Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Resurrection and the Growth of Christianity

By My Anonymous Friend

Why are dogs named Caesar or Nero?   And why do we name our children Peter, Thomas, James, John, and Mary?

Today is Resurrection Sunday. I have tried to give special thought to the significance of this entire week, sometimes known as Holy Week or Passion Week. Last Sunday we reminded ourselves of the triumphal entry into Jerusalem Jesus experienced. Throughout the week I thought of what happened to Jesus after that great and ironic entry. There was a trial and the humiliation of it. There was the agony in Gethsemane where what was about to come to Jesus was so overwhelming to Him. On Friday we attended a very meaningful service here which really brought home to me the horror of crucifixion, the darkness and the despair that characterized that day. All this served to prepare my spirit for today. What an incredible contrast to Friday!!  Scripture says when the disciples first heard that the tomb was empty they considered it nonsense. Who can blame them?  Peter however, the ever impetuous man that he was, ran to the tomb to see for himself. And yes, indeed it was empty!  I would love to know what that day was like for eyewitnesses.

Let’s get back to the dogs we name Caesar and Nero now. Historians estimate that by roughly AD 40 there might have been around 5,000 followers of Jesus in the Roman Empire. However, by AD 350 it is estimated there were about 33,000,000. What accounts for such fantastic growth?  I would suggest the resurrection had everything to do with the growth of Christianity. The Roman Empire declined over the years while Christianity flourished. That is why I suppose we name our dogs Caesar or Nero! (This idea is not unique with me. I heard it in a sermon this morning). The explosive growth of Christianity is one reason why Scripture speaks of the power of the resurrection. It transforms. It is the basis and foundation of our faith. It provides hope!  It is the basis for preaching. I have long believed that if a pastor cannot preach at Easter time, he cannot preach at all. The resurrection is the single most significant event in the entire history of the world.

So I wish you a very meaningful celebration of Resurrection Sunday. May you experience a renewed sense of hope and life itself today.

1 comment:

  1. The birth and growth of the Christian Church from a tiny band of frightened men and women to a world-wide movement is remarkable. Without the resurrection it is inexplicable. It is even more remarkable when you consider that this was a religion that demanded the highest standard of morality and social awareness, as well as a personal commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord. Thanks a lot.


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