Even among Christians there are differing interpretations of Jesus and of his resurrection. Some have emphasized the Easter experience of the disciples or the Easter faith. They would argue that whether or not the tomb was found empty is not important. The important thing is whether or not we can live lives of hope and faith as did the early disciples. Others have emphasized the Easter event. They contend that what actually happened that first Easter is of supreme importance. The latter group emphasizes the objective reality of the Resurrection. The first group emphasizes the subjective experience of the Resurrection.
I would argue that to choose between the two is a false choice. Both are absolutely necessary. When individuals speak of the "disciples’ experience," we must always ask, "experience of what?" The subjective and objective cannot be divorced from one another.
I very much believe in the historical fact of the resurrection of Jesus. I stand with the apostle Paul when he wrote: "...if Christ has not been raised from death, then we have nothing to preach and you have nothing to believe. More than that, we are shown to be lying about God..." (I Cor. 15:14-15) This preaching of Christ’s real and complete victory over death was of supreme importance to the early Christians. Ernst Bloch, the late German Marxist philosopher, wrote: "It wasn’t the morality of the Sermon on the Mount which enabled Christianity to conquer Roman paganism, but the belief that Jesus had been raised from the dead."
Of course, to contend for the historicity of the Easter event is not enough either. One must have the Easter experience, the personal resurrection within. No doubt Satan believes in the Easter event, but she (in an effort to be gender neutral) has not had the Easter experience. If the Easter event has had no effect upon the way you live your life, it really makes no difference whether it happened or not.
©1996 C. David Hess