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Easter Sunday: '...a better resurrection'

By Charlie Osewalt | 16 April 2014 | Comments (1)

Easter Sunday: '...a better resurrection'

Speaking about people of faith, the writer of Hebrews states,

'...Through acts of faith, they toppled kingdoms, made justice work, took the promises for themselves. They were protected from lions, fires, and sword thrusts, turned disadvantage to advantage, won battles, routed alien armies. Women received their loved ones back from the dead. There were those who, under torture, refused to give in and go free, preferring something better: resurrection.' Hebrews 11: 33-35, The Message
Abel, Abraham, Sarah, Noah, David, and so many others that the writer is unable to list them all, were and are part of a great narrative: the weak and marginalized win. Prayers are answered; Faith is rewarded in the here and now. It's what we want to hear: trust, obey and believe and all ends well. Somehow this is going to work out. But, then comes verse 35: 'There were those who, under torture, refused to give in and go free, preferring something better: resurrection.' Sometimes - a lot of the time actually - the underdog loses; the marginalized are forgotten by the world. Nobody seems to care about the tortured, the abused, the hated and the persecuted. In Ancient or Modern times, people suffer and their suffering frames and forms their beliefs.

Till Jesus rose. Then everything changed.

Here are some pre-resurrection beliefs from the first century:

  • Gentiles/pagans could not believe in a bodily resurrection. For them, the soul was good; body corrupt. A body resurrected was not just inconceivable but intensely undesirable.
  • Jews believed in an individual powerful messiah. For them, the material world was good. For them death was not liberation from a corrupt body, but tragic. They had a belief in a resurrection at the end of the world for all; but not in history, not while the rest of the world was in suffering.
  • No people group at that time believed in a bodily resurrection.

People could not believe in a bodily resurrection because no one had even imagined one.
Till Jesus rose.

Then, in a dramatic turnaround, both Greeks and Jews grew to worship and believe.
All peoples heard about a series of multiple, credible, inexplicable encounters with a risen Jesus. Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 describes what happened:

'...Brethren, the gospel I preached...[was] what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now.'
People saw a bodily risen Jesus. They touched Him. They spoke with Him. They poked Him. They 'Facebooked': told others and new networks formed. Beliefs changed and they were willing to die for their belief. They had seen something 'better' a risen Saviour. They saw Jesus.
So, if you have tears in your eyes as you see suffering children, or injustice, or hate, or torture, and death, let Jesus 'wipe every tear away.'
This Easter, look to Jesus, because He wiped death out so we could all share in 'a better resurrection.' (NIV)


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image by William HC Chong, used under creative commons licence

Posted by Charlie Osewalt

Charles Osewalt is a husband, father of four children and former elder at Redeemer Church NYC. He has worked in schools for the last twenty years as principal in the Morrisanna section of the Bronx. He formerly worked as a content and curriculum specialist for Stewardship. He tweets at @charlesosewalt



April 2, 2019 4:13 PM
Just because a lot of people suddenly believe a new twist to an old concept (resurrection of the dead), is that evidence that the new version is true?

The problem for the resurrection of Jesus story is that we have zero uncontested eyewitness reports of anyone claiming to have seen a resurrected BODY. For all we know, the original eyewitnesses all saw...a bright light.

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