They could not keep him in the grave
More than ten years ago I was given an exciting mission. I should meet a Chinese Christian in a hotel in a German city. He was a leader from the so-called Christian underground church, just escaped from his homeland where he was strongly persecuted and risked death penalty if he was caught. Why? Because he had proclaimed the gospel of Jesus Christ, his life and actions, death and resurrection - without permission from worldly authorities.
I was told his shocking and almost unbelievable story, of persecution, imprisonment, hard labour camps, cruel torture, escape from police and prison several times, but also his ardent belief in the savior that had transformed his life. He could also tell that the number of believers in this enormous country had risen dramatically, to well above one hundred millions, the double of Britain's total population, in just a few decades.
This of course is being silenced in Western media, not the least in our Norwegian media, since they are controlled by socialists and humanists and more ideological than journalistic, they put forward their daily biased agenda of hostility to Christianity, but strangely enough, quite positive to islam.
Media Cover Facts
Therefore it is important to cover certain facts, that churches are growing explosively on certain continents and rather spread the myth that Christianity is dead, irrelevant and hostile to life.
But people in the most populous country in the world has discovered that Christ did not die permanently on the cross, but resurrected to eternal life, incomprehensible for modern man, but it did happen. How do we know that? First by faith, but also by knowledge and rational analysis.
Our Easter celebration is for many a spring holiday, but for Christians, with a personal relationship to Christ, it is about the empty grave, about Jesus' resurrection, not as wishful thinking or fantasy, but as a historic reality. How can we trust that this really happened. Because the gospels told us about it. How can we trust these? Because they have proved to be solid historic documents, written, at least three of them, probably less than thirty years after Jesus' death and resurrection on Easter day.
They are not less reliable than any other sources/documents that we accept from ancient times. They are written by some of Jesus' disciples, who had been his daily companions for several years and experienced the whole of it, sober, down to earth people, not the least occupied with dreams and unrealism. They saw what they saw, heard what they heard and reported it. There were also many other witnesses to Jesus, his words and actions.
What Gain From Cooking Up Stories?
And what gains should the disciples have from cooking up stories. On the contrary, they obtained only, through their life and testimonies, suffer persecution and great distress, torture and death. All of them, except John, became martyrs and killed in the most gruesome ways. They had everything to lose, no one with sound minds would do that.
The Christian Church was born and spread all over the Roman empire under very hostile surroundings, there were tens of thousands of martyrs. The Roman rulers accepted all kinds of religions, except the teaching and followers of the craftsman from Nazareth - proclaiming he was the son of God.
The disciples proclaimed the gospel also for people who had been eyewitnesses for what Jesus said and did. How could they tell lies and get away with it?
Many, both Romans and Jews, should have liked to refute the disciples, but they could not. They could have crushed the whole " cult" at its beginning, simply by putting Jesus' dead body on display in the main street of Jerusalem and let people walk past. " Look here. Here is your "resurrected" master and savior." But they could not. Why? Simply because they could not find him. The grave was empty. God, his father had resurrected him.
The truth is that Jesus friends had experienced something mind-blowing, life changing, that they could not be silent about, whatever costs, just like persecuted Christians in many countries to day, the truth of Gods love and the resurrected master.
The Movement Had Started
We can read about this in the gospel, very realistic reliable historic material, not legends in form and content.
The French philosopher, Voltaire, wrote that Bible and Christianity would be dead in hundred years on. He died in 1778. The movement has grown enormously since then and counts today more than two billion people.
The German philosopher, Nietzche, said that science would refute Christianity. Science has grown and become very strong, but the movement grows. Many others have proclaimed its death. The movement grows.
So also in China, the strongest and most numerous revival in Church history ever. Mao Tse Tung's widow said 40 years ago that in a few decades Christianity would only be found in museums. The communist movement is soon only in museums, about to disappear, the Christian movement continues.
In China today there are more than one hundred million Christians, according to government recordings. There is enormous church growth in Asia, South America and Africa, a reality that Western media don't give any attention.
How do we explain this? The founder of the movement was an ordinary man, a craftsman in a remote Roman province. Never wrote anything, had no office, did not go far from his home town. Friends left him, just before he was crucified everyone left him. After his death the movement just exploded.
Something beyond had happened, something beyond description, but still real, unimaginable for modern man. What was the difference before and after? His resurrection, the real message of Easter, the greatest event in world history. They could not keep him in his grave. That was the beginning, but by no means the end. The movement goes on, until he comes back, like he promised.