of love, and of grace! He is the God of the sinner, the God of the poor, and the God of the stranger. He makes no distinctions. He loves all people! That is our faith!”
Christ gives life
“Apostle Paul went a step further when he wrote that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is also associated with the resurrection of the dead. This statement still applies today,” said the Chief Apostle. “Because Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, anyone who believes in Him can also resurrect and live through Jesus Christ. Anyone who believes in Jesus Christ and is baptised—and follows Him—will be resurrected and enter into divine life. Those who believe in Jesus Christ are no longer dead!”
Christ gives hope
Our hope in the resurrection is not only limited to our life here, however. Paul says, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.” Why? “Because we remain sinful human beings and fall into temptation again and again,” the Chief Apostle explained. “We are doomed to fail again and again,” he continued. “However, the message of Jesus is clear: He told His disciples that He would come again and take them to Himself. In other words, those who belong to Him will be with Him where He is, and they will see His glory—no matter whether they are alive or whether they have already died. It is not only about life on this earth! Rather, the goal is to go with Jesus into His kingdom and to be together with Him there for all eternity. This is why the resurrection is required.”
The resurrection is a real event!
“For Paul, the resurrection of the Lord is a real event. At the time, he had to fight for this because not everyone in Corinth believed in the resurrection of the dead,” emphasised the Chief Apostle. “And at the same time, the question arises as to how the Christian congregations of today see this event.” His observation: although belief in the resurrection of the dead is an important element of Christian faith and a firm component of the creeds of many Christian denominations, it is no longer truly shared by all Christians:
- some of them merely see the resurrection of the dead in symbolic terms. They believe it is impossible for the dead to actually resurrect.
- others no longer speak of it because it has still not yet occurred.
- still others reject it because it implies a judgement by God. They do not accept the idea that the God of love could make a distinction among mankind and cause only some of them to resurrect.
We believe …
The Apostles of today proclaim the same message as Paul proclaimed: “We believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ in very real terms! We cannot explain it, but we believe it!” And finally, said the Chief Apostle, “we already experience today that Jesus Christ lives. He is right in our midst! This is something we feel in our souls. We have already experienced this many times in our lives. And we believe in the return of Jesus Christ in exactly the same manner! This is not merely an image!” His conclusions in the divine service:
- we believe in the resurrection of Jesus.
- we believe in His doctrine and align our lives with it.
- we believe in the first resurrection and prepare ourselves for this event.
- we believe in the Last Judgement and desire to help our neighbour find salvation.
To pass this along to others is the task of every believing Christian today!