Because of the Resurrection, Christians receive both eternal life (John 11:25) and spiritual power (Eph. 1:19, 20). Christ’s resurrection also provides for the future resurrection of believers (1 Cor. 15:20) and is the key to victory in life because of the union with Christ (Eph. 2:6).
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The resurrection of Christ was proclaimed eagerly by the early church. This miracle was considered an essential part of the gospel message. Surely Christ had died, but more importantly, He had been raised. More than just a suffering Savior, Jesus is our living Lord.
Here are 10 facts about Christ’s resurrection that Paul highlighted in 1 Corinthians.
Christ’s resurrection was prophesied in the Old Testament Scriptures (Ps. 16:10).
The risen Christ appeared to more than five hundred witnesses, including Paul.
If Jesus did not rise from the dead, the gospel message is pointless, empty, and dishonest. Jesus Christ would not be alive, interceding for us, and we would not be able to place our hope in a glorious future with Him. The Resurrection is central to the gospel.
According to Paul, “if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (15:17; see Rom. 4:25). Christ’s resurrection, not merely His death on the Cross, secured our justification. His resurrection was a sign of God’s approval of Christ’s sacrifice for our sins. In short, no Resurrection equals no forgiveness of sin.
The resurrection of Christ was designed to reveal what lies ahead for those who put their trust in Jesus (15:20 –57). Paul called Christ “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (15:20). This Old Testament image (see Ex. 23:16 –19) means that Christ serves as both an example and a guarantee of what we can expect. Because He has conquered death (15:26, 27, 54 –57), we need not fear death. Because He now enjoys a glorified body, we also can expect to inherit a “spiritual body” (15:44 – 46) after this mortal one wears out.
Our dead, physical body will one day be resurrected.
We will once again be both material and immaterial beings, our soul being reunited with our resurrected body.
The power behind this marvelous, yet mysterious, event is Jesus, the self-declared “resurrection and the life” (John 11:25).
Our physical body will be altered and changed to prepare us for the life to come. If Jesus is the prototype, we will still be recognizable, but our new body will be capable of supernatural activities (see Luke 24:31, 36, 51).
Our resurrection will take place when Jesus returns (see 1 Thess. 4:13 –18).
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Holy Week, the last week of Lent, begins on Palm Sunday and ends on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday. Good Friday is the day that receives the most attention, and for good reason. Yet the entire week offers an opportunity for us to deepen our relationship with Christ and our appreciation for His sacrifice.
With that goal in mind, here are two words to focus on as we prepare our hearts for Holy Week.
Hebrews 4:15 offers this assurance: “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Jesus is able can empathize with our human frailties because He became fully human. What we don’t often consider is that the potential for empathy runs both ways. We can’t fathom what it means to be fully God, but we have a pretty good handle on what it means to be fully human. We know all too well what loneliness and dread feel like.
So, we imagine what it must have been like for Jesus to enter Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to the cheers of the crowd—alone in the knowledge that, in a matter of days, the people’s adulation would curdle into disappointment and then hatred. Imagine being able to comprehend the full measure of God’s wrath—which Jesus could do, since He is God—and realizing that wrath would soon be turned against you.
Imagine knowing that, in a matter of hours, you were going to suffer an excruciating death—and having no one to talk to about it, no one to give you comfort. Jesus’ disciples couldn’t seem to grasp what was about to happen, even though Jesus had tried to make them understand time and time again.
When His burden became almost too much to bear, Jesus turned to His three closest friends for help. He asked a simple favor of them: to stay awake and keep watch for those who would betray Him while He focused His attention on the most intense prayer session of His life. All three of them fell asleep.
Jesus watched His followers scatter when His enemies came for Him. He felt the betrayal of Judas Iscariot and the denials of Peter. He was rejected, taunted, and beaten by the human race He had come to save.
The question is, can we feel it? Can we empathize, even slightly, with what Jesus must have experienced? Let that be our first aim this Holy Week.
Let our second aim be to embrace the tension of Holy Week. To do that, we must look at it from a first-century perspective. Easter Sunday is the most joyous day of the Christian calendar. Yet its full impact can’t be felt unless we understand the uncertainty that preceded Jesus’ resurrection. Easter Sunday is the surprise ending to the greatest cliffhanger in human history.
Keep in mind that Jesus’ death was an especially cruel blow to those who had embraced His teachings. Jesus had released them from the burdens of Old Testament law. He had shown them a new way. He had promised everlasting life.
He had given them hope, direction, and purpose.
And when He died, all of that supposedly died with Him. His message was tied to His identity. If He was not who He claimed to be, His promises and the truth He spoke were null and void. If He could be silenced by death, so could everything He stood for.
So, on that Sabbath, the Silent Saturday of Holy Week, all must have seemed lost.
Or almost all.
A flicker of hope remained. Someone paying very close attention would have recognized that the events surrounding Jesus’ death followed a familiar pattern—one that Jesus Himself had predicted. “From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day” (Matt. 16:21).
Someone paying very close attention would have recognized that the fate of humankind hung in the balance that Saturday. The apostle Paul expresses that tension well in 1 Corinthians 15:14: “And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.”
If the grave held Him, all was lost. Death would remain undefeated. There would still be a great chasm between God and humanity. In Israel, the Jewish people would settle back into their religious routines. And the rabbi from Nazareth would be forgotten within a few years.
If, on the other hand, the grave could not hold Him, the world would never be the same.
The Bible is a collection of 66 books written by many writers over a vast time period, and yet it’s the unified Word of God.
1 TRUTH from 1 SOURCE of INSPIRATION
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The story of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection will pique the curiosity of spiritual seekers this Easter season. The question for Jesus’ followers is how to make the most of the opportunity. How can we help people who know little more than the basics of the Easter story understand its full implications? Here are three ideas to get you started.
In order to convince Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, to release the Hebrew people from slavery, God sent 10 plagues on Egypt. The tenth and final plague was the death of every firstborn child. The only way for people to escape the plague was to sacrifice an unblemished lamb and paint its blood on the doorposts of their homes. When the angel of death saw the blood of the lamb, it passed over that household. The event came to be known and celebrated as Passover.
Some 1,500 years later, God’s plan of salvation for the human race was unveiled—and it echoed the Passover in Exodus. The key to salvation was the sacrifice of an unblemished lamb—in this case, a perfect representative of the human race. The only way to escape the punishment of death for our sins was to figuratively cover ourselves with the blood of the sacrificial lamb.
To people who are unfamiliar with the Bible story, the crucifixion may seem like the very definition of cruel and unusual punishment. They wonder, how could a loving God allow His Son to suffer like that?
The best place to start addressing those concerns is John 14:6. That’s where Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” There is no boast or pride in Jesus’ words. He is helping the world understand that only He can bridge the separation between God and humankind.
Sin created the separation. According to God’s plan, only a perfect sacrifice can pay the penalty for sin. But no human has ever been perfect, so God sent His only Son to take on human form and live a sinless life in order to become that sacrifice. Only Jesus’ sacrifice could satisfy God’s perfect justice and holiness. So the way to the Father spoken of in John 14:6 passed through the cross and the tomb.
Only Jesus was able to conquer sin by living an unblemished life. Only Jesus was able to conquer death by emerging from the tomb.
With so many profound spiritual truths to celebrate, we run the risk of confusing spiritual seekers by including something as frivolous as an imaginary bunny in our Easter traditions. The good news is that profound spiritual truths don’t always have to be celebrated in profound ways. You can have Easter fun with your kids while you focus on spiritual truths.
Help your family understand that profound doesn’t necessarily mean solemn.
SIGN UP BONUS
The season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday. On the calendar that’s a span of 46 days. However, the six Sundays that fall within that span are not counted, which means there are 40 official days of Lent. Those 40 days represent the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness fasting and preparing for His public ministry.
For Christians, the season of Lent is a time to prepare for Easter. It’s a time for us to examine ourselves and repent; a time to pray, fast, and deny ourselves; a time to read and meditate on God’s Word.
Lent is a time of great reverence, punctuated by six “mini-Easter” Sundays. During these six interludes, a spirit of joy leavens our solemn observance as we anticipate Christ’s resurrection.
Here are three things to keep in mind as the season of Lent approaches.
Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus surrendered to the will of His Heavenly Father. He taught His disciples to surrender when they prayed to God, “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10). Jesus understood better than anyone that surrendering to God’s will is not an easy thing to do. As the events leading to His arrest unfolded, surrender became more and more difficult. The cross loomed—and, with it, unimaginable suffering.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus poured out His anguish to His Heavenly Father. He even asked that the cup of suffering be taken away from Him. And then He followed it up with the ultimate words of surrender: “nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will” (Luke 22:42).
Jesus’ attitude of obedient surrender was key to God’s plan of salvation. It was also an example for His people to follow.
In the season of Lent, Christians throughout the world answer the call to surrender. Believers from a variety of denominations and backgrounds—people who have little in common aside from their devotion to Christ—unite in self-reflection to prepare for Easter Sunday. The ways in which they choose to mark the Lent season may differ, but in their commitment to denying themselves and surrendering to God, they share common ground. Lent inspires a powerful spirit of unity among Christ’s followers.
Even though “I’m giving it up for Lent” has become a punch line of sorts in our culture, Lent is not a season for commiserating in misery. Everyone who observes Lent does so in an individual manner. Each person charts a unique 40-day spiritual regimen. Many people choose to deny themselves something they love for the duration of the season as they surrender themselves to God.
Whatever we choose to give up—whether it’s chocolate, meat, social media, or something else—the fact that we’re giving it up is a private matter between ourselves and God. No one else needs to know. In fact, no one else should even notice what we’re doing. Jesus Himself said so.
Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. (Matt. 6:16–18)
For additional reading, check out this article on Jesus’ Seven “I Am” Statements.
ENCOUNTER THE BIBLE ALONGSIDE THE GREAT VOICES OF THE CHURCH, PAST AND PRESENT
Many things have changed over the past 2,000 years. The good news of Jesus Christ isn’t one of them.