Transforming Ordinary People into Extraordinary Followers of Christ

The Jesus of Easter – Part 4 – The Relevance of the Resurrection – April 16, 2017


The central tenant of Christianity is incredible the claim that Jesus of Nazareth was raised from the dead three days after being crucified. But even if it did happen—does it matter? After all, if it did happen, it happened over two thousand years ago! I’m convinced that Jesus’ resurrection speaks to our present day needs in a way that nothing else can.

One thing is for certain: Jesus’ resurrection was the central message of the early church (Acts 4:1- 2; 1 Corinthians 15:3-8). What do we mean when we say that Jesus rose from the dead? We do not mean that Jesus merely appeared to die, but later revived (this is how Muslims seek to explain away the resurrection). We also are not saying that Jesus was merely resuscitated from the dead. Three resuscitations are recorded in the New Testament (Mark 5:21-43; Luke 7:11-17; John 11:1-46). There is a huge difference between resuscitation and a resurrection. In a resuscitation the person eventually dies again. A resurrected person is brought back to life, never to die again. With Jesus, God miraculously stepped in, blocked the normal process of decay and decomposition, and rescued Jesus out of the realm of death. But then God takes this another step. He encased Jesus’ personality in an immortal, physical body with supernatural abilities. This is what we mean by “resurrection”. And Jesus’ resurrection is of immense importance and of the utmost relevance.

[1] The resurrection assures believers of God’s forgiveness. All of us have done and said things of which we are deeply ashamed and would never want others to know about. We feel guilty because we are guilty—and no amount of self-justification can change that. But the risen Christ offers complete forgiveness (Mark 2:5-12; Matthew 26:28). Had Jesus remained dead, we should conclude that his death did not accomplish what he said it would (1 Corinthians 15:17). The resurrection, for which there is tremendous historical evidence, validates the saving purpose of Jesus’ death. It assures us of God’s forgiveness today.

[2] The resurrection assures believers of God’s transforming power. I need more than forgiveness for the past; I also need power to live a God pleasing life in the present! God is able to change human nature; he makes selfish people to be unselfish, immoral people into people of great moral character, cruel people into kind people, and he sweetens sour people! God has the power to transform you and me into the image of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Galatians 5:16-23). In the New Testament, becoming and being a Christian, is something far more radical than merely being forgiven. It is seen as the beginning of an entirely new life, a life lived in the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. When we see no evidence of the Spirit’s work in the life of someone who claims to be a Christian, it causes us to wonder whether they know Christ at all! God also is powerful enough to awaken skeptical persons to spiritual realities (Ephesians 1:18-20).

[3] Jesus’ resurrection assures believers of our own resurrection to eternal life. Christianity varies greatly in its vision for what happens after death. Many in our secular culture believe that we are born, live, die—and that’s it. Death is the end of it all; there is no afterlife. Those who have adopted this pessimistic view understandably anticipate death with a great deal of despair. Others, influenced by eastern philosophers, think of life not as a line segment, but as a circle, where everything repeats itself in an endless cycle of reincarnations. There is no evidence for this view. The New Testament paints a very different picture of our future. All who have placed their trust in Christ will be raised from the dead, and will live out eternity enjoying fellowship with God and with one another. In fact, they argue that Jesus’ resurrection is the iron clad guarantee of our own resurrection from the dead (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; John 14:1-3). For the Christian, death is not a final goodbye, it is only a “See you later!” This is the hope of Easter! In eternity we will be equipped with new, immortal resurrection bodies. The aches and pains and physical limitations that beset our present human bodies will forever be cast aside (1 Peter 1:3-5).


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