Key Scriptures: Matthew 28; Mark 16; Luke 24; John 20-21; Acts 1:1-11; I Corinthians 15
Written by: Charlie Self
Every Easter, around the world, billions of believers declare to each other, “He is Risen!” and respond with, “He is Risen, indeed!”
“Every Sunday is Easter when believers realize they live in the Spirit and begin to experience new life today, even while waiting for the Return of the Lord.” (Gordon Fee). Here we see victory over every opposing power, especially death and the fear of death. In our Risen Lord, we see a preview of our future – real, transformed bodies and spirits ready to worship and work under the reign of Christ (Romans 8; Colossians 1:15-22). Easter is not a psychological projection of wishful thinking (the disciples were astonished), or some kind of spiritual apparition (Jesus invited Thomas to touch him and served breakfast at the seashore).
The Gospels all record the astonishment of the women at the tomb as they discover Jesus is alive. All the Gospels detail of awe of the disciples as they see the Lord and begin to realize (again) that God’s kingdom is present in ways they did not expect (Acts 1). The political and religious opponents spread rumors that the disciples stole the body…and these rumors persist into the 21st century. Eventually, as many as 500 will witness the Risen Lord.
There is no historical event more studied and more attacked that the Resurrection. If it can be undermined and found false, the entire Christian message has no meaning and power (I Corinthians 15). Why should anyone suffer if Jesus is just a good Rabbi and martyr? If it is true, we see in the Risen Jesus a preview of the future of every believer and validation that death does not have the final word!
Jesus appears to his followers, instructing them about the kingdom, commissioning them to make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:44-49; John 20:19-21; Acts 1:8), and reassuring them that he will be present with them through the Person of the Holy Spirit (John 14-16; Luke 24:44-47; Acts 1:8; 2:4).
No matter what our trials, we have a hope that is rooted in history and we have victory over sin and sorrow through the Holy Spirit. We can expect a life of resurrection power and suffering (Philippians 3), a life filled with the miraculous and with punctuated by real challenges.
The certainty of the Resurrection is what caused this small group of Jesus followers to become millions of Christians. The Resurrection proclaims that God is working now to restore all things and invites all believers to join is this mission of reconciliation and repair (2 Corinthians 5:18-6:2). Will we joyfully receive the work of the Holy Spirit in our life and begin to live the future now, sharing our faith, doing good, and honoring God in all we do?