Exploring Hope: The First Easter

Easter is fundamentally about the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Biblical Christianity claims that it isn't just a spiritual parable, but a historical reality that took place in space and time. And according to the New Testament, the resurrection changes everything (1 Cor. 15).

But why believe in the resurrection? Well, that question is too big for this short article. But if you're interested in going deeper, I would recommend reading "Reason for God" by Timothy Keller.

However, I would like to introduce you to an important “evidence” for the resurrection. In Luke chapter 6, Jesus chose 12 men and appointed them as "Apostles," which means "messenger" or "sent one." These men weren't chosen from the upper echelon of society but were ordinary people.

But during the events of Christ's crucifixion, as he was arrested and brutally executed by the Romans, the Apostles scattered. Peter, the leading Apostle, denied Christ. And the others were nowhere to be found. But even after reports of the resurrection started pouring in, they were still hiding out in secret rooms, avoiding persecution.

But something happened. These ordinary, uneducated people traveled throughout the Roman Empire — and the known world — preaching the good news of Christ’s resurrection and salvation through faith in his name. And according to tradition, nearly all of the Apostles went to their deaths for their witness to Christ. You can read about this in a classic work called "Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.”

But why? Well, they saw Jesus die on the cross, but on the third day (the first Easter) they saw him alive in resurrected glory. Therefore, they knew that they had the promise of resurrection life through faith in Christ. Nothing could stop them. It changed their lives and, by extension, changed the world. After all, it's doubtful that we would be talking about Christianity today if the Apostles hadn't preached it throughout the known world, sacrificing their own lives in the process.

So, this Easter, I would like to encourage you to think about this question: If the resurrection isn't true, what emboldened the Apostles and led them to sacrifice their lives? Would they have died for a lie which they themselves invented? Probably not. Something changed their lives powerfully and gave them boldness to face death and persecution. Perhaps this same reality can change your life as well.

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About Will Stern

Originally from Colorado, Will Stern is the pastor of Hope Presbyterian Church in Garnet Valley. He majored in violin performance for his undergrad and taught violin for a number of years before being called into ministry. He studied theology at Duke University and Westminster Theological Seminary.

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