There are several dates on the Christian calendar each year that matter to many believers. We celebrate the incarnation of Christ. We may also celebrate some of the ways in which He worked through the lives of those who trusted in Him. But even though it isn't often celebrated with the same fanfare as other celebrations, the resurrection of Christ matters in more ways than we may realize.
If Jesus didn't rise from death, there would be no reason for us to gather together for worship. If Jesus didn't rise from death, there would be no point in worshipping Him or referring to ourselves as His followers. But thankfully, Christ did rise from death, proving His divinity and giving us a foretaste of what He has in store for all who trust in Him.
The resurrection of Jesus is paramount in its significance for us, and I'd like to take the next few moments to share five of the many reasons why that's so.
I. Death is defeated
One of the most emotionally challenging experiences any of us will ever experience on this earth is the death of those we love. In recent years, many of us have experienced the pain and sense of loss that come from the death of a loved one. In the past few years, death has visited several of my closest family members, and it takes time to adjust to that reality. And if I'm truly honest, I'm still adjusting.
Consider how the disciples of Christ felt just after He was crucified. Jesus was the one they had placed their deepest hopes in. They had left everything to follow Him. They fully expected that He was going to set up a visible, earthly kingdom during their lifetimes. They even expected to reign with Him in this kingdom, but then He was arrested, tried, tortured, and killed. Most of them scattered when this first took place. All of them were heartbroken.
But death didn't defeat Jesus. Rather, Jesus defeated death. On the third day after His crucifixion, Jesus began to appear in bodily form to His followers. He did this for a period of forty days before ascending back to Heaven. Jesus showed that the power and finality of death had now been broken. His disciples didn't need to grieve any longer, nor did they need to live in fear, because Jesus had accomplished the unthinkable. His body was dead, but now He had been raised back to life.
How did this impact His followers? We can see from what took place in their lives going forward that they stopped living like fearful men. They boldly took the gospel to distant and combative people who threatened their lives. But they weren't afraid of death any longer because death was defeated. Death was no longer victorious. Death no longer carried a permanent sting for those in whom Jesus lived.
How does this reality affect us? We too can live unafraid of death because we know it's a defeated foe. We'll see our believing loved ones again. We'll be granted a new, everlasting body in God's kingdom as well. In His resurrection, Jesus defeated death.
II. Union with Christ is made possible
Years ago, my sons were at Summer camp, playing a game that's similar to dodgeball, but it's more individual than "team-centered" in nature. During the game, one of the camp staff got one of my sons out, and then was immediately eliminated by my other son. In future rounds of the game, my sons made a point to work together to eliminate this person as quickly as possible. Eventually, the staff member asked them for mercy and the privilege to be united with them in an alliance since that seemed to be the only way to remain active in that particular game. They agreed.
Unity is something we come to value during the course of our lives. Many of us have often prayed for national unity, church unity, and unity in our households. But there's a form of unity that we're blessed with on a spiritual level that is directly connected to the resurrection of Christ.
Because Jesus rose from death, and lives within all who trust in Him, we are divinely enabled to be spiritually united with Him. As Paul mentions in Galatians 2:20, we are united to Christ in His crucifixion, and in our life in the flesh, because Jesus lives within us. If He didn't rise from death, this union would not be possible. But because He rose, we have the privilege to be united to Him forever.
Many times throughout Scripture, believers are now referred to as being "in Christ." This is often how our union with Him is referenced. As such, we're being told that Jesus is the source of our life. He is also the source of our strength, as well as our salvation.
And as believers who are united to our risen Savior, we are likewise united to one another. We have been made part of the body of Christ, and connected together forever as His family.
III. Our outlook is one of hope
Not long ago, I was having a conversation with someone I first met when I was in college. Since that time, we've worked together on a few things, but there's something about him that has stood out to me ever since it first came to my attention. No matter what we're talking about, he always seems to see it from a negative perspective. If the weather is nice, he'll stress the fact that it won't last. If a project is successful, he won't celebrate the win without pointing out everything in his imagination that might go wrong with it someday. His perspective is tolerable in small doses, but doesn't reflect a mindset I'm eager to personally adopt.
Once we come to know Christ, our outlook toward the future changes. Through faith in Jesus, God the Father has caused us to experience a new birth. Our first birth was physical in nature, and had an obvious outcome. Our new birth, however, is filled with hope, because it has been secured by the resurrection of Christ from the dead.
When Scripture uses the word "hope," it isn't speaking about a wish or a fantasy. It's talking about something that is certain because it's anchored to the nature or the promises of God. Throughout His word, the Lord has assured us of many things. He has assured us that He will be present with us, will strengthen us, will protectively hold us in His hand, and will answer our prayers according to His perfect will. He has also assured us that every single trial that takes place in the lives of those who have faith in Jesus will work together for our good.
According to Peter's letter, this living hope that we're blessed with is directly connected to the resurrection of Christ.
IV. Believers will also be raised
Do you see the pattern that's present in these verses? Do you hear the message the Lord is trying to drill into our minds? Do you understand what He has in store for those who are united to Christ through faith? The word of God assures us that just as Jesus was raised from death, so too will all who are "in Christ" be raised.
In the book of Romans, Paul stated that those who are united to Christ in a death like His will also experience a resurrection like His. In the gospel of John, Jesus informed us that the hour is coming when those who are in their tombs will hear His voice and be raised to the "resurrection of life." And in the book of 1 Thessalonians, Paul speaks of those who are "in Christ" being raised and living forever with the Lord.
Christ's resurrection was a foretaste of what He has in store for His body, the church.
V. Christ's authority to judge the world was demonstrated
We live in an interesting time. I'm glad to live in this era, and it's clear from God's word that it isn't an accident that we're living when we live. It's certainly interesting to observe the polarizing ways in which Jesus is perceived in our era. Some utterly reject Him and His claims. Others enthusiastically worship Him, call Him Lord, and look forward to the day when they will see Him face-to-face.
According to Acts 17:31 and 2 Corinthians 5:10, there is a day coming when the world will give an account to Jesus. We will stand before the judgment seat of Christ. I don't know if that thought is frightening or comforting to your heart, but it is your reality. Because Jesus took on flesh, lived a sinless life as a man on this earth, then rose from death, His authority to sit in judgment over humanity was demonstrated through His resurrection.
The thought of giving an account before Him gives me pause because I know there are many actions I have taken, and words I have said, that I wish I could take back. But I'm also grateful for the fact that when I stand before Him, I won't stand as one who is condemned. Jesus took my condemnation upon Himself at the cross, and as Scripture teaches us, there is no condemnation in store for those who are united to Christ.
Scripture clearly demonstrates that the resurrection of Christ matters for us in more ways than we may initially realize. As we wrap up this brief look at why the resurrection of Christ, should matter to us, let me finish up by asking a few questions that I hope will provoke additional thought.
1. Are you living like death has been defeated by Jesus, or does it still master your emotions?
2. Are you confident of your union with Christ, or do you still feel distant from Him?
3. Are you hopeful toward the future, or are your thoughts toward the future mostly negative?
4. Are you confident that you'll experience a resurrection like Christ did?
5. Are you ready to give an account of your life to Jesus?
Christ invites us to know Him, and if at this point you feel distant from Him or fearful of coming before Him, remember the invitation He has given you to know Him, experience new life through Him, and be forgiven by Him...
© John Stange, 2019