About 100 years ago, a man named Guy Thorne wrote an interesting fictional book. While I never read the book, I understand the plot. He wrote that archaeologists had made a startling discovery. They unearthed a tomb near Jerusalem and found the remains of an ancient man who evidently died of crucifixion. On the walls of that tomb they found a plaque written in ancient Hebrew, which read: “Here lies Jesus of Nazareth, the great and good teacher. We secreted his body away in order to place him beyond the reach and rage of his enemies. He was the best of men. May he rest in peace.”
Neither the tomb nor the plaque was authentic. It seems that a wealthy atheist, a skeptic, an unbeliever, had it planted there in an effort to destroy Christianity. The novelist goes on to describe how the world changes as a result of the destruction of Christianity. It is as though a new age of darkness has descended upon the earth. Morale withers up and dies. Hope goes out like a candle snuffed. Joy is replaced by despair. The motto, “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die,” becomes the anthem of the world. Everyone believes the lie – that Christ is not raised from the dead. Thousands of missionaries return to their homes. Churches are darkened, abandoned for good. The Royal Law of Love is replaced with the law of the jungle. The Sermon on the Mount with savagery in the street. Love your neighbor turns to hatred. The whole world becomes a cauldron of bitterness and hatred, smoldering with ruin.
Why? Because a few bones were discovered in a tomb near Jerusalem. With that discovery, hope dies.
What Thorne wrote of the worldwide hopelessness that would exist without the resurrection of Jesus, Paul spoke of for us personally in 1 Corinthians 15.
1 Corinthians 15:12-28 (NIV) But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?3If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.
The Easter Sunday sermon in this post speaks more thoroughly to this important issue.