“But now is Christ risen from the dead and become the first fruits of those who sleep….” (I Corinthians 15:20).
Even those who have served God all their lives need reminding of the importance of the resurrection of Jesus sometimes. Those new to the faith enjoy learning the full dimensions of the new life they have received in Christ.
Here are an even dozen aspects of the resurrection of Jesus that instruct our minds, inspire our hearts, and inform us all….
1) No one expected Jesus to rise from the dead.
Jesus’ resurrection was as much a shock to the disciples as His death had been. Thomas, known forever as the doubter, was merely voicing what most of them felt when he declared he would not believe in the risen Lord until He had done his own thorough investigation. (See John 20.)
2) Everyone doubted it at first. Everyone.
Matthew 28:17 says, “And when they saw Him, they worshiped HIm. But some were doubtful.” Only one devoted to the whole truth would include such an incriminating statement in his narrative. Thank you, Matthew. (And thank you, Holy Spirit.)
3) Only later, after the disciples thought it through and talked it out, did they recall that Jesus had predicted His death and resurrection several times.
The gospels tell of three separate times Jesus tried to prepare the disciples for this world-changing event that lay just ahead. See Mark 8:31-32; 9:31-32; and 10:33-34. Since they had their minds made up that He was following an entirely different agenda, none of this made sense and their minds refused to accept it. Only later did it fit.
Mark 9:9-10 speaks of the Lord’s conversation with James, John, and Peter as they descended the Mount of Transfiguration. “And as they were coming down from the mountain, He gave them orders not to relate to anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man should rise from the dead. And they seized upon that statement, discussing with one another what rising from the dead might mean.”
4) The stone was rolled away from the entrance to the tomb NOT to let Jesus out.
But to let the disciples in. The angel said, “Come see the place where He lay.”
5) Jesus appeared only to believers.
The most complete list of His appearances is the one Paul gave in I Corinthians 15. Just as the believers only were given “many infallible proofs” (Acts 1:3), only believers saw the risen Christ. (The single possible exception to this may be the Lord’s brother James, who later became head of the church at Jerusalem.)
6) The Lord missed a great opportunity for dramatic effect by not making some “surprise guest appearances” to Herod, Pilate, and the high priest.
Had this been a made-up story as critics have surmised, no writer could have missed the chance for a comeuppance in which the risen Christ dropped in on these men. But Jesus was not here for dramatic effect. (Anyone doubting that will enjoy seeing how He healed people, e.g., the blind beggar of Jericho. Luke 18:42 says, “And Jesus said to him, ‘Okay, you’ve got it,’ and his eyes were opened.” (All right, I moderned it up a tad. But that’s about how it went.)
7) Jesus’ opponents did not steal His body, as some have claimed.
We know this for one overwhelming reason: when the disciples began covering Jerusalem with this doctrine (Acts 5:28), the easiest way to put a stop to this business would have been for His opponents to produce the dead body. They didn’t for one simple reason: they didn’t have it.
The next time you hear this foolishness that says “the Jews knew that Jesus expected to rise from the dead, so to stop it from happening, they stole the body and hid it,” remember this: Had they known where the body was, they’d have stopped the gospel movement dead in its tracks. Give me a break.
8) Some of the Jews did remember Jesus’ predictions to rise from the dead. It’s almost funny that they did, but the disciples did not.
Matthew 27:62ff reads, “Now, on the next day, which is the one after the preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together with Pilate and said, ‘Sir, we remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I am to rise again.” Therefore, they requested and got a Roman guard for the tomb to make it secure.
We are indebted to them for this additional verification of the resurrection.
9) Jesus’ friends did not steal His body.
In the first place, they would have had no reason. They missed the predictions about his death/resurrection and were so disappointed they were leaving town (see Luke 24).
Second, the amazing transformation in these disciples had to have had a cause. They were practically “shot out of cannons” as they bursted out of Jerusalem and exploded across the Roman Empire with the message of Jesus. Many of them died for the gospel.
No one dies for a hoax.
10) The gospel stands or falls on the resurrection of Jesus.
Paul says, “If Christ be not raised, your faith is worthless and you are still in your sins” (I Corinthians 15:17). He adds, “If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied” (15:19).
This is not an optional minor doctrine, friend. This is one of the load-bearing columns, a pillar on which a thousand realities hang.
11) This same “resurrection power” is available now.
Paul states his heart’s desire: “…that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings….” (Philippians 3:10).
In 1945, the world saw the destructive power of atomic energy when our country dropped bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Ever since, we have been devoted to finding positive uses for this energy. Today, nuclear power runs the electricity in my city, sends submarines around the world underwater, and does a thousand other things. The force that raised Jesus from the dead is the same Holy Spirit power that guided my teaching yesterday, empowered your witness last evening, and answered our prayers this morning.
Plus, I expect it’s this same resurrection power that raises you and me one day.
12) The point of the resurrection is a thousand-fold. The two biggies are these:
a) The resurrection of Jesus Christ confirmed His identity–every claim He made for Himself, every promise He gave His followers, and every judgment He delivered to the enemy.
b) And this one: He’s still alive today.
When I asked the disciples of a guru what they did with the resurrection of Jesus–“Doesn’t that make him a zillion miles above all these other religious leaders you believe in?”–they answered, “We do not believe anything that happened 2,000 years ago has any possible meaning for us today.”
Such willful blindness.
It has great meaning if that same Lord–the Jesus of Nazareth who walked the dusty lanes of Galilee and the hills of Zion teaching the way of God, the Saviour who took our sins on Himself and paid for them by His death on Calvary–is still alive and a-loose in our world today.
As He is.
We bow at His feet with Thomas and say, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).
Jesus Christ is Lord! He is risen and nothing will ever be the same again!