What If?

1 Corinthians 15:20

What if His practiced and ruthless executioners were deceived? What if He never really died after the tortuous hours endured in measureless agony on the cross? What if Jesus had planned all along to dupe His loyal disciples into believing Him to be the victor over death, finally fleeing away to somewhere in the Himalayas to live out His days in obscurity? The grave clothes discovered by Peter as if His body had simply evaporated? That memorable early morning encounter with Peter and his friends on the shores of Galilee; and even Thomas’ confession wrenched from his cynical soul: “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). What if it were all a dream?

The resurrection was the consistent testimony of the Gospels, the defining affirmation of the apostles and the early Church. This was the central theme—an inescapable, incontrovertible, indispensable fact: Christ is risen from the dead. To this they bore their testimony with their blood!

Doubt it if you will. The consequence is a gutted gospel, powerless to offer the peace of God or the possibility of transformed lives. And a never-ending stream of witnesses will rise up joyfully and irrepressibly to declare with the Apostle Paul: “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead!” (I Corinthians 15:20).

We heard the thousands of believers crowded into a Beijing church on an Easter morning sing it: “I know that He is living whatever men may say. He lives, Christ Jesus lives today. You ask me how I know He lives; He lives within my heart!” Fifty years of determined denial had not quenched the fire of their faith.

Because Christ is now risen from the dead, we live in the “now” of God’s salvation—the day of His grace and favor (2 Corinthians 6:1-2). His presence can be real to us. His power can be released within us, by faith.

So many of us are boxed in by circumstances. We are paralyzed by the impossibility of our situation. We have long since exhausted our options. We are in the grip of a “fatal attraction.” Addictive behaviors are sapping our strength and destroying our will to freedom. Why dream any longer of what cannot be? There is no way out. No hope.

But now hope lives again in Jesus. Christ is now risen from the dead! The power that burst the bonds that held Him and broke open His tomb to the brilliant light of an Easter morning can open again the airless grave where your dreams may have been entombed.

Paul A. Rader, The War Cry

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