Matthew 28:1-15; Mark 16:1-13; Luke 24: 1-12; John 11:25; 20:24-29
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" John 11:25
What is Easter all about ?
The Resurrection is the heart of Christianity, the ultimate climax that has come for the Church and for the Christian! It gives us our eternal life, hope for the future, and effectual life for today. It encompasses all of our Lord's life and mission and the incredible undeserved miracle of our redemption! The history of humanity, our fallen state, the move of our Lord through time and history and our lives were interwoven to the finishing point. Jesus Christ lived on our behalf. He has died in our places to absorb God's wrath and pay our debt of sin; Easter, the Resurrection , tells how He rises back to life, conquering death, and giving us new life by His victory and the product of grace for a life of fulfillment and fullness!
Easter is the celebration of the accomplished Gospel! The Gospel is the ultimate Message, the ultimate good news that is wrapped up in this happening, the wonder of the universe-the incredible impossible and the incredible triumph. This is the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and this means that Jesus was crucified; He died, and was buried and He rises, conquering death to give us life (Psalm 16:11; 107:09; Isa. 26:3; John 14:21; Gal. 5:16; 22-23; 1 John 1:7-9; 3 John 4).
It all started at an empty tomb on the outskirts of Jerusalem on an early Sunday morning nearly two thousand years ago. The women went back to the burial place to finish the death preparations of Jesus because they were unable to do so earlier due to the Passover. The Passover Sabbath went from Friday at sundown to Saturday evening. Thus, they had to wait to go to the tomb until Sunday morning. Their grief would have lasted for at least seven days, according to custom. It was radical, then, that the first ones to see Jesus arisen were the women. This is very important because in this time and culture, a woman's testimony was irrelevant. Jesus is validating women-their personhood, contribution, and worth! He counteracts the cultural norm here to make His point. To reveal Himself to the women shows that He is the One that is significant, not our traditions or beliefs. However, it will take several centuries for this reality to set in as far as the church is concerned (Luke 24:1; John 19:42; Rom. 12:1; Eph. 5:22-33; Col. 2:16-23; Heb. 12:28).
When they came upon the tomb with eager devotion, the stone was already rolled away and the chamber, where Jesus' body was supposed to be, was empty. The significance is that this is the reason why we worship Jesus on Sunday and not Saturday, although as Paul states later, day and time is not as important as having our hearts and minds focused upon Him. Mary and the other ladies were confused and perplexed. What happened? Did the Romans take Him? Did the Scribes do something heinous to His body? In the midst of their questioning minds, an angel suddenly appeared, striking fear and awe in them. The angel told the women that Jesus has risen; the women were to go back to Galilee and tell the disciples. The religious leaders were stunned. They quickly tried to spin the situation to their favor by bribing the soldiers to tell lies saying the disciples stole the body. The lies did not stand. Jesus appeared, and He eliminated all doubts, speculations, and questions. He gave the final marching orders for the purpose and reason of the Christian life-to know Jesus and make Him known (Rom. 14:5-6; Col. 2:16-17)!
Why is the Resurrection so Important?
If Jesus is just a dead man, just someone who was a great teacher who lived and then died two thousand years ago, then what is Church and this Christianity all about? Without a Resurrection, we have no proof of life and Lordship of Jesus; our faith, preaching and life is all in vain! Church and Christianity is meaningless (as is anything to do with faith) and becomes worthless. When life is over, it is over; from dust we came, to dust we go, and life itself is vain and meaningless. However, if Jesus is as He says, the risen LORD Christ, then we not only have life for eternity, we have a life of worth we can live now, too!
Thank God for His Son and for the Truth! Jesus has risen from death! Early on a Sunday morning nearly two thousand years ago, Jesus defied the laws of science, nature, and reason, moving from being completely dead to being completely regenerated and resurrected, proving He is indeed LORD over life and death and offering us hope for today and everlasting life for tomorrow. Mary Magdalene was the first to witness this; at first, she did not understand what was going on. She found the stone rolled away and the tomb empty, so she ran to tell Peter and John. She exclaimed, "They have taken the Lord's body; I do not know where He is!" Peter and John ran to see. John went to the threshold and saw for himself; both went in and saw that the burial linens were left but Christ was gone.
What was seen is the impossible, the perplexing; yet, observing that the linens were neatly folded, the realization came that the Scriptures were being fulfilled! While Mary was outside the tomb, two angels asked her why she was crying. All she could think of was to ask where Jesus' body was. She did not recognize the veracity of the situation because she was consumed with grief and uncertainty. At this time, as Jesus made His first resurrected appearance, she still did not recognize Him or understand what was going on. Jesus asked her why she was crying and for whom she looked. Thinking this was a gardener, blinded by anguish, skepticism, and tears and probably not even looking at Him, all Jesus needed to do was call her by name: Mary! He then asked her to go and tell the others, and so she did: I have seen the risen Lord John 20:1-21:14)!
Friday's death has passed and Sunday has come! He arises to life, conquers death, and gives us victory and grace for a life of fulfillment and fullness. The incredible victory is that Jesus was crucified; He died, was buried, and now He is back to life-- arisen!
The reaction to this is that of being o verjoyed, glad, delighted, exultant, ecstatic--so very excited for who Christ is and what He has done for us. The Resurrection becomes the motivation , allowing us to be giving great joy and gratitude through our commitment to God and, in context, the courage to witness. This joy means our faith and fruit will overflow from us to others around us! This joy grows in us as we mature in the faith and as we are filled with His Word. This joy is the power to enjoy Him in worship and in lifestyle for His service and glory that affects all aspects of our lives, as well as the lives of those who surround us. Because of Christ, His Word will bring us joy. (Ruth 3:2-7; Isa. 9:3; Neh. 8:10; Eccl. 2:18; Matt. 24:21-22, 30; Luke 15:7-10, 32; 17:30; John 14:16-26; 16:12-15; 17:17; Acts 28:16-30; Rom. 13:11-14; 1 Cor. 7:29; 2 Cor. 2:15-16; 4:7-12; Eph. 1:13-14; 6:16; 4:30; Phil. 2:12-13; Col. 3:15-16; James 1:2; 1 Pet. 5:8-9).
The After Glow of the Resurrection
After Jesus arose from death, He went into a show-and-tell mode! He presented proof of who He is and what He came to do; He told His followers to go and tell the Good News to others. But, the Disciples were afraid of the Jewish leaders who had ordered Jesus' death and who now were out for them. They hid in a locked room so no one could get at them as they considered what they would do next. Suddenly, Jesus stood before them. He showed them His wounds to prove He was fully alive and not a ghost. The room was filled with an abundance of great joy: The Lord is here! He is risen indeed! Halleluiah!
What was seen could not be fully comprehended by many, so some doubted. The magnitude of Jesus' resurrection was beyond mere comprehension; without seeing it for themselves, as Thomas asked for and received, many refused to believe. Others truly believed by faith and worshipped Him. For us, although we do not have Jesus physically showing us His hands and feet, we do have the Spirit that reveals the truth to us. Jesus said, blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed . Jesus did not fit the expectations of the people, the religious leaders, or the disciples. A total change in worldview had to occur before He could be accepted fully. Keep in mind Jesus spent three years preparing his Disciples for the event. We have to be careful that we do not jump to conclusions with little more information than our feelings and a "sound byte." Know this: our opponents will see our hypocrisy and lack of Fruit and faith (real or not), and they will recognize over-compensation for a misguided theology out of the rubble of our pride or lack of explanation. ( John 20:26-29; Phil. 3:1-14).
Jesus then said Peace be with you! As the Father sent me, now I send you to continue the work. He then breathed into them His Successor, the preeminence and permanence of the Holy Spirit, and asked them to do to others as He has done to them: show the world the Gospel and forgive! Thomas was not there, and he could not wrap his mind around all that had happened; therefore, did not believe. This is curious since Thomas saw Jesus raise others, like Lazarus, from the dead, but he did no believe this most important truth. So, Jesus came back and showed Thomas His wounds; Thomas was able to physically see and touch Jesus. He then believed! Jesus told him, you only believe because you saw firsthand; blessed are those who believe even though they have not seen! Jesus did many more signs and wonders so that all might believe that Jesus is indeed the Messiah, the Son of God, Lord and Savior and have hope for today and life for eternity!
Do you realize we have Him inside of us here and now! We have grace, forgiveness, and a personal relationship with God the Creator and Savior. We have life and purpose, meaning and hope! We are indeed fortunate to have this, and we have this by no work or effort of our own. What are we doing with Christ in us so He is shown outside of us? Go, and be trusting of His wonder, faithful to His plan and percepts, and know Him more, grow in Him more, and make Him known more (2 Cor. 5:20; Eph. 2:8-9; 2 Tim. 1:9-10)!
What Jesus did for the Resurrection
Earlier in the Matthew passage, we are told about the greatest agony a human could ever undergo; that Jesus endured, not just the physical agony, also was to be separated from the Father for the first and only time in eternity. God cannot look upon nor be touched by sin, and Jesus bore it all-every sin that had been committed, was being committed, and would ever be committed. Jesus had been hanging on that cross for hours with a lacerated, bruised, and beaten body that was twisting, cramping, convulsing, and struggling with every breath (Matt. 27: 45- 66).
His agony turned into victory and became our triumph! Do you fully realize what Jesus did for you? Christ took this punishment for us, our fears (as in scared to death, not fear as in reverence to Him) borne on the cross while the fear and awe of our Lord and Savior helps see what He did for us (Prov. 3:5)! Every time we sin, we incur greater guilt, and we deserve punishment (Gen. 3:1-24; Jer. 17:9; Rom. 2:1-11; 3:10-26; 5:12-19; Titus 1:15; James 1:12-15; I John 1:8-10). But, the incredible miracle here is that we are set free by His work of on the cross (Rom. 5:10; 6:22). By His death and coming resurrection, we are set free; we have salvation by Jesus' sacrificial death (John 19:30). How now will you live your life?
Jesus' resurrection meant He overcame His dead body and was transformed back to life. Lazarus was also raised, but Jesus, in this context, was proving His divinity (John 10:17-18; Acts 13:30-35; Rom. 1:4; 1 Cor. 15:50-54; Phil. 3:21; Heb. 7:16-24).
Can there be Christianity without the Resurrection? No! Without the resurrection, we would not have Christianity, and we would not have salvation by faith through grace. We would have no salvation, no connection to God, no remission from sins, no purpose for life, no hope, no reason for living, and no reason to for evangelism, discipleship, or missions or any other kind of ministry-all would be futile and meaningless. Without the resurrection, we would have no reason to meet for worship or have a Church, as we would have no message or meaning or ministry; all we would have is futility, a life of emptiness, vanity, and senselessness. We would just have some great rules and precepts to live by. We would just be another group with some sort of religious guideline (1 Cor. 15:1-19)!
A former Buddhist once told me why he converted to Christianity. I was at a turn in the road; who do I follow; the man who is dead or the man who is alive? I chose the One who is alive! A dead man, no matter how good and great, cannot save anybody. Buddha has saved no one! The difference is with the Resurrection; we are transformed, and saved for eternity--not just for here and now (John 10:4; 16:10; 2 Cor. 5:20). We are not called to save souls. That is the role of the Holy Spirit. Rather, we are called to help the "soul bearers" to learn and grow (Rom. 4:25; 14:8; 1 Cor. 15:13-14; 2 Cor. 5:20-21; Phil 1:23; 2:6-11; 3:10-14)!
Jesus is the Victor who overcome the world! God is our triumph even in the midst of suffering! Jesus, at this time, would endure a real separation from God to take on our sins and in so doing would cheat death, defeat Satan and evil, and give us hope and salvation. This is the dramatic, final victory of the Gospel: the Messiah is here, He saved the day, and He saved us. Let us be grateful and reverent in Him, for there is no fear or worry; our biggest problem has been solved--our sin is removed from God's sight (Matt. 12:25-29).
Jesus is the Resurrection and Life!
In John 11:20-37, the Disciples were given a glimpse of Who and What Jesus is and will do. Jesus' best friend had died, resulting in chaos and confusion as to how and why this had happened. Jesus already is known as a miracle worker, whom people had sought after for healing and miracles. Thus, if Jesus healed and raised others, why did He allow Lazarus to die? Lazarus was no stranger; in fact, this was Jesus' best childhood friend. This did not make sense and it set up major spiritual confusion and crisis of faith! This also allowed the Disciples a glimpse of what would happen soon after-the Resurrection will impact all of creation more than any event more than any other event in creation.
Martha and Mary sent word to Jesus, who already knew Lazarus died. When Jesus came, Martha desperately ran out to meet Jesus as He came, while Mary stayed at home, grieving. Keep in mind that, both of these women would be the first to meet the risen Lord not to long after this event. Martha asked in anguish, Lord if you had been here, my brother would not have died; but I trust you and know God will give whatever you ask. Jesus replied, do not worry; your brother will rise again. I know, Martha said, at the resurrection day. Jesus then spoke to her the emphatic, all-powerful statement; I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in Me will always live, even when they are dead; these people will have everlasting life! Do you believe this Martha? Yes, replied Martha, absolutely I do; I know you are the Messiah from God. Then she rushed off to tell Mary. Mary was having a tough time with this. People were trying to console her; when Jesus came, she fell on her knees and said, why, Lord if you had been here... then Jesus wept too and asked were Lazarus' body was. All of them saw how much Jesus loved this family, but they could not understand why Lazarus had died; if He could heal others, why not heal His best friend and keep these sisters from such grief?
The Resurrection f rom Martha's perspective was a life after death statement, because Lazarus was beyond help. She referred to a belief shared by both Judaism and Christianity that our lives here on earth are just the beginning of what is to come in eternity. Our corporeal physicality is temporary; our souls are permanent. The theme of "resurrection" is our hope for today, because we are with and in Christ; our "being" is made for eternity. The Sadducees were the liberals of the day and did not believe in an after-life, while the Pharisees did. I find it peculiar that some liberal commentators state that none of the Jews believed in an afterlife. This would mean they are willfully ignorant of Hebrew and the culture or Scripture, in this passage, Last day meant 'the after-life' (Matt. 22:23), (Isa. 65:20; Dan. 7:14-18; Amos 5:18; Matt. 19:28-30; 25:14-30; John 5:24-29; 11:25; 1 Cor. 15:51-57; 2 Cor. 4:14; 5:8; Phil. 1:23; 3; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; 5:1-3; Rev. 6:9-10).
What does the Resurrection mean? It means life! It means Hope! It proves His case, teachings and claims that our Lord is who He is all true. He is the God who is here, who lovingly condescends to us, communicates His love and plan as LORD, Savior, Judge, God, Creator, Redeemer, who proves to be our rest for our hope, faith, trust, service and obedience. He solves our most major problem-sin--and appeases God's just wrath for our sin that our judgment is justified and grace is undeserving on our part. He gives us our eternal life and real life for today. He gives us personal and collective power, hope for living, and purpose for life here and now (John 5:22-29; 6:40; Acts 16:31; 17:31; Rom. 1:4; 4:25; 10:9; 1 Cor. 15:14-23, 45; 2 Cor. 4:14; Eph. 1:19-21; 1 Thess. 4:14).
Jesus said in John 11, I am the resurrection . His resurrection meant He overcame His dead body and was transformed back to life. This event that we celebrate with bunnies and eggs to mean 'new life' as Easter is the proof and power of the Gospel. Lazarus was raised; Jesus, in this context, was proving His divinity. The resurrection was the proof that God accepted Christ's redemption in our place (John 10:17-18; 11:25; 14:6; Acts 13: 5, 30-35; Rom. 1:4; 1 Cor. 15:17, 50-54; Phil. 3:21; Heb. 7:16-24).
Jesus said that He is the life, m eaning that He is the source of life, and is not only the Messiah, but the very One True God. The sisters, Mary and Martha, started to recognize His deity, and they had to trust and obey Him--just as we are to respond with belief, trust and obedience for a fruitful and faithful lives. Being Christian must raise our character and Fruit of the Spirit so we are joyful and productive with our new life and faith; if this is not present, life if meaningless (John 1:7-14; 14:6; 20:8-9; Acts 3:15; Heb. 7:16; Rev. 8:8).
Jesus said, believes in me, m eaning Christ is Sovereign, the highest in all creation, and the greatest of all who ever existed, and He is raised from the dead. Jesus gives us His life, blood and new life in Him that we can enjoy now and for eternity. Christ's resurrection marked the inauguration of the covenant of grace (Acts 2:29-36; 13:32-35; Rom. 8:29; 1 Cor. 15:20-28; 2 Cor. 5:17 Col. 3:10; Phil. 2:8-11; Heb. 1:6; 12:23; Rev. 1:17-18).
Jesus said, as a result that we will live . Christ is our living Hope that will never fade away! This gives us the confidence and conviction that our loving and living God keeps His promises and secures us in Him. It is the assurance and fact that God has redeemed us, will bless us, and will care for us. This also means that death will not triumph over those in Christ (1 Cor. 15:54-57; 1 Peter 1:13, 21; 3:15). This also shows that this is the greatest miracle. Other people who were raised from the dead (2 Kings 4:35; Luke 7:15; John 11:44; Acts 9:36-41; 20:7-11) would one day die again.
Jesus said that our response is, Believes . What matters most to God is not just our mere belief, as in our ideas of God or that He exists, but that our belief is the basis for our conviction; our belief becomes our trust, our faithfulness in Him leads to our obedience for which we are rewarded.
Jesus said what we will receive is to never die . Jesus takes our sins, bears them, and covers them from God's wrath by His work on the cross! This is called atonement. We are justified and saved by Him and Him alone; no work on our part contributes to it. This is what gives us our salvation. We only respond, out of our gratitude, to do good (Lev. 17:11; Job 15:14-16; Psalm 5:4-6; Isa. 53:4-12; 64:6; Jer. 44:4; Hab. 1:13; Matt. 27:37; Luke 22:37; John 2:2; 4:10; Rom.10: 2-3; Gal. 3:13; 4:4; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14-22; 2:14; Heb. 2:17; 9:11-15, 28; Rev. 1:5).
Jesus said that the question that will echo into eternity is this: do you believe this? Having a real confession of faith is not just a statement; rather, it is a decision to take hold of Jesus' leading and election and make it real in our lives so we spill over and glow to others about Him. The Spirit's illumination is the only way we can know who Christ is. Keep in mind that our allegiance is not to a guru, spiritual shaman, or a religious leader with a shallow charismatic personality; rather, we belong to and adhere to The Christ--the anointed One, Messiah, who comes to save the lost. This is to be our personal conviction, our confession of faith that Jesus is the True Messiah. When we understand faith, who Christ is, and what He has done for us, we will be able to have more trust in what He is doing, even when we cannot see or feel it. This will also produce our gratefulness, fruitfulness, and obedience so we will live a more transformed life. Once this happens, the result will be more faith, better relationships, more impact, and we will be of more use to Christ (Matt. 16:16; John 4:27-45; 6:46-49).
Our Response to the Resurrection
The question to us and all of humanity is do you believe this? We have the great comfort that the God of the universe, our Creator and Lord, knows us, loves us, and will be with us! So, what do you say? Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. Jesus has defeated the powers of death. Jesus turns our sorrow into dancing. Jesus has the words of eternal life - Alleluia! So say we all!
We have Life Now!
Think about those times of trouble and stress. How is Jesus your source, substance, and Truth in the good and bad times? How must He be for you to not just survive, but to thrive? We have to reach out to Him; let Christ grasp you so you do not see just the sea of problems and the ocean of deluge overtaking the ship of your faith and composure in Him. Yes, this is tough; we all deal with this--certainly I do, even now... When times are confusing and we can't see where we are going or where God wants us, something to consider and pray about is this: God is far more concerned about how we are than what we do or where we go. Our lives are a process and a journey. Our Lord's mission is to transform our hearts and minds, the very core of who we are, so that we can live in the Kingdom of God--a Kingdom with His values and purpose, regardless of any opposition we might have, including the opposition others give us. We especially need Christ in the dire times of life--the times when we have the best opportunities to learn and grow. Usually, it is our own opposition that hinders us the greatest and is evidenced by our fears and neglect or lack of active faith.
Jesus is risen-He is risen indeed-Hallelujah!
Jesus has all authority! He proved this by not only being God, but by being willing to come as a man to this earth and live the life we could not, nor would not do. He overcame our sins and our enemies (John 12:31; 16:33; Rom. 6:1-7; Rev. 1:17-18)! He kept His promise that He made to Adam to redeem us, and then He sent the Comforter to lead us on (Acts. 1:3; 2:24-35; 3:15; 4:10; 5:30-32; 13:33-37)! Jesus is risen. This means He conquered death (Acts 2:24; Rom. 1:4; 1 Cor. 15:50-58). We, too, in Him, will undergo a similar transformation, as we live for Him, forgive in His name, are justified (Rom. 4:25; 1 Cor. 15:17), and will arise in eternity (John 11:25-26; Rom. 6; Eph. 1:18-2:10; Col. 2:9-15; 3:1-4; 1 Thess. 4:14-18; 1 Pet. 1:3).
The great comfort we have is that the God of the universe, our Creator and Lord, knows us, loves us, and will be with us! This also refers to Jesus being fully God. One of Jesus' names is Immanuel, which means "God is with us (Matt. 1:23)."
The p eople, then, as well as now, were confused about the end times and wondered if this was the end of an age or a new beginning. Jesus did not fit the expectations of the religious leaders or of His disciples. The religious leaders rejected Him. The remaining disciples had to surrender their will to His in order to know who He was and what He was doing in them (John 3:30). We cannot make disciples of others until first we, ourselves, become disciples of Jesus (2 Pet. 1:13)! The disciples bore witness to His call to make disciples of all nations; they were His witnesses and His messengers. What will you do about this today ( Acts. 1: 22; 4:2, 10, 33; 2 Cor. 5:20 )?
The key to implement the Resurrection into our hearts and lives is to realize who Jesus is-and His authority! We have God who loves and cares for us! We have a lives worth living! W hen we have acknowledged His authority, we can allow His work in us. He can use us in the lives of others; the opportunities and potential are limitless. If you are committed to your beliefs and refuse to allow the Holy Spirit to convict you, you will remain in your sins and unsaved! Conversely, in Christ, we are building faith and character in us now that echoes into eternity as it touches so many countless lives (Luke 10:17-20; John 15:7; Acts 20:24)!
With the Resurrection w e have Life after Death
The ultimate victory has come: Jesus is risen; He is risen indeed! Halleluiah! Christ's agony and death are now turned into victory--our ultimate triumph! Do you fully realize what Jesus did for you? Christ took this punishment for us; our fears (as in scared to death, not fear as in reverence to Him) have been borne on the cross, while the fear and awe of our Lord and Savior helps us see what He did for us (Prov. 3:5)! Every time we sin, we incur greater guilt, and we deserve punishment (Gen. 3:1-24; Jer. 17:9; Rom. 2:1-11; 3:10-26; 5:12-19; Titus 1:15; James 1:12-15; 1 John 1:8-10). But, the incredible miracle here is that we are set free by His work on the cross, by His death and resurrection (Rom. 5:10; 6:22). We have salvation by Jesus' sacrificial death (John 19:30). How now will you live your life?
What does the Resurrection mean to you? What should it mean and what will you do now?
We are chosen by God and by God alone for our Christian journey, because we are not at our final destination. Each of us is in a process in life and faith. As long as we have breath, God is not finished with us yet; He is still at work in you, He deeply loves you, and He wants you to draw ever so nearer to Him. We need to avoid slipping into unbelief and cynicism just because we can't wrap our minds around it or because we are disappointed. Yet, this is where we all can easily live, because life can be so hard and confusing. We can learn from it, no matter what, so that we can have joy and praise Him for His guidance from His Word and Holy Spirit, and, as we walk in Christ, we can always know God was the One who created us to walk and continues to teach us. "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion" (Phil. 1:6).
© 2012, R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.org/