The Resurrection of Our Lord 
If we have only hoped in Christ in this life, we are of all men most to be pitied. (1 Cor. 15:19)1
So think of it like this – if the disciples and these three women were travelling around the countryside telling people that Jesus had been raised from the dead, when he really had not been, then surely someone, somewhere would have come forward to say, ‘These people are frauds. This never happened. Their testimony is flawed.’ No one did, however. This would be like someone today saying that John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Denver rather than Dallas. Millions of people still living today know better, including myself. I saw the whole thing played out on television in all its gory detail. Or it would be like someone saying that the holocaust never really happened. There are still people alive today who were there, who went through the horror of it, who were there and saw the concentration camps with their own eyes.
So the resurrection of Jesus is fact. It really happened. There is far too much eyewitness testimony to disprove it. Okay, you may be saying, ‘That’s nice, but big deal. What does it mean for me living in this highly technological, post-modern world of the twenty-first century which rejects such strong assertions of absolute truth?’ Great question!
It means at least three things. You can be sure of the forgiveness of your sins, the certainty of eternal life, and the assurance that God will right all the wrongs and injustices ever done. Let’s briefly take these one at a time.
Jesus’ resurrection means that you can be sure of the forgiveness of your sins. How so? Paul the Apostle says that Jesus was raised for our justification. John tells us that the Holy Spirit convicts people of sin, righteousness, and judgment. To be raised for our justification means that Jesus’ resurrection from the dead proves God the Father’s acceptance of Christ’s death as the payment for our sins. Paul says that God sent Jesus who never committed sin to become sin on our behalf that we may be given the righteousness of Jesus Christ. God used types in the Hebrew Scriptures, the sacrificial system laid down in Exodus and Leviticus, to point to the reality of One dying in our place. Just as the High Priest went annually into the Holiest of Holies, sacrificing a bull on the altar with the people waiting expectantly outside; so God once and for all offered up his only Son outside the city of Jerusalem on a cross! And when Jesus says that the Spirit will convict of sin, he means that his resurrection proves the sin of the world was placed on him on the cross. When he says that the Spirit will convict of righteousness he means that the resurrection proves Jesus’ righteousness or perfection is given to all who believe in him. And when he says that the Spirit convicts of judgment he means that his resurrection proves the coming judgment of Satan who eventually will be thrown into the lake of fire forever.
The glorious news on Easter morning, by dear friend, is that Jesus’ resurrection proves the greatest story ever told is absolute, unmitigated truth. Jesus died for your sins. It means that he can remove your sins from you, as far as the east is from the west, that his loving-kindness, his faithfulness can be yours forever. It means that as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord God Almighty has compassion on you. He sees your desperate condition, your enslavement to sin, your inability to save yourself, your blindness and culpability before the Holy One who sees all; and he says to you, ‘My son, your sins are forgiven.’ Whether you have been moral, religious, or irreligious makes no difference. You live with a deep sense that things are just not right. You know things are lacking in your life. This is true of each one of us. You know you ought to do better, but you cannot or you have given up on the idea. Nothing you do in yourself, whether some self-help programme or giving to the poor, can remove the emptiness you feel from time to time. Your success in money or accomplishment will not do it either. You need to be changed from the inside and I am telling you that the resurrection of Jesus proves you can have a new beginning. Jesus says that unless you are born again you will not see the kingdom of heaven. He can work this miracle in you.
Second, the resurrection of Jesus proves the certainty of eternal life. Jesus said, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me shall live even if he dies.’ He says, ‘Truly, truly I say to you, he who believes in me has eternal life.’ He says, ‘And I give eternal life to them and they shall never perish. No one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father who has given them to me is greater than all and no-one shall snatch them out of the Father’s hand.’ We instinctively fear death, and if we do not, then we ought to, if we are not right with God. That’s why we hold on so tightly to our money, our families, our jobs, our youth, and our health. We think this is all there is, that once we leave this world, then nothing else exists. But for the believer death is truly just the beginning. This means at least two things. First, when a believer in the Lord Jesus dies his soul immediately goes into the presence of Jesus. He will be welcomed into a paradise beyond comprehension in glory, splendour, and majesty. He will see his Lord and Master face to face. He will hear those beautiful words from his mouth, ‘Well done my good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your eternal rest.’ In heaven there is no sickness, no death, no mourning, crying, or pain. But second, when the Lord Jesus returns to earth, as he repeatedly promised he would, then the believer will be clothed with a new body that will never perish. It will be like the glorified body the Lord Jesus received after his resurrection. Our earthly bodies are sown in weakness, but our resurrection bodies will be sown in power. Our earthly bodies are sown perishable bodies but our resurrection bodies will be sown imperishable bodies. Our earthly bodies are sown in weakness but our resurrection bodies will be sown in power. This means your loved one born with Down’s syndrome will be free from that in his new body. This means your loved one whose last days were dreadful and painful due to cancer, will be forever released from the pain and debilitating affects of that disease.
And third, the resurrection of Jesus proves that God will right all the wrongs ever done in the world. Think of the untold wickedness and injustice inflicted on individuals and their families, not to mention entire nations ravaged by genocidal wars. Think of those whose loved ones were mercilessly gunned down in the summer of 1977 by David Berkowitz, the Son of Sam murderer. How can they ever gain closure from such a horror! Think of the millions of children who have died from starvation because of the greed of despots who refused to give them even the basic necessities of life. Think of the horror of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. God promises to sum up again all things in Christ. He will unfold for his people the full glory of all his attributes, and unveil his eternal purpose in all things he ordained in the world, even the suffering and injustice we experience. He promises to bring his kingdom fully into the world. By the kingdom of God, this means the rule and reign of Christ in its totality in all of creation. The world has been terribly marred by sin, meaning all our relationships are broken in some form or another. God promises to restore, to reconcile all things to himself. Another way of speaking of God’s kingdom is the renewal and reconciliation of all relationships. We are in wrong relationship with God due to our sin, but Jesus promises to correct that for all who repent and believe his gospel. At the very end of the Hebrew Scriptures Malachi reports that God would send Elijah to turn the hearts of the children to the fathers, and the hearts of the fathers to their children. This was done, of course, through John the Baptist, a type of Elijah, who prepared the way for the Lord. And John was preparing the way for the Lord Jesus to come and reconcile all things to himself, having made peace through the blood of his cross. Though we once were alienated, hostile in mind, and engaged in evil deeds, the Father reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is possible through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, a certain fact of history.
So rejoice, my dear Christian friend! Christ Jesus indeed has risen from the dead. Things which eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love him (1 Cor. 2:9).
- The first of these two articles on the Resurrection can be found here.
Rev. Allen M Baker is Pastor of Christ Community Presbyterian Church in West Hartford, Connecticut.
Al Baker’s sermons are now available on www.sermonaudio.com.
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