COLUMN: God raised Him

Published 9:01 pm Sunday, April 7, 2024

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We boys were about twelve years old, a good handful of school friends. We were at Brent Beecham’s place in 1977, and his Dad was an airline pilot who built houses a little on the side. A part-time contractor. 

A contractor with house building equipment strewn about and twelve year old boys. You see where this is headed? What could possibly go wrong? 

Someone had convinced the Beechams to set up about two or three stories worth of scaffolding. It was just towering over us in all its glory, right there in a clearing in the woods next to their house. 

I think the Beecham boys had already been playing on it when a day finally came that I had been invited over along with the group from the neighborhood and school. 

Of course, unsupervised, it didn’t take long until someone got the idea that we should climb it. All of us. Did I mention that we were roughly middle school age? We got up there and were horsing around and in retrospect I understand now that we overbalanced it in one direction. 

It’s amazing how slowly scaffolding can tilt and then fall. In slow motion there we were, all understanding what was happening. I remember thinking, because I really had that much time, “Is this how it’s all going to end? Yeah, we’re probably going to die.”

This thing fell forever until we all instinctively took a dive off of it at the last second. A mouthful of dirt later and a couple shakes of the head, by some miracle I was okay. Actually everyone was OK. I still don’t understand how. 

Jesus Christ came to live among us. Emmanuel: God with us. He was born to a poor peasant couple. He was raised in so much obscurity in a carpenter’s home that the Bible doesn’t even tell that part of the story. 

When his time had come, he took on a public profile and even allowed himself to be identified as Son of Man. The Son of God. Some people even asked him if he were The Messiah. 

He was arrested eventually, betrayed and abandoned by some around him, put through a sham of a trial, crucified in a public and violent way, and buried in a borrowed tomb. 

That is, he handed himself over to us. Humanity. Jesus never was recorded as saying, “Is this really how this is going to end?” He always knew it was going to end like that. 

In 1 Corinthians 15: 1-11, the apostle Paul had lots of important things to say. In this and other of his letters, he says essentially, “I want to remind you about the things that are central to your life.” Then, with regard to Jesus, we anticipate Paul saying things about the parables of Jesus, the Sermon on the Mount, maybe even the life of Jesus because those things would instruct us in our lives. 

Nope. There is very little except Jesus died, Jesus was buried, Jesus rose again. For Paul, this was everything that any of us needed to know about Jesus. Now, don’t mishear me. There is way more that is important, and the apostle enumerated those things in other places so much that we developed a theology system from his works. 

For Paul, the beginning of his life was the end of Jesus’ life. Paul says Jesus died, was buried, and was raised from the dead. He also says Jesus appeared to others and, lastly, to himself. These two things are the pivot of Paul’s proclamation.

Yes, Jesus was raised.  But the main point is that what had happened was shared with so many people. The Resurrection is a moment that transforms the world forever. Jesus lives. Because of that, nothing ever had to be the same again for you or for me. 

It’s a remarkable story, really. It suggests that sometimes what we need this side of heaven every bit as much as we may eternal salvation is to be saved from being the easiest or worst version of ourselves. 

Jesus always knew it was going to end this way. Still, he let it happen. My happiest Easter privilege is to remind you that God raised him. Jesus Christ was crucified and buried but has risen again. 

Risen in all his power, including the power to love and the loving power to set us free to be the best versions of ourselves that we could be.

Dr. Charles Qualls is senior pastor at Franklin Baptist Church. Contact him at 757-562-5135.