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Religion | ON FAITH / The Rev. ROBERT H. SCHULLER

Easter Mystery a Force for Faith

April 03, 1999|ROBERT H. SCHULLER

For me, Easter means life's ultimate questions are answered at last with a dramatic "Yes!"

Life's ultimate questions:

* Is there a God? The Easter answer--Yes!

* Is life eternal? The Easter answer--Yes!

* Is there a heaven? The Easter answer--Yes!

* Is there a hell? The Easter answer--Yes!

* Can I be assured where I'm going? The Easter answer--Yes! To be with Jesus, my Lord and Savior.

* Is God alive now? The Easter answer--Yes!

Albert Einstein, the brilliant physicist, said "There are only two ways to live: Live as if nothing is a miracle, or live as if everything is a miracle." To Einstein, everything was a miracle.

Easter challenges us to choose to live and to believe in miracles.

When you deal with facts, you become knowledgeable. When you deal with mysteries, with miracles . . . you develop faith.

Let's look at the facts concerning the death and resurrection of Christ, and the miracle of Easter these facts reveal.

Fact No. 1: A person named Jesus of Nazareth lived and died. It is a historical fact, documented by secular writings and journals, that a man named Jesus of Nazareth lived and died. His existence on earth is not a mystery. He was born in Bethlehem, lived in Nazareth and died on the cross. That is a fact that no one can argue with.

Fact No. 2: Jesus was tried by Pilate. It is a historical fact that Jesus stood before Pilate. It is a fact that there was a man named Pilate at that period of time. His own private seat in the Caesarean Amphitheater has been excavated. His name is carved in marble.

Fact No. 3: Jesus was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the high council called the Sanhedrin. It is a fact that a 2-ton stone was put in front of the tomb so that nobody could steal the body. It is fact that a Roman guard was put before the tomb, 12 soldiers who were under oath and subject to death if they fell asleep or deserted their post.

Fact No. 4: Jesus was deserted by his followers. His disciples got cold feet, they were scared stiff, they chickened out, they ran away just as soon as Judas exposed them to the Roman soldiers. No one was ever abandoned by his total company and following more than Jesus was.

Fact No. 5: The tomb was empty. It is a fact that women who started the embalming process, but stopped to honor the Sabbath, came back on Monday morning to finish the process. They did not know how they were going to get in. But it is a fact that when they got there the stone was rolled away. They walked into the tomb and it was empty! The body was gone!

The mystery is, what happened to the body? The Bible says Jesus was seen by his followers alive--walking around and talking to them! The same followers who fled for their lives now saw him and talked to him. They were more convinced than ever that he was who he claimed to be--the Son of God!

That is the story of Easter. Historical documents substantiate the beliefs of Christianity. Our beliefs are not based on fables, or fairy tales, they are based on facts. However, we do not have all the answers. Belief is choosing faith even when you cannot prove it. Belief is trusting even when you cannot get answers. Belief is falling in love even though you cannot guarantee that your love will be returned.

Belief--there is no better time to find it than on Easter morning, when we celebrate the fact that God, who started this universe millions of years ago, became a human being. He died and rose again to prove to the human family once and for all the reality of life and death, heaven and hell, eternity. We look at the facts, but we are faced with a mystery, so we are challenged to become believers.

Easter is our celebration of the miracle that assures me, and can assure you, of life everlasting. Easter is man's highest hallelujah and it is God's loudest amen!

*

The Rev. Schuller will lead Easter services at 6, 8, 9, 10 and 11 a.m., noon and 1 p.m. at the Crystal Cathedral, 12141 Lewis St., Garden Grove. (714) 971-4000.

On Faith is a forum for Orange County clergy and others to offer their views on religious topics of general interest. Submissions, which will be published at the discretion of The Times and are subject to editing, should be delivered to Orange County religion page editor Jack Robinson.

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