The Resurrection — Easter

As Christianity moved out of its base region it entered a pagan culture which included worship of the sun goddess Estera. The sun rose on the same horizon each day so the direction from which it emerged was called East in her honor. Each spring a grand festival involving celebrating the goddess was held.

The Christians traditionally celebrated the rising of the Son of God about the same time of year. With the rapid expansion of Christianity resulting in many former worshipers of Estera turning to Christ the Christian community decided to merge the two celebrations in worship of Christ resurrection. It gave occasion for the former worshipers of Estera to have a new celebration to replace their old one. They called the celebration of the resurrection of Christ Easter.

An event as phenomenal as a decidedly dead man coming back to life is as rare occurrence as would be the rising of the sun in the west. In every generation there have been those who have assiduously tried to dispute the reality of the resurrection. They must contend with a massive mountain of evidence in support of the miracle.

The belief in the bodily resurrection did not develop over time as a result of memory fading and myth emerging. Nor was it the figment of the imagination of unlettered tribesmen. It was the central propellant that caused an explosion of faith into other cultures. It was foundational from the day of it being reported.

The Sanhedrin that condemned Christ to death appointed a special prosecutor to investigate and expose the rumored resurrection. He was one of the most learned advocates of the era. He was chosen because he was the apple of the eye of the distinguished jurist of the Jewish Supreme Court. They empowered him to apprehend, threaten, and even kill anyone who professed to believe in such a radical concept. His role was to invalidate the report. He investigated the incident more than any person of the time. Instead of refuting the resurrection he was converted to belief in the one resurrected. His name was Paul who at the risk of his own life became an apostle of Christ.

In one of his writings (I Corinthians 15) he listed persons who had encountered the resurrected Christ and urged skeptics to talk to these eyewitnesses. More than 515 first person witnesses are listed. That is a creditable cadre of witnesses various ones of which are said to have talked with Him, dined with Him, walked with Him, and touched Him. This was no aberration nor was it a hallucination. There never has been a group hallucination.

After Paul’s conversion pressure was intensified on the Christian community. If friends had stolen the body they could have spared themselves suffering and death by producing the corpse. If enemies had stolen it they could have ended the movement by producing the lifeless form.

If neither friends nor enemies had reason to conceal a stolen corpse the resurrection is seen to be more plausible. That fact brings joy to hearts in which the first Easter message still reverberates: “He is risen.”