If Jesus Rose from the Dead, then (#22) It Would Have Radically Changed the World

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But the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd. And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.” Acts 17:5-7

The second greatest circumstantial evidence that points to the validity of the resurrection is the global movement that began at that moment in Jerusalem. The world was being turned “upside down” not only in the radical transformation of the individual human heart, but the very fabric of culture was also being changed. Views and practices that were long-held and socially ingrained were being challenged and overturned. Here are just ten[1]:

  • Abortion and infanticide
  • Human sacrifices
  • Prostitution
  • Pedophilia
  • Slavery
  • View of marriage
  • View of women, widows and orphans
  • View of the blind, lame and diseased
  • View of the poor
  • View of labor

When the Romans discarded their infants into the river, the Christians plucked them out. In a world where women were second-class or even low-class, mutilated and abused, Christians regarded them as joint-heirs and built safe houses. Where young boys were made sexual toys, Christians eventually put a stop to pedophilia. When plagues invaded the land and people fled, Christians remained behind to care for the sick. Where orphans were constricted to work-houses, Christians built orphanages.

When Christianity was born, the Romans detested manual labor and seventy-five percent of their work was done by slaves. It was the Christian worldview that transformed the view of labor and the work ethic. When the slave trade raged in Europe, William Wilberforce dedicated his life to abolishing it. When the king was the law, might made right and tyranny reigned, Samuel Rutherford wrote Rex Lex: The Law and the King and the notions of liberty and justice and God-given rights were given wing. It was a Christian worldview that established modern universities and hospitals and gave birth to modern science. 

There isn’t enough space to list the impact this uprising, started 2,000 years ago, has had on the world. We have yet to even mention its deep influence on art, music and literature through people like Rembrandt, Bach and Bunyan.

C. F. D. Moule, Cambridge scholar, stated that Jesus ripped a great hole in history the size and shape of the resurrection. It’s hard to put it more succinctly. 

No matter how hard people try to discount the historicity of Jesus or the empty tomb or the resurrection appearances of Jesus, it is impossible to deny that a revolution began on that morning—a revolution that continues to reverberate around the world.

It wasn’t a revolution begun and propagated by the high and the mighty, but by the common man. This, too, was revolutionary. The world seeks the rich and the famous; God seeks the humble and contrite of heart. Peter and John, were two “uneducated and untrained” men, yet they stood up in the face of the Jewish authorities and defied their order to speak no longer in the name of Jesus. So too, countless no-named people have been part of a two-thousand-year movement that has headed west from Jerusalem and moved around the globe, completing its circuit in the Muslim world, where many are coming to Christ in numbers never seen before.

This is the revolution that began when Magdalene was sobbing before the empty tomb and heard Jesus speak her name. It began when Thomas felt the nail prints in His hands and fell to his knees proclaiming “My Lord and my God!”. It began when Jesus left and the Holy Spirit came to empower the hotel maid and the plumber, the farmer and the rancher, the truck driver and the trash man. Yes, the Lord told us that there would be weeds within the church, those who pretend to be followers of Jesus but are not. You can look down the history of the church and see the ugly fruit of their work as well. But, it has been the steadfast labor of the humble and faithful servants of Christ that have fueled its steady growth.

This is that great cloud of witnesses.

God has entrusted the primary work of the kingdom to the common, ordinary believer. May we ever carry on the great heritage that we have been given.

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[1] Numerous resources record the impact of a biblical Christian worldview. However, I commend to you an excellent summary which I made required reading at the Focus Leadership Institute: How Christianity Changed the World, by Alvin Schmidt

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If Jesus Rose from the Dead, then (#1) the Seal Was Broken
We don’t spend much time talking about the seal that was placed upon the tomb, but I think it is significant. Here is the historical record: The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard. Matthew 27:62-66 The historical account states that the chief priests and the Pharisees “made the tomb secure by sealing the stone…”.  This seal was most likely several ropes that were drawn across the stone and then affixed to the tomb walls with a soft clay imprinted with some symbol of authority. It was also likely that the ropes were also sealed at their juncture in front of the stone. In this way, no one could move the stone or the ropes without breaking the dried clay and destroying the “seal” affixed upon the clay.  The seal was there to “put on notice” that no one was to mess with the tomb. Rome could deal quite nastily with those who did so. Now, this doesn’t mean much to us today, for we are long past the norm of using “seals” as they were utilized in ancient times. but in those days, a seal was inviolable[1]. It represented authority, authenticity, and finality. No one messed with a seal. In the book of Esther, when King Ahasuerus issued the order to save the Jews, he commanded them to “seal it with the king's ring, for an edict written in the name of the king and sealed with the king's ring cannot be revoked.” (Esther 8:8) When Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den, “… a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his lords, that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel." (Daniel 6:17) In the vision concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, the Scripture says this: And the vision of all this has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed. When men give it to one who can read, saying, “Read this,” he says, “I cannot, for it is sealed.” Isaiah 29:11 The permanence of a seal against all who were unauthorized to break it was an inviolable part of their world.  It becomes even more apparent when John is caught up to heaven and there beholds the scroll with seven seals. John begins to weep because there was “no one worthy to open the scroll or to look into it” (Revelation 5:4). Of course, we find that the Lamb, “standing as though it had been slain” (Revelation 5:6), was worthy to break the seals. And when each of those seals were broken, great calamity came upon the earth. Seals in the Scripture mean something. And John had wept, because the seal represented an inviolable wall to anyone who did not have the authority to break it. Seals show authority. They show authenticity. And they show finality for all except the one who had the authority to break them. And so, we now come back to the tomb. The seal, whether it was a Roman seal or the High Priest’s seal, represented a fixed closure that no one was allowed to breach. When it was set upon the tomb, there was a finality, a stamp of ultimate authority, that said, “this tomb is closed”. Ah, but God is not subject to the laws or seals of man. I can imagine that when the earth began to shake and the stone was rolled aside, that those clay seals with the authority of man impressed upon them broke into a thousand pieces and lay as trash littering the ground. If Jesus rose from the dead, then the seal of man, meant to keep Him in the grave, had been utterly and completely destroyed. But there is one more thing that must be mentioned regarding “seals”. It is important to note that God has given us this detail in the record to help substantiate the reality of the accounts of the empty tomb and the risen Lord Jesus. But it also brings our minds to something quite wonderful. In John 6:27, Jesus said this: Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” If God seals something, it is sealed! 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If Jesus Rose from the Dead, then... (#0)
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