“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, that He was buried; that He was raised on the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the heart of true Christianity. Without The Resurrection Christianity is just another religion. True Christianity is not a religion at all. True Christianity is to know Christ crucified, dead, buried and raised to life again. To deny The Resurrection is to deny the Word of God that testifies to it. The Lord Jesus Himself is the heart of our faith as believers. He is the object of our faith. Mohammed, Buddha, Confucius are all-dead but Jesus is alive and well! Our hope for eternity stands on the foundation of The Resurrection.
Many people saw Jesus alive again and actually touched Him physically. God Himself testifies to The Resurrection of His Son in both the Old & the New Testaments. The Bible contains many references to The Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Multitudes have willingly and joyfully suffered and died for Jesus Christ. Apart from John all of the apostles were martyred. The Resurrection is mentioned directly 104 times in the New Testament. Jesus claimed that He would rise again on the third day and He did just that. He fulfilled the Old Testament prophecy concerning His Resurrection and ours also. Hosea the prophet says, “He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day that we may live before Him” (Hosea 6:2). To acknowledge Jesus’ Resurrection is to acknowledge His Deity.
The Fact of His Resurrection.
“And through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 1:4),
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ was not to prove that He was God’s Son. God did not have to prove that Jesus was His Son by The Resurrection because Jesus had always been God’s Son from all eternity. “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from old, from days of eternity” (Micah 5:2).
Through The Resurrection God was declaring to the whole earth and to the heavenly Realms that Jesus was and had always been his only begotten Son.) “But about the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.” He also says, “In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end” (Hebrews 1:8-12.) Jesus’ Resurrection demonstrates that He has overcome Satan, sin, death and hell for all time and opened the way for sinful man to be reconciled to a Holy God. (2 Corinthians 5:19) His Resurrection is mentioned in the four gospels. There are three aspects that validate Jesus’ resurrection.
Firstly, we see a careful comparison between the four gospel accounts . Different apostles wrote the four gospels at different times. Each gospel varies in its emphasis. Matthew wrote before the destruction of the temple in 70 AD. He was a witness to The Resurrection of Jesus. Mark wrote his gospel down before any of the others did and probably he wrote it between 60-70 AD from Rome. He too was a witness to The Resurrection. Luke wrote around 60 AD in a very historically accurate way. He never witnessed The Resurrection of Jesus personally but thoroughly investigated the claims of those that did and found them to be true and reliable. He was a historian known for his accuracy in dealing with facts. (Luke 1:1-4) John wrote his gospel around 90 AD long after all the other apostles were dead. He writes with a spiritual depth and clarity more than the others did. He gives more detailed accounts of The Resurrection of Jesus. He too was a witness to The Resurrection.
Even though the gospels differ in their literary styles they all clearly show a harmony in their accounts of the Resurrection. Some go into more details than others concerning The Resurrection. However, they all testify that Jesus Christ rose physically from the dead. On this they all agree. They never got together to compare notes. The Holy Spirit was able to give us a very comprehensive account of the Resurrection by using the four apostles with their individual and diverse personalities showing through in the gospels.
Secondly, we can read the simplicity of the narratives. These were not fanciful stories that people made up. There were too many independent witnesses. There were very real accounts of personal encounters with Jesus. What they heard, saw and touched they wrote about. “That which was from the beginning which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched-this we proclaim concerning the Word of life, The life appeared: we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life; which was with the Father and has appeared to us” (1 John 1:1-2).
Thirdly, we can examine those who were the eyewitnesses to His Resurrection. These were not second hand accounts but first hand experience. There are the Testimonies of those who saw him alive and the Bible itself Bible mentions many personal encounters with Jesus after his resurrection. There are too many encounters to have been faked. Mary Magdalene. (Mark 16:9) (John 20:18) The Women. (Matthew 28:9) Simon Peter. (Luke 24:34) The Two disciples. (Luke 24:13-31) All the apostles. (except Thomas) (John 20:19,24) Thomas. (John 20:26) The apostles at the Sea of Tiberius. (John 21:1) The apostles in Galilee. (Matthew 28:16-17) About 500 at one time. (1 Corinthians 15:6) James (1 Corinthians 15:7) All the apostles. (Luke 24:51) (Acts 1:9) (1 Corinthians 15:7) The apostle Paul. (1 Corinthians 15:8)
There are three main theories that try to explain away the resurrection.
1. The ‘Swoon’ Theory.
There are those who will say that Jesus did not really die on the cross but simply swooned from the pain and torture and then after three days He rolled away the stone and appeared to His disciples even though the tomb had been sealed. They argue that Jesus had been in a coma or a type or suspended animation.
The Facts that refute this theory.
First of all Jesus was crucified by his enemies so they would make sure that He was really dead. In those times a person was never taken down from the cross unless they were really dead and the body was always guarded until death occurred. Jesus’ side and heart was pierced with a Roman spear. The object of the spearing was to cause instantaneous death. Jesus’ heart was ruptured because blood and water flowed out from His side. (John 19:33-34) This was medical proof that Jesus really did die physically. The hole from the spear was large enough for a hand to enter. (John 20:27) Jesus was in the tomb for three days and had deep wounds and lacerations, loss of blood and extreme physical weakness so how could He roll away a stone that took several men to roll into place? Even if He could roll away the stone what about the squad of soldiers that guarded that tomb itself? He would have had to sneak past them.
2. The ‘Theft’ Theory.
This was first circulated by the Pharisees who bribed the men commanded to guard the tomb to say that they fell asleep and that while they slept Jesus’ disciples came and stole his body. (Matthew 28:11-15)
The Facts that refute this theory.
The Roman soldiers were sent to guard the tomb with Pilate’s seal on it. (Matthew 27:62-65) Roman sentries never fell asleep on duty because if they did it meant execution. One guard might fall asleep but a whole squad? According to Matthew’s account they were certainly not sleeping. (Matthew 28:2-4) Jesus enemies could not have stolen his body because if they had they would have been able to show it to everyone. However, no one has ever produced the body!
3. A ‘Spiritual’ Resurrection only. (The Vision Theory)
There are those who will say that Jesus only rose spiritually like a phantom being or spirit and the disciples had a supernatural vision i.e., they saw some kind of apparition of Jesus but it wasn’t a physical resurrection.
The Facts that refute this theory.
If the apostles began to preach a resurrection based on some vision then their enemies would have soon produced a body to debunk their testimony. Jesus was physically alive. Doubting Thomas touched him physically. (John 20:27) Jesus had breakfast with his disciples. (John 21:7-14)
When we examine the Biblical records and the eyewitness accounts and the evidence they produce there is no doubt that Jesus physically died and physically rose again. The bottom line is this, unless there is a revelation of this truth to our minds and hearts by the Holy Spirit we will not believe even though we have all the facts before us. In the final analysis all spiritual truth must come in this way. “I tell you the truth, unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). “We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words” (1 Corinthians 2:12-14 15:50).
The Importance of The Resurrection.
1. The Resurrection was the most prominent emphasis of the apostles preaching and testimony.
“With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and much grace was upon them all” (Acts 4:33).
If we want to know the power of the Holy Spirit in our witnessing then we must always emphasize The Resurrection! The Holy Spirit always points to Jesus. (John 16:13-15) Testifying to the resurrection is paramount to the gospel message. We can clearly see this especially in the book of Acts. (Acts 1:21-22 2:24,29-32 17:18) The Good News about Jesus always included the resurrection.
2. The Resurrection is one of the three fundamental truths of the gospel.
“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
Real gospel preaching will always include The Resurrection. The Apostle Paul himself said, “Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel” (2 Timothy 2:8). The crucifixion means nothing without The Resurrection. (1 Corinthians 15:12-19, 32) If Jesus were not the sinless Son of God then the resurrection would never have taken place. Without The Resurrection Jesus’ death was only the heroic death of a noble martyr but with The Resurrection it is the atoning death of the Son of God and shows His death to be sufficient to cover all of our sins, because it was the sacrifice of the Son of God. In His death we have an all-sufficient foundation for knowing that the darkest sin is atoned for. Our sin may be as high as the highest mountain, but the sacrifice that covers it is as high as the highest heaven; our guilt may be as deep as the deepest ocean, but the atonement that swallows it up is as deep as eternity.
3. The Doctrine of The Resurrection of Jesus Christ has power to save anyone who believes it with the heart.
“The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:8-13).
Believing in the resurrection does not mean that we just believe it with our intellect. There must be a revelation to our heart because if we believe in our heart then we will confess it with our mouth. We confess Jesus is Lord because we believe in our heart that God raised Him from the dead and because we believe it in our heart we confess it and as a result we are saved. Confession is a part of receiving Salvation. In the New Testament there was no such thing as a silent Christian or a private faith! Jesus also said, “He who confesses Me before men, him also I will confess before My Father in heaven but Me who denies Me before men, him also will I deny before My Father in heaven.” The more we confess our Salvation and the scriptures that tell us we are saved the more we will believe it with our heart. “Faith comes from hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17).
When the apostles had been filled with the Spirit once again they testified to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. God’s power and grace rested upon everyone who heard them. “With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all” (Acts 4:33). Satan hates the proclamation of The Resurrection because he knows that when it is proclaimed it announces to the world that he has been defeated by the work of the cross for time and eternity.
4. To know the Power of The Resurrection should be one of our highest ambitions.
(Philippians 3:10-11) “I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
Jesus was anointed for burial before He was anointed for dominion. If we want to know Jesus in the power of His Resurrection then we firstly need to know him in His suffering and death. The Lord Jesus Himself said; “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed My teaching they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of My name, for they do not know the One who sent Me.”(John 15:18-21)
In the Christian experience there is no resurrection without death. Unless we die to ourselves we cannot live to God. As the Lord Jesus also said; “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground, and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will loose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves Me must follow Me; and where I am, My servant will also be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.”(John 12:24-26)
Jesus wants us to have His authority and power over the world, the flesh and the devil and to walk as He walked in the world. (1 John 2:6) However, we must first die with Him if we are to live with Him.
(Galatians 2:20) “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in (by the faith of) the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
To know His Resurrection power is to also know the power of His indestructible life residing in us! As the writer to Hebrew says concerning the Lord Jesus, “One who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation concerning His ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life” (Hebrews 7:16). It is only the power of Jesus’ indestructible life that will enable us to walk free from the power of Satan and from the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and from the pride of life! The apostle John says, “The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4) When we realize that He that the One living in us is greater than he that is in the world then the power of Jesus’ indestructible life will bring us to victory every time we avail ourselves of it through faith.
The way in which He was raised from the dead.
1. The Lord Jesus Christ was raised to life by God’s Power.
(Acts 2:24) “But God raised Him from the dead, freeing Him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him.’ Because He was God in the flesh Jesus could have raised himself to life again. He said that he had the power to do this. “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life-only to take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I have received from my father.” However, it was God who raised Jesus to life again.”(John 10:17-18)
Adam was the representative of the human race but by his rebellion brought about sin and death for everyone. (Romans 5:12) Jesus had to reverse the curse. Jesus being raised again was the first of a new race of spiritual beings namely His Body, the Church. His Resurrection was our resurrection. As the apostle Paul wrote; “If we have been united with him in His death, we will certainly also be united with Him in His resurrection.”(Romans 6:5)
The same Holy Spirit who raised Him to life will also raise us to life as well. (Romans 8:11) Jesus was raised by an act of Divine Power outside of Himself and not by the fullness of the Divine life within Himself even though He had the power to raise Himself to life. It took the strength of God’s might to raise him up. (Ephesians 1:19-20)
2. The Lord Jesus Christ had a physical human body after His resurrection that was not subject to human limitations.
(John 20:27) “Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Stop doubting and believe.”
Jesus was no phantom being nor was he just some vision or hallucination. He had a real human body. It was the same body as He had before He died but the molecular structure was different because he could walk through a closed door. (John 20:19) In the resurrection believers will have the same kind of body. (1 Corinthians 15: 49) “And just as we have born the likeness of the earthly man (Adam) so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven (Jesus).” What we will be at the resurrection is seen in the transfiguration of Jesus. (Matthew 17:1-3) When Jesus appeared in glory with Moses and Elijah they all had the same appearance. Both Moses and Elijah had glorified bodies by virtue of being with Jesus in His transfiguration. At the resurrection we will look the same!
When the Lord Jesus appeared to His disciples he said, “Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch Me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have (Luke 24:39).” The Lord Jesus said He was flesh and bone and not flesh and blood. His life’s blood had been poured out and the life that now flowed through His veins as well as His whole being was the resurrected glory and power of God. He invited them to touch Him physically and ate a piece of broiled fish in their presence. Th apostle Peter also testifies to the fact that Jesus was really alive. “But God raised Him from the dead on the third day and caused Him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen-by us who ate and drank with Him after he rose from the dead.”(Acts 10:40-41) The Lord Jesus had all the appearance of a man. He talked with the disciples on the road to Emmaus. (Luke 24:13-16) Again he spoke with Mary Magdalene after His resurrection. (John 20:14-15)
The Results of His Resurrection.
1. Our hope of Immortality is based on the Lord Jesus’ Resurrection.
(1 Peter 1:21) “Through Him you believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and glorified Him, so that your faith and hope are in God.”
Our faith as believers is based on the Resurrection of Jesus. There is no Resurrection in any one else. Mohammad, Buddha or Confucius are all dead and there is no Resurrection in them. The Resurrection of Jesus was God’s ultimate display of His power and holiness to the whole world. (Romans 1:4) Our physical resurrection is the final stage of our Salvation. It is the final stroke on the canvas of God’s masterpiece of Salvation. The Lord Jesus said; “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”(John 11:25-26)
The apostle Paul also said; “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”(Philippians 3:10-11) How does a caterpillar turn into a butterfly? This process is a mystery but it does! Who can tell how God works deep in the human heart changing us from a creature of this earth into a new heavenly creation fit for heaven? This is the wonder of the New Birth!
2. The Lord Jesus’ Resurrection guarantees that the New Birth will work.
(1 Peter 1:3-4) “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade-kept in heaven for you.”
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the truth made real to our hearts by the Holy Spirit that results in the new birth and that gives us a living hope of our physical resurrection. Not only do we have the hope of immortality but also we will receive an eternal inheritance kept by God for us in heaven when we finally arrive there. When we believe in a risen and living Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ himself begins to live in us. Jesus’ resurrection is the firm foundation of fact upon which to build our hope for the future. As the apsotle Paul wrote; “Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life.”(Romans 5:9-10)
3. The Lord Jesus’ Resurrection seals our Justification as believers.
(Romans 4:25) ‘He was delivered over to death for our sins and raised to life for our justification.”
Jesus gave His life for us as believers. When we put our trust in Him to save us God declares us justified in His sight. (Romans 5:1) Jesus’ Resurrection settles the fact that God has accepted His atoning sacrifice for our sins. The Resurrection declares this fact to be true. It declares that God has accepted us and is satisfied with the settlement that Jesus has made. When the Lord Jesus died He died as our representative before God; when He arose again He arose as our representative; He ascended as our representative; He is seated as our representative at God’s right hand. (Ephesians 1:19-23 2:4-6) As one who has been raised, ascended and seated He is declared to be God’s chosen and accepted one, and we are declared chosen, accepted and righteous in Him.
4. The LordJesus’ Resurrection gives us a High Priest in Heaven.
(Romans 8:34) “Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died-more than that, who was raised to life-is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”
Salvation begins with the atoning death of Jesus Christ and continues by the Resurrection and Intercession of Jesus Christ on our behalf. In Jesus we not only have one who shed His blood to atone for our sins but also one who has carried the offering of his blood into the Holy of Holies, i.e., into the very throne of God. Jesus presented it there and He continues to plead His blood with the Father on our behalf. (Hebrews 7:25 9:11-14) (Hebrews 4:14-16)
5. The Lord Jesus’ Resurrection guarantees our resurrection.
(1 Thessalonians 4:14-18) “We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore, encourage each other with these words.”
The Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is the great cornerstone and foundation of our faith. If Jesus has not risen from the dead then our faith is in vain. Paul said that if Jesus has not risen then let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die and that we are to be pitied of all men. However, Jesus has risen from the dead and His Resurrection is Our Resurrection. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ has robbed death of its terrors for us as believers. (1 Corinthians 15:26, 51-57) (Revelation 21:4) Let us always remember what Jesus says to us, “I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in Me will live, even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die”(John 11:25,26).