I’ll date myself here, but I remember well a 1978 movie entitled, Capricorn One. It was based on a theory that had been floating around for some time that the Apollo moon landings were a hoax perpetrated by the U.S. government. In that film, a Mars landing is faked. The astronauts are forced to take part in the ruse and then flee for their lives when it becomes clear that a tragic ending to their mission will be faked as well to ensure no one ever discovered the truth- though their end would be truly tragic.
What if the Apollo moon landings had been faked? Would it have truly mattered to your life? I doubt it. What if Jesus’ resurrection was similarly faked or never even happened? What then?
The Apostle Paul tells us plainly in I Corinthians 15 that if Jesus had not literally, physically, been raised from the dead then our faith is useless. Christianity would come crashing down. Paul says in verses 16-17, “For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” (ESV)
Belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a non-negotiable. It’s a deal breaker. No resurrection means no gospel. Jesus’ death would have been meaningless. Over the centuries some have tried to explain away the resurrection or suggest that the Bible only teaches some kind of metaphorical resurrection. The Apostle Paul says nothing could be further from the truth. He even says in that same chapter that over 500 saw Jesus after His resurrection. He implies that his readers are welcome to search them out and ask them about it!
While we don’t have eye-witnesses today to ask in person, we DO have their reliable accounts of the resurrection in the New Testament. Those who were with Christ before and after His death, burial, and resurrection were men who were changed forever. Ten of the twelve Apostles died martyr’s deaths for their faith. Had they perpetrated a hoax or had doubts, these deaths would not have occurred. No one dies for what they know to be a lie.
As we celebrate the resurrection this Easter (and in a real sense we celebrate it every Lord’s Day) let’s be encouraged. We can face trial and disappointment knowing Jesus lives. His promises are true. His promised presence will always be with us. He sits now at the Father’s right hand.
We’re not living out Capricorn One. We’re living out of the reality of a truly risen Christ and that’s no hoax.