What was so special about a small Jewish baby, born illegitimately to a young Jewish peasant girl from nowhere, in the middle of nowhere? Why does he provoke such interest? What makes his life so significant? Is it because Jesus came to be the basis of the Christian religion? I don’t think so. When was the last time you saw a documentary debating the details of the birthplace of Mohammed, Gandhi or Buddha, or any religious leader for that matter? What is it then that sets Jesus apart from every other religious leader to the extent that we want to know every detail about every aspect of his life?
I believe the answer is that Jesus made preposterous claims about who he was and why he was here; claims that he was God incarnate; claims that he was the only means of salvation and eternal life; claims that he would die, come back to life, go to heaven and return again for those who love him; claims that we would laugh at if we could dismiss one thing: his resurrection; the report of millions of people throughout history that Jesus not only rose from the dead as he said he would, but that he is presently alive and active in their everyday life.
Were it not for the belief in his resurrection, the details of his birth and life would be relatively insignificant and unimportant. Alister McGrath observed that, “The uniqueness of Jesus was established by the New Testament writers through the Resurrection and the subsequent recognition that Jesus was none other than the living God dwelling among us.”
What makes the question of the resurrection so important are the implications that are raised by its validity. It brings us face to face with that which transcends our understanding and forces us to deal with the reality of the existence of God. Doctor William Craig stated, “If Jesus of Nazareth really did come back from the dead, then we have a divine miracle on our hands and, thus, evidence for the existence of God.”
Not only does this mean that God exists but that the claims of Jesus are true, and this God has made personal contact with man in such a manner that demands a response. In addition to this, if Jesus rose from the dead, then that gives undeniable supremacy and validity to the Christian faith. In fact, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the single most important doctrine of the Christian faith. The significance of every other principle, teaching, and theological tenet within Christianity hinges on the validity of this great event.
Having said that, let me say that I believe that the Resurrection is an event that is impossible to prove to everyone. What I mean by that is this: you can present all the evidence in the world for the resurrection, (and there is a lot of it), and still not convince some. Even if you could produce the testimony of an eyewitness who was inside the tomb and literally saw Jesus begin to breathe, get up and walk out, you would still have those who deny its validity. Why? For some, it is easier to believe a lie rather than acknowledge the existence of a loving God who holds us accountable for our actions.
As for me, I am irrevocably convinced of the resurrection, not simply because of the undeniable evidence that points toward it. I am convinced that Jesus lives because of His daily presence in my life. I know Him, and what's more important is that He knows me. He is my Lord, Savior, Redeemer, and Commander in Chief. He is my Counselor, Comforter, and constant companion. He is my Sustainer and Strength. But what continues to amaze me day after day is that He is my best friend. He has been a friend to me when I was not a friend to Him. He has been faithful to me, even when my faithfulness to Him has wavered. Every promise He has ever made, He has kept unequivocally. He is my passion and that which give my life meaning. Everything good in me He created, and everything bad in me He crucifies if I let Him. He truly is my all in all.
Luke Timothy Johnson said, “The resurrection experience that founded and that grounds the Church is not based on the transitory encounters of a few people on Easter day or for forty days thereafter, but on the experience of power through Jesus by generations of people across the centuries and continuing until today.”
I think the old Hymn said it best, “You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart.”