To read more from Daniel, visit his blog: Sic Et Non.
Notes from a book that I picked up in England several years ago: Daniel Clark, Dead or Alive? The Truth and Relevance of Jesus’ Resurrection (Nottingham UK: Inter Varsity Press, 2007):
First of all, a fundamentally important point:
If Jesus’ life gives a strong indication that there is someone out there, and that he claimed to be God, it is his resurrection that substantiates his claim. Who can overcome death? No mere human can. (26)
If the Christian claim that Jesus rose from the dead is true, then our searching for ‘somebody out there’ can stop, because we will have irrefutable evidence that there is a God. More than that, Jesus teaches us definitively, and shows us clearly, what God is like. (30)
Secondly, picking up on that fundamentally important point in order to expand upon several other quite important things:
We don’t need to guess any more about whether God exists, because he has shown himself in Jesus. We don’t need to guess any more about what God is like, because in Jesus, we can see exactly what he’s like.
It’s worth exploring God’s character briefly, as we see it revealed in Jesus.
- On reading about Jesus’ dealings with the sick and bereaved in his day, we discover that God is immensely caring: on many occasions, Jesus was ‘deeply moved’, ‘filled with compassion’, or wept when confronted with hurting people.
- We find that God is interested in people no matter what their background or history. Jesus mixed with an extraordinary variety of people (prostitutes, farmers, tax-collectors and political leaders; party-goers and social recluses; Jews, Samaritans and Gentiles), and showed that he was willing to cross social, political, religious and racial boundaries. And although Jesus saw thousands of people as he travelled, he would frequently pick out individuals — those who tried to hide in a crowd as well as those who hid from the crowd — and meet them at their point of need.
- Jesus was particularly radical in his attitude towards women: in a society that viewed them as distinctly second-class, Jesus was not embarrassed to spend time with women and count them among his followers.
In all this, it’s clear from the vast crowds that followed Jesus wherever he went that he appealed to ordinary, everyday people. In fact, Jesus was very clear that his target audience wasn’t the religious people, it was those who thought themselves beyond the scope of organized religion. I know of one church that advertises itself as ‘A church for people who don’t go to church’: those are exactly the sort of people Jesus was, and is, after. (28-30)
As to the last paragraph, I can’t fully agree. In my view, the Lord clearly loves both religious and unreligious people; he values the former as much as he values the latter. But I get the point, and I’m sympathetic to it.