So this Jesus of Nazareth is “the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” But someone might ask, “How can I know that for sure? I wasn’t there when He did all the miracles. I didn’t get to hear Him teach. I have no experience of Him interacting with me so how can I be sure that He is who Peter says He is? How can I have that same kind of confidence?”
The answer to that question will be celebrated this month. The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is God’s stamp of authenticity that Jesus is who the New Testament declares Him to be, the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Now there are plenty of folks who question Jesus’ resurrection, but they do so in spite of the evidence. If you were starting a new religion in the first century you would not write that women were the first witnesses to the event on which everything hinges. You would not portray the founding members of the religion as unbelieving cowards at the onset of that crucial event nor would you make a note that even after Jesus had made multiple appearances, there were still some who doubted that He was really raised from the dead. All of this on top to the dramatic change in the Apostles two months later is strong evidence that Jesus truly is raised from the dead. Paul said there were 500 people who witnessed His resurrection and he wrote that when most of them were still alive, essentially saying, “Go ask them if you don’t believe me.”
The question for us is, do we really believe that Jesus is raised from the dead? As Paul implied in 1 Cor. 15, are we standing in the truth of the Gospel? Do we believe, as he says in v. 3, that Jesus died for our sins and was raised to life on the third day according to the Scriptures? Because if I believe that then Jesus can’t simply be a good teacher or someone pointing us to God. If He is raised from the dead then He truly is the Christ, the Son of the Living God! If that is true, then it has vast implications for my life. I think one of the reasons that the church in these United States is in decline is due to a lack of confidence in the true identity of Jesus. We may confess on Sunday that He is Lord of all, our Savior and King but come Monday we start living in the default mode of the age. We substitute Son of God and Savior for good teacher and guide. When we relate to Him in that way, as teacher and guide, then everything is optional. We seek His advice rather than bow to His commands. We set up His teaching as an ideal to be admired rather than as truth that brings life. We pick and choose the things that we’re comfortable with, that help us fit in with our group and lay aside the things that call us into a brand new way of living.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, calls us to a life of compassion, graciousness and generosity towards all people in contrast to the moralism that religion breeds. At the same time, it calls us to a life of purity, holiness and faithfulness in contrast to the hedonism of a godless society. The only way we’ll ever get there is by working the Good News of Jesus, all that He is and all that He has done, deep into our soul. It means that we must be continually asking “If it is true that Jesus is the promised Redeemer (Savior) and that He really is the Son of the Living God who died for our sins and is raised from the dead, then what am I to do?” That’s what the Bible is talking about when it calls us to believe. It’s not easy but it is necessary if we are ever going to be the kind of people He calls us to be. Maybe you’re like me. I want to cry out with the father of the boy who had a demon, “I believe; Lord help my unbelief!” The Lord is Risen; He is Risen indeed! (Now what are we going to do with that?)