Celebrating the Resurrection
“We could cope—the world could cope—with a Jesus who ultimately remains a wonderful idea inside his disciples’ minds and hearts. The world cannot cope with a Jesus who comes out of the tomb, who inaugurates God’s new creation right in the middle of the old one.” – N.T. Wright
The world has a hard time with the fact that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead. The Enlightenment clearly tells us that there is no such thing as a man, who was dead, being brought back to life. That defies the laws of nature. So this doctrine of the Christian faith causes problems for the skeptics, boggles the minds of the scientist, and is the area that the atheist attempts to attack. Yet the belief of the physical resurrection of Jesus is the cornerstone for our faith and practice. If Jesus Christ was not raised from the dead, there is no Christianity. Again there is no reason to believe in Jesus if He was not resurrected from the dead. So it is, that the confession “Jesus Christ…died on the cross for the sins of the world, was raised bodily and exalted to God’s right hand…” is the reason why we celebrate our salvation. 2000 years ago Jesus Christ was put to death on a cross. Yet three days later, God raised Him from the dead. In the event of the resurrection, Jesus Christ started the New Creation. No longer will death have dominion over creation because it was defeated. In fact death is the greatest enemy of the world but the event of the resurrection, Jesus Christ changed the entire sum of creation.
“Jesus’ return from the grave is the dawn of the new day: God’s people and all creation will share in his resurrection life.”
We as Christians should celebrate the resurrection, the celebration of the New Creation, the celebration of the defeat of death. In light of this I’d like to share with you with 8 New Testament passages that speak about the resurrection that have impacted my walk with Christ. They are all found within different context and applied differently but you’ll see the emphasis of the New Testament authors: the resurrection of the Son of God, the Messiah; Jesus.
1. Luke 24: Interacting with the Resurrected Jesus
On the road to Emmaus, the two disciples walked with their heads hanging. They placed their faith in the man who called himself the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. They had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. But of course that didn’t happen, because Jesus of Nazareth died at the hands of the Romans. Yet they were met by a man on the road who asked them why they looked so depressed. They explained the story of the man and how he died. But to their surprise the one who met them was the One who died. Jesus Christ was resurrected from the dead and to prove that He was resurrected had a meal with them. He revealed Himself to them in the most intimate way. He interacted with those two disciples and restored their hope and expectations.
2. Acts 2:22-36: Preaching of the Resurrected Jesus
Peter after being filled with the Holy Spirit stood up in the midst of Jerusalem and began to preach the first evangelistic sermon in church history. With the radical statements about the Spirit of God being poured out in the last days and the death of Jesus by the hands of lawless men under the sovereignty of God, Peter began to speak about the resurrected Jesus. He made the point that this Jesus God raised up from the dead, and they were all witnesses to the event. With the preaching of the resurrected and exalted Christ, 3000 men were baptized.
3. Romans 6:5-11: Application of the Resurrected Jesus
Paul, in his argument about sin and grace makes the point that in the midst of sin the grace of God abounds all the more. But before his hearers can go out and sin habitually he quickly gives a series of questions: “Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? No way!! How can we who died to sin live in it? Do you not know that those who were baptized into Jesus were baptized into His death?” Paul then makes the statement that we are united into His death and also in His resurrection. Therefore baptism is the act in which the death and resurrection of Jesus is applied to a believer as a metaphor. Paul concludes that “We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over Him.”
4. 1 Corinthians 15:12-28: Defending the Resurrected Jesus
In his defense of the resurrection of Jesus, Paul as he does so often starts his argument with a question. “If Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” If Christ isn’t raised then the preaching of Paul is in vain. Also if Christ isn’t raised, we are dead in our sins. If that is so, then Christians should be the most pitied in the world! But Christ was raised as the first fruit of all those who have died. The promise is to believers who have died. They will be raised from the dead and death will be defeated. The last enemy will be destroyed!
5. Ephesians 1:15-23: The Dominion of the Resurrected Jesus
For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (No need to explain)
6. Philippians 3:1-11: Being Conformed into the Resurrected Jesus
Looking back on his life, Paul shows the difference between religion and following Jesus. It isn’t the law that makes one right before God but through Jesus. You can’t work your way to God it is only through Jesus Christ. Paul says that everything he gained in his life should be considered “rubbish” (garbage, trash, dung, manure, etc). Paul concludes that his righteousness comes from God that depends on faith. But he continues by adding what that faith looks like. It consists of knowing Him, the power of His resurrection, and sharing in His sufferings becoming like Him in his death. He wanted this all because he wanted to attain to the resurrection. Paul’s desire is to be conformed into the life of Christ, by His death and resurrection.
7. 1 Peter 1:3-5: Hope of the Resurrected Jesus
Peter gives his greeting to the elect exiles of the dispersion by giving one of the most encouraging openings in all of the New Testament. God has given them mercy because He saved them. Their hope in their salvation is rooted in the resurrection of Jesus. This hope consist of an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading which is kept in heaven. This salvation is guarded by God but will be revealed in the last time. God will show His power by raising men and women from the dead giving them full salvation in the end.
8. Revelation 21: The Newness that will come because of the Resurrected Jesus
Then I saw, as John said “a new heaven and new earth”. This renewed/restored creation and people will the Bride of the Lamb. The New Creation is the final home for all who follower the Resurrected Jesus. God said that “I am making all things new.” This means a new people, new place, new way, and complete New Creation. No more pain, tears, mourning, death. This is the marriage of heaven and earth. As God created the heavens and the earth in Genesis, so will God create a new heaven and new earth. They will come together in the end. Everything will be made right. The full redemptive plan of God will be consummated and everything will be new, good, right, and holy. This all happens because of the work of the Lamb, who was slain and resurrected.
These 8 passages are not an exhaustive list of resurrection passages. They are simply some passages that have impacted my walk with Jesus. As we are roughly a month away from Easter let us remember to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and continue to walk in the newness of life.
“But the good news is this: death has been defeated; our conqueror has been conquered. In the face of the power of the kingdom of God in Christ, death was helpless. It could not hold him, death has been defeated; life and immortality have been brought to life.”
– George Eldon Ladd