Belfast Telegraph

In uncertain times Christ's death and resurrection offer comfort and hope

Christian message: Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection remains an extraordinary story today
Christian message: Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection remains an extraordinary story today
Alf McCreary

By Alf McCreary

Christian people and those who don't go to church might ask during this Easter weekend, 'What is the world coming to?'

In Ireland, same-sex marriage has been legalised, and there is a strong possibility that the May referendum will lead to a repeal of the constitution's Eighth Amendment, which severely restricts abortion on demand.

If this happens, the Irish Government will introduce legislation to allow for unrestricted abortion for up to the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

North of the border, meanwhile, the pressure continues for the legalisation of same-sex marriage, and a Private Member's Bill has been introduced at Westminster.

It is unlikely that this will succeed, and people may rightly question why Westminster should legislate on such a thorny issue, particularly when we still have Stormont, however lame a duck that is.

Nevertheless, the pressure for the legalisation of same-sex marriage is relentless, and it will become part of our social fabric sooner or later.

We are living in an era of uncertainty, and this theme formed part of the Easter message of Peter Lynas, from the Evangelical Alliance Northern Ireland, who wrote: "There is a deep concern about the impact of Brexit on relations across Ireland. There is uncertainty about the future of Stormont, and politics globally is becoming more fractious."

However, he also said: "The Easter story reminds us that governments come and go. The Romans thought that they had killed off Jesus, unaware that His kingdom would far outlast theirs. Today, more people worship Jesus than ever before."

Mr Lynas reminds us that Good Friday was the beginning, not the end. This is essentially the Christian message not only at Easter, but also for the entire year.

It is difficult for non-believers to comprehend this, because they are being asked to accept the reality of life after death.

Yet, as St Paul said, if believers are wrong about the resurrection, they have nothing to offer.

Happily, however, billions of Christians will rejoice tomorrow in the hope and comfort of resurrection.

It remains an extraordinary story. Were it reported by today's media, there would be reporters swarming over all over the hill of Calvary and the empty tomb. There would be eye-witness accounts from all sides, deep analyses from theological and medical experts, and statements from the Press offices of the Jewish church leaders and the Roman rulers to try and justify their actions.

We would be inundated with information and, like today, we would be none the wiser for it.

Nowadays, we are bombarded with information on so many subjects that in the end we hardly know what to think.

One of the great strengths of the crucifixion and resurrection story is that we are told about it in various ways in the Gospels, but also with a remarkable brevity, which adds to its impact and its sense of cataclysmic events still shrouded in a divine mystery.

Of course, some people believe that it never happened, but there is considerable archaeological evidence to help us trace the steps of Jesus Christ.

In a recent article, Professor Eric Meyers, an archaeologist and expert in Judaic studies, said that while the details of Christ's ministry had been debated for centuries, "no one who is serious doubts that he's an historical figure".

Many scholars doubted if the Pool of Bethesda ever existed, but recent excavations in Jerusalem discovered genuine traces of it beneath the ruins of centuries-old churches.

Physical traces are not the final indicator of Christ's earthly ministry. As the archaeologist and journalist Kristin Romey noted, "The absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence".

In the long run, the faith of true believers in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is for them evidence enough.

That is what this Easter weekend is really all about.

Enjoy the family holiday, but try and think about the deeper meaning of Easter as well.

Belfast Telegraph


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