Every Saturday I share some notes from a book I just read. To see some past ones, click here. This week’s book is Raised?: Finding Jesus by Doubting the Resurrection by Jonathan Dodson.
This book was incredibly helpful as I thought through my sermon for this Sunday.
This is a book I would definitely pass on to someone with questions about the resurrection and its validity. What I appreciated most was how it engaged all those questions, historically and in our culture today. Too many Christians take the resurrection for granted instead of engaging it. It is really a belief that is hard for many people to handle. I think if Christians actually stood back and thought about the beliefs they simply believe and listen to themselves from a secular perspective, they would hear how crazy we can sound. Yet at the same time, there is proof to answer those questions and doubts.
Here are some things I highlighted:
- Humanity seems prone to settle for less. We choose pleasure over life-long relationships, comfort over lasting impact. Many people approach Christianity this way, instead of firmly grasping the life Jesus offers, which is joyful and full of risk, they settle for an hour on Sunday.
- The mere scope of Jesus’ death sets him apart from any other martyr. Jesus’ sacrifice was not for a few, but for the many. His death was for people across ethnic, cultural lines. In Christ, we have a selfless death on behalf of all humanity.
- He died to death sin, yes, but he rose to defeat death (Romans 5:15 – 21). Jesus’ crucifixion is set apart from all other martyrs because he did not remain dead. The grave could not contain him. In fact, he isn’t a martyr, he’s a death defeater.
- Abundant life and purpose are restored in Christ. The life is the same: a restoring of deep intimate relationship with God. The purpose is also the same: reflect God’s image and be a blessing to the world. Jesus creates a new humanity that looks like him. If you are in Christ, you have resurrected life.
- If Christ hasn’t been raised, the Christian faith is fiction and we are stranded in the fall of humanity, trapped in our imperfections (1 Corinthians 15:17).
- If you doubt one thing, it’s because you believe another thing. If you doubt that a supernatural resurrection is possible, it’s because you have faith in the natural, that only natural explanations can account for our world. your doubt reveals where your faith is. In this case, your faith would be science. The religious person isn’t’ the only one who possesses faith. So does the secular person. One believes that Jesus rose from the dead; the other believes that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead. Both require faith. Both mean something for our lives and future.
- Leslie Newbiggin said, “Doubt is not an autonomous activity.” Doubt is not self-sufficient. It cannot exist on its own. It does not live in a vacuum. Doubt is propped up by faith in something else. To doubt one thing is to have faith in another.
- Instead of trusting in reason and experience, the religious person trust in religious activity for meaning and life. This could be in church attendance, spiritual disciplines, holy living, generosity, or telling others how many spiritual things you’ve done (Linnea). Acceptance and love from God becomes based on my performance. The sin under the sin is self-righteousness.
- Jesus is the right target for our faith is because he is the resurrection and the life. It is important to grasp that Jesus is not asking for faith “in the resurrection” per se (a supernatural event), but for faith in a resurrected Christ. Jesus’ resurrection demonstrates his power over death, which also proves he uniquely has the power of life. By rising from the dead, Jesus is saying to the secular and religious person: “In your search for meaning, worth, acceptance, and love, I’m what you’ve been looking for. I alone can give you life. All that greatness, acceptance, beauty, love is all found in me. Your god-sized desire for intimacy is meant for God, the God of life. Faith in women can’t get you that. Faith in kids can’t get you that. Faith in a career or money can’t get you that. When we put our faith in the resurrected Christ, we redirect all our desires to their origin, like tracing divine threads of joy, meaning, and purpose all the way back to the source. Jesus isn’t scolding us for our desire to be loved, accepted, beautiful, or even experience greatness. He’s showing us that he, alone is where we find tru love, acceptance, beauty, and greatness.
- If Christ has not been raised, we are stuck in a tailspin of desire and a life of misdirected faith in this life and the next. However, if Christ has been raised we have forever fulfillment of desire and the final target for our faith. The resurrection points us to eternal life in Jesus. Faith in Jesus will bear fruit not just in this life but also in the life to come. Receiving this promise of bodily resurrection life will be our final step into the resurrection. If Christ has not been raised, we remain in our sins and our faith is futile. But Christ has been raised; therefore, your faith in him will be forever fruitful.
- There are some big assumptions in the gospel: we sin, Christ is strong enough to deal with sin, and that he was stronger than death – he was raised from the dead!
- At first glance, the death of Jesus is easy enough to embrace. It is well documented that the Roman authorities crucified people regularly. The god-sized claim beneath Jesus’ self-sacrifice is what ruffles feathers. The claim that his sacrifice was on behalf of all humanity troubles both our pride and our intellect. Jesus represented all of us? What gives him the right? Who says we need a representative or sacrifice anyway?
- Biblically, resurrection isn’t restricted to Jesus. All who have faith in him will eventually gain a resurrected body to enjoy a “resurrected” world.