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Friday, April 17, 2020. Let us touch one of the main and critical points of Christianity. What do we think about the resurrection? What happened? Do we have a clear opinion on the events around the death of Jesus 2000 years ago? Do we have a concept for our world view, which would consistently combine our ethical values, our knowledge about this world and our understanding of its history and future?
The Christian message is touching the very core of our existence. It is touching the very core of the world as it is, its laws, its rules, its possibilities and framework. You cannot deal with the Christian message without changing your idea of reality, without adapting it to what you realize to be real!
Let us look into the resurrection experiences of people, as told in the gospel of Matthew, the first book of the New Testament. The women who have been with him find the empty grave:
5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” 8 So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. (Matthew 28, 5ff)
This is not “usual” reality. It is a strange reality. First of all, an angel talks to the women. He seems to know what happened, seems to be the master of the situation. The women believe this figure, and go to tell the other disciples.
What happened? …
What can we say what happend with and around the resurrection. People have said we find myths here, stories communicated for many decades or even centuries before they have been written up. This opinion is definitely wrong, since we can trace back the gospel stories to the first century. Their reception story together with many arguments about their style and content shows that they must have been written in the time latest 50-90 AD, with Matthew between 50-70 AD. With the death of Jesus about 30 AD, the gospels report what people thought, who have been in close contacts to the disciples.
But what had happened? The body of Jesus was gone, so is the story. Today, many theological schools and scholars believe that the body has been in the grave. They believe the story of the empty tomb to be 'not true'. Of course we can ask what is generating this opinion, what is causing us to believe what we believe. Everyone should think about this, believers in Christ as well as those who do not believe in him and think the gospels to be a collection of wishful thinking.
An importan point seems to be: if God resurrected Jesus from the dead in a special way, we should expect very strange things to happen. Of course, this does not prove any strange report you hear. There should be more in it to come to faith.
But the reports about the resurrection have their own logic. They are quite consistent with the whole story about salvation, about the character of God, about the events and experiences which Christians can make since then with the holy spirit.
Let me note for today: I believe the stories. I believe that the grave has been empty. I believe that Jesus was raised from the dead. The resurrection was not just re-establishing something which was before. It was creating something new. This is reflected in the events after the resurrection. God is communicating, in a quite efficient way. He is communicating by experiences of historical people. His disciples talk to him, meet him and saw him depart, sending the spirit at pentacost.
We will go into deeper and further discussion on the resurrection soon … (Roland Potthast)