The great foundation of our faith lies not in creeds or liturgy, but in the undisputable fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Not only is our forgiveness from God and the hope in Christ dependent upon His Resurrection, but also our eternal destiny. In light of the great message and fact of the Resurrection, everything changes: our understanding of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; our perspective of life in this world and the world to come; our attitudes and love towards our Redeemer and fellow humans.
The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:12-14, “Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.”
The Apostles of Jesus, including Paul and more than 500 brethren, were all first-hand witnesses to the greatest and most significant event in history – they had seen their physically resurrected Lord. All their preaching and teaching, beginning in the Book of Acts, was based on the joy and glory of Christ’s resurrection.
The Miracle of the Resurrection
In His life on earth, Jesus performed many miracles. His birth itself was unique and miraculous. We see a crescendo of joy with the angels when our Savior was born, and the works of Christ testified to the fact that He was indeed the Messiah, God’s only begotten Son.
Yet our faith is not built on the miracles Jesus performed. Miracles were great evidences that Christ had been sent by God as the Messiah to save sinners from their sin. As glorious as the miracles of Christ during His ministry were, none of them comes close to the miracle on which the church stands and to which she owes her existence: the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ.
As the healing of the blind and lame was predicted by the Old Testament (Isaiah 35:5-6), so the resurrection of Christ was explicitly prophesied by David in Psalm 16:10 “For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption” (physical decay). See also Acts 2:27,31 and 13:35.
This meant that it was necessary not only for Christ to heal the sick and raise the dead; He would be raised from the dead by God.
We can pinpoint the enormous difference between the miracles Jesus performed during His ministry and this miracle of resurrection that marked His victory over sin and the grave. Christ’s ministry miracles were signs that He was approved by God (Acts 2:22); His resurrection sealed the fact that His people are accepted by God (Romans 1:4; 4:25; 1 Peter 1:21). Without the resurrection from the dead, “We are of all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:19).
The Power of the Resurrection
Most Christians accept Jesus’ resurrection. But have we fully comprehended its power and impact? What does Jesus’ resurrection really mean for Christians?
By rising from the dead to return to eternal power at the right hand of the Father, Jesus fulfilled a vital part of the plan of God that has paramount importance to the life and future of every human being – primarily believers.
One of Jesus’ last teachings regarding resurrection occurred not long before His crucifixion and resurrection. This teaching was coupled with a miracle Jesus performed by raising His friend Lazarus from the dead.
Prior to bringing Lazarus back to life, Jesus told Lazarus’ sister Martha, “Your brother will rise again … I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live” (John 11:23,25).
On this occasion Jesus resurrected Lazarus back to physical life. But Jesus also spoke of a resurrection to eternal life that He would be able to offer humans who believed on Him after He rose from the dead.
The earnest desire of the apostle Paul resonates with many of us believers; to know, to experience and live in the power of Christ’s resurrection. The endless longing to know Christ more intimately, contributes to our spiritual growth and health. Philippians 3:10-11: “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection…if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” In this chapter, Paul considers all things loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ. All things are expendable just to know Christ. To Paul the all-important things are to win Christ, to be found in Christ Jesus so that he has the righteousness of Jesus, to know the power of Christ’s resurrection, and ultimately to attain the resurrection of the dead.
The Hope of and in the Resurrection
In a world of strife, anxiety, fear and hopelessness, we need to be reminded that the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus gives us joyful hope for eternal glory. In Revelation 20:6 we read, “Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death (eternal separation from God) has no power.” This first resurrection happens when we are born again through the Holy Spirit and the Word of God (John 3). Here we receive the full redemption in Christ and are transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of the Son of God.
You and I are responsible for maintaining our relationship with Christ, as Paul admonishes God’s people in Colossians 3:1: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.”
O how glorious it will be, with all of God’s saints in heaven, rejoicing and praising God forever; where no temptations, no disease, pain nor death will be known. May the God of all comfort keep this joy and faith in the Resurrection alive in our hearts.