Every Easter this tired trope gets trotted out that it’s not necessary to believe Jesus literally was raised from the dead. It’s fine, these progressive skeptics tell us, to embrace Easter as a beautiful metaphor describing the indestructible qualities of things like hope and love.
One example of many is found in the opinion piece linked above. Serene Jones, president of Union Theological Seminary, says,
For me, the message of Easter is that love is stronger than life or death. That’s a much more awesome claim than that they put Jesus in the tomb and three days later he wasn’t there. For Christians for whom the physical resurrection becomes a sort of obsession, that seems to me to be a pretty wobbly faith. What if tomorrow someone found the body of Jesus still in the tomb? Would that then mean that Christianity was a lie? No, faith is stronger than that.
Yes, Ms. Jones. It would mean that it’s all a lie. For if Christ is not risen from the dead, all of your preaching and mine is in vain (1 Cor. 15:14). The faith proclaimed in Scripture is not one of sentimentality, it’s object being the stuff that makes up inspirational Hallmark cards. No. The faith found in Scripture of which we are compelled to receive is a gift whose object is the living God, through whom we only know what love is because of the life, death and resurrection of his incarnate Son. It is a faith far stronger than sentimentality and cute slogans.
And it’s a faith that must be contended for. Within myself, perhaps in each of us, is a wandering heart which all too easily falls prey to cultural accommodation. This is why scripture is replete with commands to guard our heart (and our doctrine) closely.
And so it is that this Easter I found myself praying for faith. Perhaps you, too, would like to join me.
Father, you promised that those who seek you will find you. Open the eyes of my heart today so that I can see you in all your glory. Give me the faith of a child so that I am never outside your Kingdom.
Jesus, I want to believe the improbable and impossible because in you everything exists, and nothing exists apart from you. I want to believe that you were there when all that exists came into being. I want to believe that in the beginning you walked with Adam and Eve. I want to believe that you saved Noah through an ark. I want to believe that you parted a sea to save your people. I want to believe that you caused the sun to stand still, rained bread down from heaven, made water come from rocks, spared faithful men from a burning furnace, and toppled a giant with a sling and a stone.
Jesus, I want to believe that you were born miraculously of a virgin, fed 5000 with meager means, walked on water, healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, made the lame to walk, calmed the storm and raised the dead with your word.
Jesus, I want to believe that you laid down your life willingly to save me from my sins. I want to believe that your Father in Heaven raised you bodily from the grave, defeating sin and death. I want to believe that you now sit beside him in glory, interceding on my behalf and empowering me with your Spirit to destroy the works of the devil in my mind, body and soul and throughout your creation.
Spirit, where there is any doubt in me I pray you would guide me into truth. Give me life not according to my words but Yours. Make me to believe that the desires of God’s heart are to be mine, and that I will never know true joy unless my heart is beating with yours.
Give me childlike faith, Father, and surround me with your true followers who will sharpen me and encourage me to press on till the day we are brought into the eternal home you have prepared for us. Grant me to live each day emboldened by a robust faith that does not fear death because I know I am the child of the Creator of the universe who literally came to earth to give me the opportunity to become his child.
I ask all of this in the powerful, holy name of Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you now and forever. Amen.