“Can We Believe in the Resurrection?” sermon by Shiao Chong
Preached on April 19, 2020 for Fellowship CRC, Etobicoke; Text: John 20:1-10, 19-31
Many people today can probably relate to the apostle Thomas when faced with the claim that Jesus rose from the dead. Non-believers they will probably say, “Show me the proof! Show me empirical, scientific, measurable, and something that I can see, touch and know for certain that this is true then I’ll believe it! Otherwise, why should I believe you?” And I don’t blame them. When it is something as miraculous and as far-fetched as the physical, bodily resurrection, I don’t blame anyone if they are skeptical and would like some tangible proof.
And let’s face it – the resurrection of Jesus is something that is difficult to believe. Even the apostles, like Thomas, couldn’t believe it either. Ancient people back then knew as well as we do that dead people don’t come back to life.
So, do we have any proof that Jesus rose from the dead? Or have we been believing a fiction?
Today, I will give some rational reasons that support our belief in the resurrection. We may not have proofs beyond any doubt but we do have good rational reasons to believe in the resurrection. It is not irrational. For the sake of time, I will give you three reasons why I think the resurrection of Jesus was not made-up by the early Christians. Here are my three reasons:
This is a Palm Sunday sermon I delivered (in digitally pre-recorded slideshow video) for Fellowship Christian Reformed Church, Etobicoke, ON on April 5, 2020 during the COVID-19 global pandemic. Video is above, text is below.
Texts: Matt. 21:1-11; Zechariah 9:9-10; John 14:27
This Sunday is Palm Sunday. And we have often read our Matthew 21 passage during Palm Sunday to remember and celebrate Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem that marks, what we call, Holy Week, leading up to Good Friday and Easter.
Now, have you ever thought to yourself, “Why the donkey?” Why not a horse? When you think of a donkey, the first attributes that might come to mind are stubborn, or dumb, or even silly looking. You are probably not thinking of words like, beautiful or majestic. Those are adjectives more likely linked to horses rather than donkeys.
Therefore, it may surprise you – well, it surprised me at least – that a donkey in ancient times and in the Bible was a symbol of kingship and peace. A donkey was a staple of ancient Near Eastern royal ceremonies. For example, if you read in the Bible’s Old Testament 1 Kings 1:33-44, you will find there that Solomon rode on his father David’s mule to Gihon to be anointed king. There’s a connection there between kingship and the donkey or mule. Other non-Israelite or non-biblical ancient texts of the time also spoke of kings riding on donkeys for ceremonial entries or parades into cities. Donkeys, in the ancient eastern world, were symbols of royalty.
My apologies for not blogging for the last four to five months! Major transitions have happened in my life. It has been pretty busy, not to mention stressful, these past months! I am no longer a campus minister serving at York University, a role I served in for the past 15 years. Since August 2016, I am serving as the Editor in Chief of The Banner, the official magazine of the Christian Reformed Church in North America. Hence, a new chapter has begun in my life of following Jesus and serving his church and the world.
I wish to make it clear here that my transition was more about following Christ’s calling rather than finding greener pastures. This “career move” can easily be made to fit into the world’s narrative of success, as in constantly moving on to bigger and better. But I had always said that I go to (and stay) where I believe God is calling me. Success, in my understanding of Scripture, means, above all, faithfulness to Christ’s call, along with the missional kingdom fruitfulness (which includes, but not exclusive to the fruit of the Spirit, Gal. 5:22-23) born of that.Continue reading “Success through the Eyes of Faith”→
(This post was originally published as an article in The Banner, Feb, 2010)
Are you a perfectionist? Is your boss one? Perhaps you have a perfectionist parent or sibling? In any case, you probably know that perfectionists can be hard to please.
The pressure to be perfect is hard to escape. We live in a culture that demands, especially at work, things and products to be just right. Some of us, like me, also have perfectionist tendencies. When I try too hard and expect too much of myself—trying to write that perfect sermon or that perfect article—it can really slow me down or even paralyze me from doing what I can.
Perfectionism is a tough critic and master.
And how many of us expect perfection of our local church and/or worship experiences? How many of us expect perfection in our spiritual walk with God? Moreover, how many of us think that God expects perfection from us?
Jesus commands us in Matthew 5:48, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” That sounds impossible to live up to. What kind of perfection does Jesus expect from us? Are we doomed to failure and frustration?
To answer such questions, let’s first consider what biblical perfection is not. Then, digging deeper, let’s look at the Old Testament view of perfection, followed by the New Testament view and the Matthew text in particular. You may be surprised by what we find.
Perhaps we can put this story in better context, my current context, the Deep South. Imagine the Syrophoenician woman as an African-American woman who comes to Jesus, a white male, seeking to be healed. In response, Jesus dehumanizes her, calls her an animal, a female dog, a bitch, even! Maybe he goes further, criticizes her for seeking a medical handout and labels her a welfare queen. He asks her why the good things meant for whites only should be given to the sweet little n*****s.
If those slurs are too harsh, choose a different one: a House Negro, an Uncle Tom, an Oreo. Boy. Dominant, oppressive cultures have a long history of assuaging their own latent guilt with terms of endearment for those they are abusing.
Do these diminutive forms, even when they have been used affectionately by whites, soften the sting of raw racism in the words? Clearly not, and I don’t think Jesus’ diminutive case of “dog” in this text softens the bite of his own racism either.
So what are we to make of this exchange? … This, I think, is the great lesson of the Syrophoenician woman. It teaches us the dynamics of racism, of how even the best of humanity — the Incarnation himself — can get caught up in systems of oppression, in a culture of supremacy. As a good Jew, Jesus would have been reared to give thanks daily that he was born a Jew, not a Gentile, a man and not a woman. Jesus could not help but become entangled by such a sexist and racist snare.
Jesus, given his embedded culture, could not be colorblind. And neither can we.
This created a little stir among my Facebook friends, which was how I was alerted to the article in the first place. Was Jesus racist? My position is that, YES, Jesus was not colorblind (in the way that most people use the term in North America in relation to racism) – Jesus would acknowledge and affirm everyone’s ethnic and cultural backgrounds – God created them as such! BUT Jesus (and God) shows no partiality to any persons or groups or peoples (Deuteronomy 10:17; Luke 20:21).