Imagine seeing someone you know laying in an open casket after he’d been in a car accident. The body’s been cleaned up, but the mangled corpse reminds you that the man took the hit for you when he swerved between you and an oncoming car.
You can't wrap your head around it. Why would he do such a thing? You should be the one who died. You should be the one laying in that coffin. You want to look away, but you are overcome with emotion as you relive the tragic scene in your mind.
A few days later you go back to the home for the funeral service. You’re the first to arrive, so you walk into the viewing room only to find that the body is gone! You turn around in shock only to be hit with another stunner! The dead man is now standing behind you perfectly whole and alive! You instinctively run home to tell your friends and lock the door behind you because you’re so afraid, but then the man appears in the room seemingly out of nowhere! You and your friends are terrified and believe you’ve seen a ghost!
Yet, the man encourages you to touch his hands to prove that he is indeed alive. And if that wasn’t enough to knock your socks off, the next day the man appears again, sits down, and eats a fish dinner with you and your friends. The resurrected man hangs around for 40 more days and talks with two men while walking along the road. He meets with his half-brother, and is later seen by 500 people at once! (1 Corinthians 15:3-9).
This man represents the risen Christ, who also appeared to a powerful religious leader who was on a mission to hunt down Christians and kill them. When Jesus appeared to Paul, he was instantly transformed from a murderous Pharisee to an Apostle of Christ. Paul went on to write much of the New Testament, including the famous chapter on love (1 Corinthians 13:1-13). Christ’s disciples and early historians wrote about what they had seen and heard after Jesus' rose from the dead, too.
Many people don’t believe that Jesus was the Son of God or that he came back to life, but history proves that he was a real person, and eyewitnesses prove that he was resurrected. Time changed because of his existence. We calculate years before he was born and after he died (BC and AD). Literature, architecture, universities, and hospitals were named in his honor. Throughout history up to the present day, people were and are willingly martyred, rather than renounce their faith in Jesus Christ.
Think about this: People don’t willingly die for things they don’t believe in. People would not be willing to die for their belief in the tooth fairy. They would not name universities or hospitals after Santa Claus. If given the choice to renounce their faith or die, these people would easily cave in order to save their lives.
In the past and even today, people all over the world are willing to live and die for Jesus Christ and what they believe about the Bible. Do you have that kind of faith? Those who have an encounter with the risen Christ are transformed, and made new, and given strength to endure by the power of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 5:17; Luke 24:49).
This transformation should be as obvious as a baby being born. Jesus made it clear when he said, “You must be born again” (John 3:3).
Has there been a change since you came to Christ? If there is no growth, it’s time for a spiritual health checkup. “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified” (2 Corinthians 13:5).
Jesus said, "The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). The gospel is the good news concerning what Jesus did for us on the cross. His death and subsequent resurrection is the dividing line between historical Christianity and all other religions. No other person can make that claim.
We are all on a collision course with death because of sin, but Jesus intercepted and took the hit for us so that we can live forever with him in heaven. Find out how in Romans 10:9-10, 13.