Many who admire the moral teaching of Jesus discount the reality of his death and resurrection.
It smacks too much of pagan myths of dying and rising gods.
Yet as scholars have pointed out, the entire power and message of Christianity rests upon it. Without his resurrection, Jesus would simply be remembered as a remarkable man who took on power and privilege and ultimately failed.
St Paul saw this clearly when he assured the Christians in Corinth that they would rise just as Jesus had, and so conquer death; otherwise the entire Christian gospel was a total sham, “… if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless… if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world” (1 Cor 15.16-20)
It is also difficult to discount so many witnesses who claim to have seen Jesus after his death (1 Cor 15.3-8), even to have eaten with him.
More striking yet is the transformation of his disciples. From men who squabbled among themselves over their relative standings, who misunderstood Jesus’ teaching, deserted him as he died, and were frankly dubious about the initial reports of his resurrection, they became new creatures who preached with power and conviction, rejoicing to be flogged and imprisoned for their faith in him, dying far from Palestine proclaiming their belief and commitment to their risen Lord.
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