Easter Sunday is just around the corner. For us southerners cold weather has given way to spring, yard work is underway, flowers are blooming, a newness fills the heart with anticipation of something fresh, and of course, don’t forget the children with their joyful sounds hunting Easter Eggs! Easter, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the cornerstones of Christian faith. What would an Easter service be without gleefully singing “Up from the grave He arose, with a mighty triumph o’er His foes; He arose a victor o’er the dark domain, And He lives forever with His saints to reign. He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!”?
God used the pen of Paul to write one of the most powerful chapters found in Scripture, First Corinthians 15. Its theme is the resurrection. He begins the chapter with a clear definition of the gospel. Simply stated, the gospel is the good news that Jesus Christ “died for our sins according to the Scripture, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,” 15:3-4. Remove His death, burial and resurrection from the gospel and you remove any hope we have for the forgiveness of sin, life after death, the joy of living an overcoming life in this sinful world, and on top of that, our faith is vain; “For if the dead are not raised, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins,” declared Paul, 15:15-16.
The resurrection of Christ has been declared as one of the most provable events in the history of mankind. The preponderance of evidence is overwhelming. In a court of law witness after witness could be called to the stand to give credible testimony. Jesus was seen by Mary Magdalene and other women, Matthew 28:8-10; by Peter, Luke 24:34; the two on the Emmaus road, Luke 24:13-32; the ten disciples (Thomas, the unbelieving doubter being absent), Luke 24:36-43; the disciples including Thomas (the believing disciple confessing Jesus as “My Lord and my God.”), John 20:26-29; seven disciples by the Sea of Galilee, John 21:1-24; to the apostles and more than 500 brethren, 1 Corinthians 15:6, 7; by Paul, 1 Corinthians 15:8, and finally by those who witnessed the ascension, Luke 24:44-53; Acts 1:3-12.
Jesus’ resurrection transformed many of His peers changing timid men and women into bold witnesses who faced the brutal killers who crucified Him into embolden people who were not intimidated. Cowering Peter had denied his Lord, even cursing (Matthew 26:69-75), became the spokesman who looked Jesus’ enemies in the eyes and declared, “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know—this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power,” Acts 2:22-24. John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, John 20:21, would declare without a doubt in old age, c. 95 A.D., not only his confidence in a risen Savior, he would declare his desire for the risen Savior to “Come, Lord Jesus, Acts 22:20.
My dear friend, if Jesus had not been raised from the dead He was a liar. He said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up… But He was speaking of the temple of His body. When He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken,” John 2:19-22. God, the Father is a phony for through David He said, “For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay,” Psalm 16:10, declared to be fulfilled in Acts 13:26-39. And, the Holy Spirit has no one to whom He will testify (John 15:26). Jesus did not lie nor is the Father a phony. And, the Holy Spirit testifies daily the wonders of saving grace and the life we have in Him. Do you know Him? Do you have this life?
Friend, it is Easter, have fun with the kids, enjoy the warm spring weather with its outdoor activity, but celebrate the resurrection. Walter A. Elwell wrote, “That Jesus Christ died and afterward rose from the dead is both the central doctrine of Christian Theology and the major facts of its teachings. This was true of the earliest church and remains so today.” “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep… my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:20; 58.
Written by Pastor Dean Hightower