Before you form a preconceived opinion from my title–this is not about my condemnation of family traditions; the ‘do’s and ‘don’t’s of the Easter season.
After reading a full-page in my local newspaper the other day, I couldn’t help notice our local area churches’ upcoming Easter activities advertised, and it made me question…
I simply believe we haven’t grasped the significance of the DEATH & RESURRECTION of Jesus Christ. Oh, most of us know the ‘story,’ of what happened over 2,000 years ago, but it didn’t stop at the Cross.
POST’S Scripture Focus: 1 Corinthians 15:1 – 15:25
Manuel Gonzales was the first rescue worker to reach 33 miners trapped or 69 days in a Chilean mine explosion in 2010. At great risk to his own life, he voluntarily went underground more than 2000 feet, to bring the trapped men back to the surface. We all watched in amazement as one by one, each miner was rescued and transported to freedom [See Footnote [i] ].
We need to come to a conclusion today that the RESURRECTION of Jesus Christ is…
–more than a fairytale,
–more than a legend,
–and more than some religious symbol.
It is a historical fact that is indisputable.
Billy Graham once said, “There is more evidence that Jesus rose from the dead then there is that Julius Caesar ever lived or that Alexander the Great died at the age of thirty-three.” [See Footnote [ii] ].
How can Billy Graham make such a statement? Is there evidence that makes believing in the Resurrection more than a leap of ‘blind faith’?
“For the RESURRECTION to have any significance, JESUS had to be dead first” (Dr. Norman Geisler – When Skeptics Ask; p. 120.)
Some have said that Jesus just passed out and was revived later in his tomb. HELLO!! Christ suffered horribly and eventually died with the beginning at the Garden of Gethsemane, where “His sweat was like drops of blood” (Luke 22:44).
His suffering continued throughout His interrogations by Annas and Caiaphas, hitting him in the face, spit upon and beaten, and continued when taken to Pilate, flogged, given a crown of thorns, spit upon and struck repeatedly on the head. The flogging alone was so brutal that it was amazing He lasted until His crucifixion.
And then there was the CRUCIFIXION itself!
“The Roman system of crucifixion had been fine tuned to produce maximum pain. In fact, the word excruciating (literally “out of the cross”) had to be invented to fully codify its horror.”
They used 5 to 7 inch spikes to hammer him to the wooden beams of the cross.
And there is more!
John 19:31-37 gives the account of the guards breaking the legs of the thieves to hasten their death by asphyxiation. But when they came to JESUS, He was already dead and they speared His side instead.
If he wasn’t DEAD…he would be dead now!
– EMPTY TOMB
Matthew 27:51-61 gives an account of Jesus’ BURIAL.
Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the religious right, the Sanhedrin, placed Jesus’ body in his tomb. This account also says that Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting opposite the tomb, so they knew where it was.
The next day, the Sanhedrin came up with a plan…just in case the disciples might have plans in stealing Jesus’ body, faking a resurrection–getting Pilate’s order to post a guard and seal the tomb. [Read Matthew 27:62-66]
The tomb was discovered EMPTY because it was EMPTY!
Nobody got the tombs mixed up.
Nobody stole the body.
It was, EMPTY, period!
One of the greatest PROOFS of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ was His post-resurrection appearances.
1 Corinthians 15:5b-6 ~ NIV bible
[5b]…He appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.  After that, He appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.
More than 500 people!
There were surely many people who could testify to the trustworthiness of this statement. Several hundred. Paul’s statement had plenty of eyewitness testimony to back it up or disprove it if false.
– TRANSFORMATION REALITY
The reality is that a TRANSFORMATION of Jesus’ followers took place.
This is evidence of the reality of the RESURRECTION–
This small group of disciples went from hiding to preaching in a very short time. And, they were willing to go through pain, suffering and even death.
“Nobody willingly dies for something that they know is false” (Lee Strobel, “Case for Easter”.)
They knew Jesus had died, knew there was an empty tomb, and they had seen Him.
And the REALITY of the Resurrection’s transforming POWER didn’t stop with the eyewitnesses, but within weeks of the Resurrection, not just one, but an entire community of at least ten thousand Jews were willing to give up the very sociological and theological TRADITIONS that had given them their national identity. [The Case for the Resurrection! – He is risen! –He is risen…www.chiptape.com]
The Relevance of the Resurrection –
Christ’s Resurrection proves He was God, and not an imposter. In John 2, Jesus chased out the money changers in the Temple because they’d turned God’s Temple into a marketing venture.
The Jews asked Him, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” This is what Jesus told them:
“Destroy the temple, and I will raise it again in three days” (John 2:19 NIV).
They thought he was referring to the Temple building they were in. But verse 21 tells that He was referring to His body. He delivered on the miraculous sign, proving who He was.
The Resurrection proves Jesus to be the Son of God; brings us face to face with the FACT that He is who He claimed to be. God in the flesh!
The founders of every other religion DIED and stayed DEAD!
JESUS ROSE AGAIN!
This is important to all pf mankind. It forces people to make a decision in life. Since Christ Jesus IS who He claimed to be, how will the world respond to Him?
The Resurrection makes your Salvation possible –
Without the Resurrection of Jesus, every person is still DEAD in their sins (Romans 4:25).
“If Jesus died and was never raised, then His death did nothing to accomplish JUSTIFICATION.
God raising him from the dead showed acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice. If God left Jesus in the grave, then the SACRIFICE was not accepted and no one has received cleansing from sin. The condemnation for sin is death (Rom. 6:23). To still be under condemnation means that ALL people will be given the ultimate penalty for their sins.” [Life Application Bible Commentary]
Paul writes “And if Christ has not risen, then our preaching is in vain [it amounts to nothing] and your faith is devoid of truth and is fruitless (without effect, empty, imaginary, and unfounded)…And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is mere delusion, and you are still in your sins [under the control and penalty of sin]. And further, those who have died in [spiritual fellowship and union with] Christ have perished (are lost)!” [1 Corinthians 15:14, 17-18 AMP).
If JESUS didn’t rise then you are still dead in your sins and your Christian faith is worthless, and anyone you’ve known who died a believer is just as damned as an unbeliever.
– The RESURRECTION makes YOUR Resurrection possible
You and I are spirit and body. Unlike the beliefs of the great Greek philosophers, who thought the body was evil and something we should want to be released from.
God made our bodies as part of who we are and they complete us.
Right now our bodies are affected by SIN and the body dies, BUT…God has a plan to RESURRECT our bodies to perfection.
These resurrected bodies, our current bodies will be TRANSFORMED (When I look in the mirror in the mornings, I say Hallelujah!) and will be bodies completely perfect and dominated by the Spirit rather than the sinful nature.
I especially like what the apostle Paul tells us in Romans 8 (NIV):
 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.  For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?
Our spirits have been SAVED, BUT…we are awaiting the day for our bodies that are made completely new that frees us from the ugliness of SIN and totally be dominated by the Holy Spirit.
Resurrection is our HOPE, our GUARANTEE!
And, 2 Corinthians 5:5 says…
Now He Who has fashioned us [preparing and making us fit] for this very thing is God, Who also has given us the [Holy] Spirit as a guarantee [of the fulfillment of His promise]. (Amplified Bible)
Our resurrection is only made possible by the resurrection of Christ Jesus. Christ’s RESURRECTION guarantees our own bodily resurrection.
The Bible refers to Him as being the ‘firstfruits,’ guaranteeing the whole harvest of which you and I are a part…IF…we are in Christ.
But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes through man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn; Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him (1 Corinthians 15:20-23 NIV).
“Is it EASTER yet?”
LIVING IN THE “EGG KINGDOM” –
Humpty Dumpty, A NURSERY RHYME of old, most of us know by heart. I find that there is an analogy to be found in this classic tale that lines up with this Blog-post.
I remember that egg-shaped character sitting on a wall and fell and all the king’s horses and the king’s men couldn’t put him back again.
You and I are broken because of SIN.
There is nothing anyone can do to fix us. We are utterly helpless and hopeless to stand in judgment before God in our sin.
The Story of “PHILIP’S EGG” [See Footnote [iii] ] –
Little Philip, born with Down’s syndrome, attended a third-grade Sunday School class with several eight-year-old boys and girls. Typical of that age, children didn’t readily accept Philip with his differences. But because of a creative teacher, they began to care about Philip and accept him as part of the group, though not fully.
The Sunday after Easter, the teacher brought Leggs pantyhose containers, the kind that look like large EGGS.
Each receiving one, the children were told to go outside on that spring day, find some symbol of new life, and put it in the egg-like container.
Back in the classroom, they shared their new-life symbols, opening the containers one by one in a surprise fashion and after running about the church property in wild confusion, the students returned to the classroom, placing the containers on the table.
Surrounded by the children, the teacher began to open them one by one. After each one, whether flower, butterfly or leaf, the class would ooh and aah.
Then one was opened, revealing nothing inside. The children exclaimed, “That’s stupid. That’s not fair! Somebody didn’t do their assignment.”
Philip spoke up, “That’s mine.” “Philip, you don’t ever do things right!” the student points out. “There’s nothing there!” “I did so do it,” Philip insisted. “I did do it. It’s empty; the tomb was empty!” Silence followed. From then on, Philip became a full member of the class.
Philip died not long after that from an infection most normal children would have shrugged off. At the funeral this class of eight-year-olds marched up to the altar, not with flowers, but with their Sunday school teacher, each to lay on it an empty pantyhose EGG.
The JOY of Resurrection Sunday Morning!
While you may be broken like Humpty Dumpty because of sin, unfixable by anyone in the world, and because that tomb is genuinely empty and Jesus is alive and well…what He did on the cross for you and I, paying for our sins, we’ve been given an opportunity. Not only to be fixed, but to become a NEW CREATION and to have fellowship with God.
That’s the Joy of Resurrection morning.
God can fix you spiritually and you can have the HOPE that He will one day complete your redemption by redeeming your body to be like Jesus’ body. There is no JOY without the relevancy of the Resurrection and without it, you have no life!
Credits & Footnotes:
Footnote [i] : Our Daily Bread REDEEMED, Pg. Devotion: Day Nine.
Footnote [ii]: Hank Hanegraaff Resurrection – Publisher: W. Publishing Group.
Footnote [iii]: Christianity Today.com – Philip’s Egg by Harry Pritchett Jr. in the Leadership Journal Magazine.
Bible Translations: New International Version (NIV), except where noted in the text.
Photo Credits: Google Image Search.