An article in The Washington Post by contributing author, Eric Reece who “is a writer in residence at the University of Kentucky, where basketball is the true religion”, wrote that we need to save Jesus by ignoring Easter. Reece declares that we need to forget the resurrection and focus on living the teachings of Jesus, the “radical Jewish street preacher”. His logic is that if we stopped paying attention to the death and resurrection of Jesus we could get around to living the teachings of Jesus whose “words [were] so radical, they got him killed, words so radical, they might still bring about the end of empire and the beginning of the kingdom of God.”
Eric Reece completely misses the point. Apparently he has not realized the crushing weight of condemnation and guilt that a person would incur if they attempted to live out the words of Christ. Read Matthew 5-7 and tell me that you can do that on your own? How about the “simple” ethical command of Jesus, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48)?
The joy of the Christian is that through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ those who believe in Him as their Savior will be made perfect in the eyes of God based upon the Person and work of Christ and not on their own sinful and hopeless self-effort. Not only that, it is Christ who is also in the process of making us holy from the inside out in our living to match our perfect positional standing in Him (Hebrews 10:14).
Do Christians emphasize the life and words of of Jesus? Absolutely! But Christians are also very clear that without the death and resurrection of Jesus, the “gospel of Reece” is not good news but a sentence of condemnation under the law.
It is also puzzling that Reece would talk about the words that got Christ killed. Those radical words were not His moral teachings but the declaration that He is the Christ, the Son of God, God Himself in the flesh who is the ultimate Judge of the universe (Mark 14:61-64).
Reece also places his blame on American Christianity as though it is unique in its emphasis of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Yet Christians have always believed in and emphasized these facts. The very foundation of the Christian faith is based on the factual bodily resurrection of Jesus (1 Corinthians 15). The fact that a bunch of cowardly disciples who were hiding in a house would turn into brave declarers of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead is just one of many points that show the truth behind the resurrection.
The writers of The Resurgence give a few more examples:
Jesus was really dead. He was beaten and scourged. Many people died just from the scourging. And then he was nailed to a cross with three spikes that were 7–9 inches long and a half-inch thick. And to make sure he was dead, they speared him in the side to pierce both his lung and heart. He died the death we should have died. He died in our place for our sin.
Jesus Was Buried
Jesus was also buried and everyone involved knew where. The tomb was sealed with a Roman seal and guarded so nobody would mess with it. The chief priests, disciples, and followers of Jesus all knew where it as. It was under Roman guard. His body wasn’t misplaced; it was in a tomb for three days.
Jesus Rose from the Dead
Jesus rose from the dead. He showed up to his disciples and followers and then to over 500 people who saw him (1 Cor. 15:6). His disciples didn’t steal his body and promote a hoax they claimed to be true and for which they would all later be killed violently. He didn’t pass out on the cross, resuscitate later in the tomb, tear off the 75 pounds of linen burial cloths, push back an enormous stone by himself, and then overpower armed guards. His resurrection proved his victory over sin and death and ensures believers’ regeneration (1 Pet 1:3-5), justification (Rom 4:25), and future resurrection (1 Cor 6:14).
What Billions of Christians Have Always Believed
The Apostles’ Creed, the oldest and most popular creed of the church, summarizes 1 Corinthians 15:3–4 and states, “He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried…On the third day He arose again from the dead.”
This is what billions of Christian have always believed and what over 1 billion Christians will celebrate this Easter. There are good reasons for believing it and no good reasons not to believe it.
Save Jesus by ignoring Easter? The thought not only condemns the listener to this false gospel to a life of hopelessness but completely distorts the life and teachings of Jesus.