This is a letter to the editor in today's Elizabethton Star:
We can trust the Easter story. Dr. Josh McDowell was asked why he couldn't refute Christianity. He said, "For a very simple reason, I am unable to explain away an event in history -- the resurrection of Jesus."
We are confronted with historical facts:
(1) The giant stone was moved and the tomb was really empty; (2) Jesus appeared to and spoke with various individuals and groups including one group of over 500 people; (3) The Jewish leaders couldn't disprove the disciples' claim that Jesus had risen from the dead.
Knowing our Christian faith is based on solid historical facts of the empty tomb and the risen Jesus, we can celebrate the most glorious, important and life-changing morning in world history -- Easter!
And the let the people say, "Huh?"
For your Easter reading, I recommend
John Shelby Spong's Resurrection: Myth or Reality?
Using approaches from the Hebrew interpretive tradition to discern the actual events surrounding Jesus' death, Bishop Spong questions the historical validity of literal narratives concerning the Resurrection. He asserts that the resurrection story was born in an experience that opened the disciples' eyes to the reality of God and the meaning of Jesus of Nazareth.
Here is an essay from Bishop Spong, Easter: In Need of Reinterpretation!
When these biblical data are assembled and examined closely, two things become clear. First something of enormous power gripped the disciples following the crucifixion that transformed their lives. Second, it was some fifty years before that transforming experience was interpreted as the resuscitation of a three days dead Jesus to the life of the world. Our conversation about the meaning of Easter must begin where these two realities meet.
You might also be interested in this article by Thomas Sheehan, How Did Easter Originally Happen?
For Simon and the others, "resurrection" was simply one way of articulating their conviction that God had vindicated Jesus and was coming soon to dwell among this people. And this interpretation would have held true for the early believers even if an exhumation of Jesus' grave had discovered his rotting flesh and bones.
Or, if I may be so humble, you can read and/or hear two of my sermons on previous Easter Sundays.
Easter 2006 Seriously, If Not Literally Text Audio
Easter 2007 What If We Found the Body of Jesus? Text Audio