St Mary’s Church, Billingshurst

Friday, 18 April 2014

Vicar's Blog - April 2014

Good Friday is the day we remember and reflect on Jesus’ death on the cross. Death, let’s face it, is a ‘taboo’ topic. It’s something we try to ignore. We don’t admit to our mortality, we often don’t make preparations such as writing a Will or telling our family what we might like in our funeral service, and we are offended, affronted, hurt, and more, when death happens.

Most Christian funerals begin by quoting Jesus’ own words: “I am the resurrection and the life; those who believe in me, even though they die, will live.” These words were spoken by Jesus to Martha, as Jesus journeyed to the tomb of her brother and his friend, Lazarus. Then Jesus added: “Do you believe this?”

Easter Day is the event that changed the world. The hymns and songs we sing tell the story: ‘Jesus Christ is risen today’; ‘death is dead, love has won, Christ has conquered.’

Yet I come back to the question asked by Jesus: do you believe this? Do you believe in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus? Around the world, countless millions do believe – yet others struggle to believe. Some want to believe but can’t make the leap; some dismiss it all as irrelevant.

The evidence that Jesus lived and died is indisputable – and not just in the Bible. Proper analysis of the evidence for the resurrection points to one conclusion: it is true. And if it is true, then other questions arise, questions about our denying, ignoring, being affronted by, death. CS Lewis assessed the evidence for Christianity and said ‘Christianity is a statement which, if false, is of no importance and, if true, of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important.’

It’s a question which all of us have to address. Do we believe in what Jesus said? That those who believe in him will enjoy life beyond death, as we know it? We may choose to ignore the question – and in so doing, we have given our own answer to it. Because to choose not to choose is to choose.

The Christian belief, faith and hope is that the man, Jesus, died – he died to overcome the worst death ever imaginable, crucifixion – and he was raised to life on the third day, never to die again. He died that we might be forgiven; that our relationship with God, who is love, can be restored, forever. To those who believe this, believe in Jesus, eternal life is guaranteed.

Jesus said ‘I am the resurrection, and the life’. As he asked Martha, so I pose that question: do you believe this, the event that changed the world?