Celebrating the Resurrection

It has been almost 2,000 years since Jesus was arrested, tried, found guilty, and crucified. Jesus’ closest friends were devastated in the days immediately following his crucifixion. They found it necessary to hide themselves from the authorities, all but losing hope concerning the coming kingdom. Then the unexpected announcement. Some women had gone to visit the tomb and to their surprise an angel told them that Jesus wasn’t dead any longer!

Now, you would think that this kind of news would be received joyfully by his closest friends. In Mark’s gospel however, we are told that on two occasions the disciples were told that Jesus was alive but they wouldn’t believe it (Mark 16:9-13). John tells the story of Thomas who declared, “If I don't see the mark of the nails in His hands, put my finger into the mark of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will never believe!” (John 20:25).

Can you really blame the disciples for their unbelief? They had just witnessed their Rabbi die the most horrific death imaginable on a Roman cross. It wasn’t pretty. John witnessed a spear being thrust into Jesus side (which, by the way, I think would have been pushed up from underneath the cross and therefore, piercing his heart). Who could be raised from that kind of death?

Jesus did try to prepare them. He told them plainly that he was going to die and rise again. They heard it but they didn’t understand it! Further to this, they had all witnessed Jesus raising people from the dead on a number of occasions. The most recent being the raising of Lazarus, who had been dead for four days!

When all the disciples were together Jesus scolded them for their unbelief and for the hardness of their hearts!

The resurrection validates the message and mission of Jesus and as followers of Jesus we celebrate. Why? I see three important reasons:

First, all of humanity was doomed, separated from God because of sin. Jesus is God’s answer to this separation. Jesus said that he came to “seek and save” those who were lost. That means that “... now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). He also promised not to refuse anyone who comes to him in faith.

Second, there is hope for the future. This life is temporary. Eternity with Jesus is our destiny. We will be raised in the future. “But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back” (I Cor. 15:23).

Finally, we have power to live victoriously today. Paul said “It stands to reason, doesn't it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he'll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ's!” (Rom. 8:11 msg).

Do you believe it?