There is a reason that Jesus Christ, for bad or good, is still relevant in our modern world. An active belief in Christ is fundamental to all Christians and likewise an active disbelief in Christ is the foundation of many modern-day philosophies. But what is it that 2000 years after his death makes Jesus Christ so enduring?
Howard W. Hunter summed this up in his speech An Apostle’s Witness of the Resurrection when he contrasted Alexander the Great’s short life with that of Jesus Christ:
“Alexander the Great, King of Macedon, pupil of Aristotle, conqueror of most of the known world in his time, was one of the world’s great young leaders. After years of exercising military pomp and prowess and after extending his kingdom from Macedonia to Egypt and from Cyprus to India, he wept when there seemed to be no more world to conquer. Then as evidence of just how ephemeral power is, Alexander caught a fever and died at thirty-three years of age. The vast kingdom he had gained virtually died with him.
Quite a different young leader [Christ] also died at what seems such an untimely age of thirty-three. He likewise was a king, a pupil, and a conqueror. Yet he received no honors of man, achieved no territorial conquests, rose to no political station. So far as we know, he never held a sword nor wore a single piece of armor…His power was not of this world.”
If you were to ask who has had more influence on our culture over the last 2000 years, it would be Christ hands down. Alexander, while a fascinating historical figure, his accomplishments and their influence on our lives is barely felt, if at all, 2000 years later. As with most historical figures, like a Genghis Khan, like a Charlemagne, like a Napoleon, or like a Winston Churchill and so on their influence does not transcend time for very long. It might be felt for generation or two after their death but it wanes and their influence weakens over much time. But Christ’s influence is still felt keenly after 2000 years and influences lives of millions of people directly on a daily basis.
This is because when Christ’s life ended all of our lives took on a different meaning because it spoke to our immortal souls the possibility of eternity. It gave us hope in a what would have otherwise been a mean and meaningless Plutonian existence of bewitching, yet flittering pleasure and enduring misery, or what some would call an atheist’s paradise. It tells us we are more than just trousered apes and each of us has the divine spark that will to overcome. The Resurrection gives an eternal perspective to kindness, honesty, patience, friends, family, freedom, love, etc., freeing them from utilitarian shallowness. And it is the Resurrection that gives meaning to the injustice, pain, suffering, illness, ageing and we experience here on earth.
It is through Christ’s Resurrection that the stone walls and iron bars of Death were broken and Death is no longer our end nor our destiny, but our transcendent beginning. The Resurrection confirms and gives logic to what we all feel at the time of death of our loved ones that those warm and true bonds established here on earth extend eternally.
In Mark 16:6, Christ’s resurrection is simply described by the following words, “He is risen, he is not here.” As is often the case, it is those things expressed simply that have the most profound effect on us and nothing is more profound than the deep meaning of the resurrection on our lives. And the Resurrection’s profundity is a mystery and a truth worth pursuing in this lifetime.