Saturday, April 30

The Meaning of the Resurrection

The past several entries have been dedicated to the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah, who is God the Son. Having examined different theories skeptics use to explain away the resurrection of Jesus, we have come to the following conclusions: Jesus did not on the cross, the tomb was empty, the disciples did not steal His body, nor did they hallucinate the appearances, and the women did not go to the wrong tomb. The only explanation which fits the evidence is that Jesus rose from the dead. But what does this mean for humanity? 

The resurrection of Jesus is important for several reasons. For one, if Jesus rose from the dead, this means that He proved His deity, and Christianity ought to be considered by all. This also perfectly illustrates that we serve a God who has control over all things: both life and death. If He can raise the dead to life, He can do anything. But only the power of the one who created life has the power to restore it, the Creator, God. The resurrection of Jesus Christ, God the Son, gives us a clear reminder of God's sovereignty and power. Nothing is too hard for the Lord.

But the resurrection of Jesus has another meaning, something very important. As Paul points out in several letters, if Christ has been raised, our resurrection is guaranteed. Christianity alone has a founder who rose from the dead. The tomb of Confucius, the tomb of Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha), the tomb of Muhammad: all occupied. The tomb of Jesus: empty. God transcends death, it cannot hold power over Him. We ought to be grateful that God took on flesh to atone for the past, present and future sins of humanity, for three days submitting Himself to death - but not held by its power, for on the third day He rose from the dead, with a glorified body.

Just as Romans 6:5b conveys, "...we will certainly also be united with Him in a resurrection like His." Paul describes the importance of the resurrection in 1st Corinthians 15. We are told that "if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that He raised Christ from the dead. But He did not raise Him from if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins." (1st Corinthians 15:14-17)

Paul goes on to say, "Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all others. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a human being. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive." (1st Corinthians 15:18-22) If Jesus was not resurrected, then Christianity would be the biggest lie in all of history. However, the evidence fits the resurrection of Jesus, not the theories brought up in previous entries.

The power of the resurrection and guarantee of the believer's resurrection is affirmed in 1st Corinthians 15:55, when Paul is speaking of the parousia, "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" What does this have to do with the resurrection? Verse 58 gives us that answer. "... you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." In verses 29-31, Paul reminds us that because we will be resurrected, we can suffer persecution for Christ's sake, as He did for us.

The importance of the resurrection is simply this: "According to the Lord's 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. [Those who have died] 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 together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air." (1st Thessalonians 4:13-17)

Therefore it can be determined that the resurrection of Jesus is important in that it demonstrated that God accepted Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf. It proved that God has the power to raise us from the dead, has the power over both life and death, and truly is the Creator. The resurrection of Jesus also guarantees that those who believe in Him will not remain dead, but will be resurrected, and have eternal life.1st Corinthians 15 is a major chapter on the importance of the resurrection. Aside from the aforementioned items pointed out by Paul, the chapter provides the following:
  • It begins by Paul citing an early Christian creed, providing evidence for Jesus' resurrection. On the resurrection of Jesus, Christianity stands or falls. It is the basis of the whole Christian faith. Most of those who saw Jesus alive were still alive when this public document was written, and could confirm the creed's veracity.
  • The resurrection of Jesus also provides that those who believe in Him will be resurrected. 
  • Those who will be resurrected will have a glorified body, a body better than that which was buried. It will have no scars, for the only person in Heaven with scars is Jesus. As compared to the present body, the glorified body will by far outshine it. 
  • This chapter also provides that in the end, when Jesus comes to reign, death itself will be defeated. This event is also referred to in Revelation 20:11-15.
  • Paul conveys that because of all this, we can sing songs of praise in thanksgiving to God, in victory. Even though we may face hardships on the earth, we are through faith in Christ guaranteed that we will be resurrected. 
The believer's resurrection is referred to all throughout Scripture. Job 27:25-26 says, "I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God." Psalm 49:14-15 says, "They are like sheep and are destined to die; (but the upright will prevail over them in the morning). Their forms will decay in the grave, far from their princely mansions. But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead; He will surely take me to Himself." Ezekiel 37 is all about the resurrection of the dead, in which God shows Ezekiel a vision of dry bones becoming glorified bodies.

Daniel 12:2 says, "Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt." Jesus Himself said in Matthew 22:30-32, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. But about the resurrection of the dead - have you not read what God said to you, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?' He is not the God of the dead but of the living." (see also Luke 20:34-38) In Luke 14:14 He says, "and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

John 5:29 says, "those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned." Jesus conveys in John 6:39-40, "And this is the will of Him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those He has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day." But Jesus says more on the resurrection of the dead, and not just the resurrection of believers.

In John 6:44 He says, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day." (see also verse 54) Jesus, God the Son, made a direct claim in John 11:25-26, "I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?" We also find much on the resurrection throughout the remainder of the New Testament.

Take Acts 24:15 for example. "and I have the same hope in God as these people themselves have, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked." Paul tells us in Philippians 3:10-11, "I want you to know Christ - yes, to know the power of His resurrection and participation in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead." We are guaranteed in Colossians 3:1-4, "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, and not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory."

Hebrews 11:35 says, "Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection." John tells us in 1st John 3:2, "Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." Revelation also refers to the resurrection of the dead.

Revelation 20:4-6 says, "I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years."

Verses 11-15 say, "Then I saw a great white throne and Him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from His presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and everyone was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. All whose names were not found written in the lamb's book of life were thrown into the lake of fire."

The resurrection of Jesus guarantees the resurrection of the dead. The Incarnation guaranteed life.
Troy Hillman

1 comment:

  1. Abraham’s tomb occupied!
    Moses’ tomb occupied!
    Confucius’ tomb occupied!
    Gautama Buddha’s tomb occupied!
    Mohammed’s tomb occupied!
    Jesus’ tomb EMPTY!!!