“I’ve been beaten by better than you!” Have you ever heard anyone say that? I’ve heard it a lot over the years, and I’ve got to say I’ve never understood it. Why would you say that? In essence, what you’re saying is, “You’re not as good as the last guy who beat me, so it won’t be a big deal when you beat me too.”
First of all, I’m not sure I’d be all that eager to admit I could be beaten by anyone. Secondly, I’m not interested in giving my adversary any extra incentive to kick my butt. We say some really, stupid things sometimes.
I, for example, have often said, “I could care.” I’ve used this phrase all my life. When I say it, I really mean, “I don’t care.” I don’t use that terminology, however, because it sounds harsh, and, in fact, it’s not sarcastic enough to suit me. “I could care” just sounds right—even though it doesn’t literally say what I mean.
The Apostle Paul ran into this sort of thing on Mars Hill in Athens, Greece. Some philosophers had gathered there to hear Paul speak about the Resurrection. After hearing what he had to say, they considered it to be total nonsense and babble. Scripture tells us that “some of them sneered” at him. However, others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” I’m told that this was a culturally polite way of saying, “Get lost.” So, that’s exactly what Paul did. He parted company with them.
I don’t suppose you can really blame anyone for not believing in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. How many people have seen a dead person come to life again? We should be able to understand their skepticism.
As Christians, we celebrate the Resurrection every Sunday (which is Resurrection Day). We get particularly excited about it on the day we refer to as Easter Sunday. (The name, Easter, is somewhat of a misnomer, but we’ll save that discussion for another day.) The day that Jesus arose from the grave is the day the world changed forever.
Regardless of when it’s commemorated or what we call it, it’s certainly something worth celebrating. People don’t simply rise from the dead with regularity—especially ones who have been in the tomb for a day or three. That’s one of the reasons we Christians make it a point to gather together to vocally proclaim the Resurrection. We have the need to remind ourselves of the miraculous nature of the Savior and his wondrous works. If he’s going to take the sin of the world upon himself, rising from the dead is what really seals the deal. Without it, we just have another burial place to visit—another gravesite to care for. Plus, we’d have no proof that Christ’s sacrifice is viable.
The empty tomb provides evidence that Jesus’ claims are true. There is no one behind the tombstone marked “Jesus of Nazareth.” He is risen! He is risen, indeed!
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently pastor of Smith Chapel in Great Falls, VA.]