For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised then at least, moulded by his teaching, we’ll have lived better lives.
We’ll still have the story of his death to inspire us to sacrifice. We’ll still have his care for the outsider, the excluded and the poor, to make us nicer. And we’ll still have the metaphor of his rising to encourage us that things really do get better.
In fact if Christ has not been raised many of us will notice no significant effect upon our faith.
For what the Apostle Paul really wrote see: 1 Corinthians 15.12-33
“Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”
“Did you get his name?” replied Jesus, “Let’s google him…wait has this place got wifi?”
“Has he got twitter?” someone asked.
“I found a blog” shouted Matthew.
“Is he evangelical?” asked John.
“What does that even mean nowadays John” said James.
“Ok then, is he complementarian?” asked John.
“Does his church sing Getty or Bethel?”
“What’s his view on N T Wright?”
“Is he emerging?”
“Ok, ok” said Jesus, loudly.
“To be on the safe side, let’s issue a press release distancing ourselves. The usual thing please Matthew; say he isn’t part of a ‘Gospel’ church.”
Based on Mark 9.38-41
…Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Thomas replied, “wow Lord, that’s a bold statement! How can you be so sure?”
“What if in the future they discover that there are many other ways; ones that you don’t know about? After all, we can only have a limited view. What if they discover that some people believe in many Gods?”
“You mean like the Romans do?” answered Jesus.
“Well yes there’s the Romans, but I was thinking about people more sophisticated than that. Maybe, people living far in the future will know more about God than you?”
“I hadn’t really considered that” answered Jesus. Do you think it’s possible I’m mistaken? Have I been a little naive thinking that I could embody God’s definitive message to the world?”
“It’s possible” replied Thomas.
“Oh dear” said Jesus. “That’s a little hard to take. I’ve been working on the assumption that my Father really was the one true God.”
“And well he may be. How can we truly know?” said Thomas.
“What do the Scriptures say Lord?” said John, joining the discussion.
“Ah, the Scriptures, there’s a whole new set of problems” said Thomas.
He continued, “what if they’re not all the actual word of God? I mean, what if only some of the Scriptures provide good spiritual guidance. What if they’re more like an almanac of human reflection on the divine?”
Jesus groaned, “you mean I can’t trust the Scriptures either?”
“Oh Jesus, don’t be such a literalist! Of course you can trust them! You can trust them like an old friend. They’re the culmination of years of tradition and meditation.”
“But I’ve always thought God spoke in the Scriptures” replied Jesus.
“Of course “God” “speaks” in them, John said, while doing air quotes with his fingers. But that doesn’t mean “God” doesn’t speak elsewhere. It’s a little arrogant for us to think we have the monopoly on truth.”
Jesus looked concerned. “Maybe I’m not the way” he whispered. “Maybe I’m not the way. Maybe this is all wrong!”
Jesus stood, clearly shaken. He was speaking under his breath. And then he slumped to the floor, kneeling in the dirt. “All the sacrifice, all the promises, all the effort for nothing. I’m not the way. I’m possibly just one of many ways. Or may be I’m nothing at all.”
“This has all been pointless.”
“Oh no Lord”, said Thomas, “don’t overreact. I never said you’re not the way. It’s just impossible to really know. We need to remain at least a little agnostic.”
And then a thin, cold voice cut through. “Lord, of course this has not been pointless. Even if you’re not the unique Christ; you’ve changed many lives for the better. You’ve shown people a better way. You’ve made us all better, kinder and nicer. You’ve helped us discover the divine in us all.”
“Judas makes a good point” said Thomas.
The actually text can be found here: John 14.6
Jesus once told a story something like this…
Two men went to pray.
The first walked to the front of church and glanced back at the other man, saying to God, “thank you that I am not like other people – charismatics, those who do ‘alpha’, or ordain women. I go to two services on Sundays, and attend the prayer meeting. I only listen to expository preaching and of no less than forty minutes duration.”
The second man stood at the back. He did not raise his head, but awkwardly looked at his feet. “God have mercy on me a sinner” he said.
For the real story: Luke 18.10-14
Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. He saw two men in a boat. It was local fishermen, Simon and his brother Andrew. Jesus called to them, “come and follow me.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him.
They walked further along the lake and soon arrived where three more men were fishing. On the side of the boat was written ‘Zebedee and Sons.’ “Come and follow me” Jesus shouted to James and John, Zebedee’s sons.
“You go James” said John,
“I’m in the middle of ‘House of Cards’ on Netflix and I’m not sure I can commit to anything else at the moment.”
For the real story see: Matthew 4:18-22
Jesus entered Jericho and met a man named Zacchaeus. When I say met; Zacchaeus nearly fell out of a tree in an effort to see Jesus. Having made introductions Jesus invited himself to eat at Zacchaeus’ home. This was no small undertaking, as Jesus never traveled without his entourage of apostles, disciples and supporters. Thankfully Zacchaeus was rich.
As Jesus, Zacchaeus and the rest of the crowd reached Zacchaeus’ house, they came across a group of John the Baptist’s followers. They had set up a table with a large banner across the front. It read, ‘Tax Collectors welcome!’ They were serving tea and coffee and offering advice on how to make amends by giving back ill-gotten gains. Zacchaeus pointed over, “look Jesus, that’s where I got the idea to give back to everyone I’d stolen from.”
“Very good! Why don’t we invite them to join us too?” said Jesus. “Great idea!” said Zacchaeus. Jesus approached the table. “Coffee?” asked one of John’s disciples. “No thanks, I’m trying to cut down,” said Jesus. “But would you like to join us for dinner? We’re going to Zacchaeus’ house.”
John’s disciples looked at their feet and shuffled. “Thanks for the offer” said one. “But we’d better stay here. We’ve got a few more hours to go and…there might be alcohol and…we eat quite a restricted diet and…” Another of John’s disciples butted in, “What he’s trying to say Jesus is that we’d rather not, if you don’t mind. We don’t actually eat with tax collectors, we prefer to stay out here and serve them coffee and offer advice.”
“I see” said Jesus, waving, then walking through the gates with Zacchaeus.
An Angel said to Philip, go to the Gaza road. So he did just that.
On the way he met an Ethiopian man, who looked important and wealthy. The man was on his way home from worshiping at the Temple in Jerusalem. He was reading the Scriptures from the book of Isaiah.
Philip heard what the Ethiopian was reading, because the man, thinking no one else was listening, was reading aloud.
“Do you understand what you’re reading?” asked Philip. And soon the men were talking about Jesus and everything that had happened in Jerusalem.
As they continued along the road, they passed a small stream. The Ethiopian turned to Philip, “listen, why don’t I just get baptised right now?” he said.
Philip replied, “Um, well, I’m afraid, I eh, I can’t do that. I’ve not done the right training. And I’ve not been ordained to do that, I’m just ordained to catering.”
The Ethiopian continued on his way disillusioned with early church structures.
For the real story see: Acts 8:26-40