During the Lenten season, staff and church leaders will share a daily devotional. Please join us on the journey.
Key Verse: “I passed on to you as most important what I also received: Christ died for our sins in line with the scriptures, he was buried, and he rose on the third day in line with the scriptures.” (I Corinthians 15: 3-4)
Witness to the Resurrection
John Purrington – Senior Pastor
I didn’t know the story of Allister McGrath when his writing, Christian Theology, an Introduction was required reading my first year in seminary. Alister McGrath is a former atheist who has become a follower of Jesus, theologian and scientist. To say that he is a prolific writer in our day is akin to saying the sun is hot. His contributions to the faith community are matchless in the last 30 years. His Wikipedia bio speaks for itself.
McGrath tells the following story about the first time he awakened to the hope himself of Christ’s resurrection:
“[As a young man], I was a grumpy and frankly rather arrogant atheist. I was totally convinced that there was no God, and that anyone who thought there was needed to be locked up for her own good. I was majoring in the sciences at high school and had won a scholarship to study chemistry at Oxford University, beginning in October 1971. I had every reason to believe that studying the sciences further would confirm my rampant godlessness. While waiting to go up to Oxford, I decided to work my way through a pile of “improving books.” Needless to say, none of them were religious.
Eventually, I came to a classic work of philosophy—Plato’s Republic. I couldn’t make sense of everything I read. But one image etched itself into my imagination. Plato asks us to imagine a group of men, trapped in a cave, knowing only a world of flickering shadows cast by a fire. Having experienced no other world, they assume that the shadows are the only reality. Yet the reader knows—and is meant to know—that there is another world beyond the cave, awaiting discovery.
As I read this passage, the hard-nosed rationalist within me smiled condescendingly. Typical escapist superstition! What you see is what you get, and that’s the end of the matter. Yet a still, small voice within me whispered words of doubt. What if this world is only part of the story? What if this world is only a shadowland? What if there is something more wonderful beyond it?” (Alister McGrath, “The Resurrection: A Bridge Between Two Worlds,” Christianity Today)
The great proof of the resurrection of Christ is in the witnesses. The witnesses did something unimaginable. They based their whole life on Christ being resurrected from the dead! They didn’t slow down after time as all other human movements do. These witnesses to the resurrected Christ went on to express willingness the share faith at any cost, the embrace of sacrifice, the willingness to live life and face death based on their experiences. They were so persuaded by the reality of the Resurrection that they continued to testify even when scattered under Roman terror. What happened as a result remains the greatest proof of the reality of Christ, the continuing witness of the church.
Be assured of this today. We live in thanksgiving because Jesus died for our sins, was crucified and rose again from the grave on the third day.
You and I live today as witnesses of the Resurrection today for the next generation. We are witnesses to the transforming work of love, the grace of forgiveness and the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. We live as witnesses of a wondrous hope grounded in Christ’s resurrection! May we reflect the selflessness of the first witnesses as we give up our lives to tell the story of the Resurrection in our day.