EASTER is absolutely central to the Christian faith. Without the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the fact of the empty tomb there would be no Christianity, no Christians, no churches anywhere in the world. The New Testament reveals that it was the historical fact that Jesus rose from the dead which motivated the apostles to spread the Gospel message. They were prepared to face ridicule, persecution, even death, to fulfil the Great Commission (Matthew 28: 19).
DEATH CAME THROUGH SIN
But what was the purpose of the death and resurrection of Jesus? Why did He need to come to earth at all? If evolution is true, and human beings evolved from ape-like ancestors, death has been present all along, and is just as natural as being born. However, the Bible clearly teaches that God created human beings by a supernatural act, and that His original intention was that we should live for ever. It was when Adam and Eve sinned that they were told that they would “surely die.” That original sin has affected the whole human race. “Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.” (Romans 5: 12).
One of the most important New Testament passages on the resurrection is 2 Corinthians 15, where Paul begins by stressing the fact that the resurrection was witnessed by many people, some of whom were still living at the time. He then went on to explain the significance of that historical event. “Since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” (verses 21-22). Paul then refers to the return of Jesus at ”the end”, and says that “the last enemy to be destroyed is death.” (verse 26). If God created through evolution, meaning that death has always been present, Paul’s words are theological nonsense!
DEATH NOT GOD’S INTENTION
Some would object to the idea that humans would never have died if sin had not entered creation, believing the earth would have become overcrowded. Maybe the experience of the two Old Testament characters Enoch and Elijah provides a clue to what might have happened in a sinless world. Both of them were taken into heaven without dying (Genesis 5: 24 and 2 Kings 2: 11). If people had continued to live in unbroken fellowship with their Creator, would they have been taken into heaven in a similar way? We don’t know, but this does not alter the fact that physical death was not God’s intention. It is a cruel intruder, which brings heartbreak and pain. Jesus Himself wept at the tomb of his friend Lazarus.
Some Christians argue that the story of the Fall is symbolic, and that the death which resulted from Adam’s sin was only spiritual death. If this were the case, why would Jesus have to enter history as the “second Adam”, to die a physical death on the cross to save us from death, then to rise in victory, destroying this cruel intruder?
The creation-evolution controversy has everything to do with Easter!