Lessons From The Resurrection

Many people are observing the day as Easter, the day appointed by man to acknowledge [at least initially] the resurrection of the Christ. Nowadays, even churches emphasize Easter-egg hunts over Christ, so it is very likely that many people simply do not know enough [or anything] about the resurrection of Jesus the Christ and why this event is of any significance. There are some important lessons worth noting for all men, though, regardless if you are a believer or not.

      First, let's back up a little so we can get the context of the resurrection, which plays a big part in understanding its significance. If we know nothing about Jesus, and if we know nothing about the events leading up to the resurrection, then the resurrection itself will not be understood correctly and it will have no meaning to us at all.

      We must begin with the fact Jesus came to this earth, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a woman (Matt. 1:18-25). He was raised as any human being would be raised, and at the approximate age of thirty began teaching throughout the region of Judea and Galilee (Luke 3:23). He proclaimed to be not just Jesus the son of Mary and Joseph the carpenter, but the very Son of God (Matt. 26:64, 65; John 10:36). Because He so angered the religious leaders and because He had done many irrefutable miracles that caused multitudes to follow Him, the religious leaders determined to put Him to death to get rid of Him and so they could hold on to their positions of power (cf. John 11:47-53).

      Because they were under Roman rule, the Jewish leaders did not have the authority to put someone to death, so they brought Him before one of the local governors who had been put in that position by their Roman rulers (Matt. 27:1, 2), but even Pilate knew Jesus had been brought to him out of envy (Matt. 27:18). Regardless, Pilate commanded Jesus be put to death, and He was condemned to die by the common means of execution in that day — a cruel, torturous death by crucifixion.

      Jesus died that cruel death on the cross (Matt. 27:50), and a man named Joseph, of Arimathea, took His body and wrapped it and put it in a tomb (Matt. 27:57-61). The religious leaders, fearful that the words of Jesus would be true [specifically, that He would rise again], asked a guard to be set on the tomb, and the request was granted, so they placed guards and sealed the tomb for good measure (Matt. 27:62-66). That was the end of it, or so they thought.

      On the third day, when some disciples went to the tomb to further prepare His body, the tomb was discovered to be opened and the body of Jesus was nowhere to be found. The women were met by an angel, who told them, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said” (Matt. 28:5, 6). Jesus had risen from the dead!

      All of this — His death, burial, and resurrection — was foretold in the Old Testament writings, and those events are a part of the basic message of the gospel that all must believe if they are to become Christians, children of God — forgiven and saved from their sins (cf. 1 Cor. 15:3, 4). And if that matter of His resurrection from the dead seems simply unbelievable, understand that there were over 500 eyewitnesses to Him being alive again (1 Cor. 15:5-8). So, if we accept this as true [and all Christians must believe and confess this, Rom. 10:9, 10], what is its significance to us?

      By The Resurrection, Jesus Was Declared To Be The Son of God. When the apostle Paul began the letter to the Christians in Rome, he described himself as “an apostle” who had been called to preach the gospel, the message now revealing what had been promised before in the Scriptures concerning Jesus, who had been born of the human lineage of David and “declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1:1-4). It should be noted here that the resurrection was a clear statement by God that the claim Jesus made to be His Son was true. How so?

      The fact that God raised Him from the dead was testimony to the truthfulness of His claim to be the Son of God because if He was a fraud or an impostor, God would not have raised Him from the dead! Just as God testified to the truthfulness of His claim “by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him” (Acts 2:22), this action of God removed all doubt of the claim and made a clear statement it was true.

      The Resurrection Rendered Satan Powerless Over Him and His People. The writer of Hebrews reveals to us that Jesus took on the body of, and in every way lived as, man “that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Heb. 2:14, 15). The word translated there as “destroy” might be better translated as "made useless," and that is certainly the case here!

      This leads into our next point, but let us just say here that, because Jesus rose from the dead, the people of God do not have to fear death any longer. As long as sin and the devil reigned throughout the world, every man would fear death because he would know he was guilty of sin and no man had a means of removing its guilt. Everyone had the dread of death because they understood God was a just God who would demand payment for their sins, and no one had a defense, for all were guilty (cf. Rom. 3:23). But, since Jesus arose from the dead and conquered death itself, that fear is no longer present for the people of God and followers of Jesus Christ because they recognize the truth that Jesus was the Son of God and Savior of the world [as previously noted], and that His death had been the redemption price paid for our sins. Now, we can face death knowing we have hope! Which is the next point:

      That Resurrection Gives All Christians Hope of A Resurrection. When Paul, in his first letter to the Christians in Corinth, addressed the false claim that there was no such thing as resurrection from the dead, he first noted that by His resurrection, Jesus “has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (those who had died; 1 Cor. 15:20). Let us note two points before we move on: (1) Firstfruits means it is literally the first of its kind; Jesus was the first to rise from the dead never to die again; and (2) firstfruits imply there are more to follow; in this case, what this means is, Jesus was the first to rise from the dead and not die again, but many others will do the same at some point later. Paul went on to reveal that this would happen when Christ comes again (1 Cor. 15:22-24).

      This hope is important because, let's face it: without a resurrection, we would all be living just for this world and for all the good and righteous deeds we might do here on earth, with nothing to look forward to — no eternal life, no heaven, and certainly no reason for rejoicing. But it is true!

      So, what does the resurrection of Jesus mean? Everything! If He had not risen, He would not have been declared to be the Son of God and our only Savior, and we would still face death with fear and have no hope of eternal life in heaven.

      What does it mean to you?           — Steven Harper