Cable television is an absurdity to me. More than once I have toyed with the option of getting rid of it, but always relent, because I do enjoy certain programming (like Sounders soccer and Jayhawk basketball). Still, it strikes me as ridiculous to have hundreds of channels available, of which only three carry any interest for me. Then, to really intensify the inanity, we move to those insomniac hours, midnight to six, and see how the program offerings degrade even further.
The graveyard shift cable lineup promises to solve all of my problems in 30 minutes. For just six easy payments of $59.99, by employing the vendor’s techniques or by using their products, I can cure my balding defect, loose fifty pounds while I sleep, and eliminate erectile dysfunction forever. My facial pores will disappear along with all of my age spots and wrinkles, my Brazilian bikini wax will be picture-perfect, and I can close any real estate deal to achieve a six or seven figure income if I enroll in the astonishing how-to seminar in next ten minutes.
With my material life in order, I can flip over to the spiritual programming where Brother PerfectHair is willing to send me the Blessed Prayer Cloth for a modest donation to his godly efforts, and if (in faith) I wrap that cloth around my tennis elbow, the pain will magically disappear. For an additional $39.95 I can be a partner in his ministry and God will bless me financially for doing so. On the next channel, the televangelist with the pulsating blood vessel on the side of his head is passionately explaining to me how God is depending on me to keep his program on the air, and how, if I don’t pry open my checkbook for him, God is going to lose this cable time slot, and the program will no longer be broadcast. God must be living paycheck to paycheck.
The discerning man or woman sees these charlatans for who and what they are, and we snicker at their inanity, all the while feeling that pit in our stomach for those who are taken in by their snake-oil sales pitches. I’ve long wondered about the financial independence seminars. If their program is so wondrous and foolproof, why do they still travel the country week after week, taking time away from their families to hold seminars in hotel banquet rooms? They claim that a deeply benevolent heart drives them to help us all achieve our financial dreams, but I suspect what they really want is for me to help them achieve theirs. The wild claims in the paragraphs above carry with them no evidentiary backing. If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is too good to be true.
Some pretty amazing claims were repeated and amplified this week, claims that fire the imagination and boggle the mind, claims that I can live forever, free of pain, free of agony, free of worry, free of hunger or fatigue – forever in the presence of God himself. The evidence offered to support these claims is the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, never to die again. Is it too good to be true? No. Not at all.
To begin with, Jesus’ tomb was empty, and the grave-clothes were still in it, a fact that negates the idea of the body being stolen. The clothes would go with the stolen body. No credible scholar, Christian or secular, debates this reality. Secular scholars attempt to explain it away, but none denies that the body was missing from the tomb. Beyond the empty tomb, eyewitnesses to the resurrection of Jesus abounded. Most notably, the women who went to the tomb and found it empty, shortly thereafter, encountered the resurrected Jesus. No writer of the time would fabricate such an account. A woman’s testimony was not even allowed in legal proceedings. A fabricated account would have had men discovering the empty tomb. Later, Jesus appeared in the flesh to the disciples. They touched him, interacted with him, ate with him. Over the next 40 days, Jesus appeared to more than 500 eyewitnesses. So profound was the impact of these appearances and interactions that people were willing to die horrible physical deaths rather than deny what they knew to be true. Men and women do not suffer and die for what they know to be a lie.
So what does the mean for you and for me? I believe the most telling response came from Jesus’ own lips, when he said, “Because I live, you shall live” – John 14:19. The resurrection of Jesus is the guarantee of my own resurrection. Jesus conquered death, and through his victory, I will conquer death as well. “In Christ, all are made alive” – 1 Corinthians 15:22.
“So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body … “For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?'” – 1 Corinthians 15:42-44; 52-55.
Victoriously in Christ!