In Nashville, Tennessee stands a full size replica of the Parthenon. Although this structure contains many noteworthy features, one of its most impressive characteristics to me are the two enormous bronze doors which stand about 30 feet high each weighing seven and a half tons. Each of these mammoth doors swing on a huge hinge which provides them with a system of counter balances making it possible for even a child to move those behemoths. Each of those doors literally depends upon its one huge hinge. Without that hinge, the door would be transformed into a useless mass of metal. But because of that hinge that enormous lifeless mass of metal becomes a magnificent door.
There is a way in which Christianity can be likened to those immense doors. For Christianity, everything depends upon whether one event is historical or not.
Paul cut to the chase regarding what it would mean if Jesus never rose from the dead. “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is futile and your faith is empty. … And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is useless; you are still in your sins. … For if only in this life we have hope in Christ, we should be pitied more than anyone.” (1 Corinthians 15:14-19). Without Jesus’ resurrection being anchored in history, Christianity degrades into merely a curious movement of history, a social do-gooders club, and a philosophical Band-Aid for living short and meaningless lives.
On the other hand, if Jesus rose from the dead, then everything he taught must be true. The gospel would be God’s power to save.
Why did Saul of Tarsus, the fellow who was convinced he should do everything against Christ suddenly change his point of view 180 degrees to begin to proclaim the very gospel he had tried to destroy? He wrote that he had seen the risen Christ (1 Corinthians 15:8). He knew that if Christ had risen from the dead then Jesus’ teachings, even if he had initially found them offensive, must be true.
Jesus’ resurrection changes everything. Through the resurrection Jesus is proclaimed to be the Son of God with power – not merely another victim of the ancient past. Jesus’ death on that ignoble Roman torture device is transformed into a sacrificial gift making it possible for God to forgive us and claim us as his people. The idea of eternal life is no longer a wishful fairy tale, but a living hope and an expectation. As Christians, our lives become infused with meaning and purpose as we seek to live for God’s glory. Jesus’ statements, such as there is no way to the Father but by me, did not originate from just some religious guru, but rather represent the shocking truth. Suddenly there is reason to live and die with conviction.
Just as those huge bronze doors stand because of a giant hinge, so too the Christian faith stands because on a Sunday morning long ago the tomb was empty. Christ had risen.