“‘It is concerning the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you today.’”
You are standing on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in a park containing the ruins of the ancient city of Caesarea. Even now the ruins are beautiful. But go back 2,000 years and look again. What you see around you is breathtaking. You see a bustling seaport with a superb artificial harbor. Individuals of every background are going to and fro. Vendors are everywhere. For entertainment, there are athletic contests, gladiator competitions, theater performances. And there are lots of people. Caesarea’s population at this time is an impressive 125,000.
It’s also a seat of government for the Roman Empire. Walk over to the hall where the Roman governor is hearing a case. Standing before him is a man who has endured some difficult days. The man’s name is Paul. Paul has been proclaiming the Good News of Jesus back in Jerusalem. But Jerusalem’s religious leaders so detest Paul and his message that they have him arrested. And now here Paul stands, before the Roman governor in Caesarea.
Paul’s accusers have just gotten done talking. They have cobbled together all kinds of accusations against Paul, trying to paint Paul in the worst possible light. But now it’s Paul’s turn. As he speaks before the governor, Paul walks through the accusations against him, neutralizing them one-by-one. But then he touches on the real reason he is in Caesarea today. In so many words, he acknowledges that he is on trial in Caesarea because Jesus Christ has risen from the dead.
2,000 years later, the great Caesarea lies in ruins. But some things remain the same. Christians still encounter pushback for what they proclaim. The Good News of Jesus is still a target, not just from a fallen world, but also from the devil and our own, old, fallen, sinful selves. And that’s all right. It’s all right because, through faith in Jesus, forgiveness is ours. Through faith in Jesus, heaven is ours. Through faith in Jesus, our lives now pulsate with meaning, purpose, joy. And this is so because Jesus has risen from the dead.
Lord Jesus, as I encounter consequences to your resurrection, move me to meet them with courage and joy. Amen.