Sunday Morning Word: Jesus Has Risen
As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.”
Mark 16:5-6 (NIV)
What is the Resurrection?
Good Easter Sunday morning, and welcome to another edition of Sunday Morning Word. Today, we will discuss the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but first, what does "resurrection" actually mean?
Webster's New World College Dictionary defines resurrection as "rising from the dead, or coming back to life; the state of having risen from the dead."
In defining resurrection, other dictionaries, like the Macmillan English Dictionary, reference the Bible and Christianity, describing it as the rising of Christ on the third day after the Crucifixion.
I find it fascinating that some dictionaries use Christ as the definition of resurrection, because without Him, would there even be a word? Probably not. There's no reason to create a word from something that doesn't exist or has never happened, right?
Think about it. Other than Jesus Christ, when has there ever been a true case of someone rising from the dead? Even in books and movies that feature magical beings like genies or witches or mad scientists, resurrection is either impossible, or if it is possible, the people risen from the dead don't come back as themselves, but as something sinister and dangerous that eventually has to be extinguished.
Without Jesus Christ, resurrection would simply be a theory or a fantasy. Even our dictionaries say there isn't a resurrection without Jesus, so let's look into why Christ's resurrection is so important.
Why is Jesus' Resurrection Important in Christianity?
Today is the day we remember the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Some call today Easter Sunday, others say Resurrection Sunday. Whatever the terminology, today has great significance in Christian doctrine.
There is great power in Jesus' resurrection because if he had not risen from the dead, Christianity would be a dead faith. "And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith" (1 Corinthians 15:14). If Jesus had not risen from the dead, he would have been like any other man on this earth who lived and withered away like the grass, but we know that's not true.
Last week, when we discussed the importance of forgiveness, we mentioned that in the Old Testament, the Jewish people sacrificed a small animal as payment for their sins. However, it was only in their human nature to sin again. Even if that sin was telling a little white lie, it was still a stark stain in the eyes of God. Hence, they would have to continuously sacrifice an animal for their atonement, and that didn't even begin to account for the people on earth who weren't Jewish.
This is where Jesus comes in, because while we sometimes overwhelm ourselves with talk of God being a God of wrath and vengeance, we often forget that He is also a God of love. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him" (John 3:16-17).
Only the Son of God, which is actually God himself, could live a perfect life free of sin and then die so that ALL of mankind may be saved. But he didn't just die. On the third day, he defied death, and rose from the grave. This is why we can have everlasting life. Our sins are not only washed away through the sacrifice of Jesus, but because he rose, so to will we. "And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you" (Romans 8:11).
All of Christianity hangs on this one belief: that God came to Earth in flesh through Jesus Christ, died on the cross, and rose from the dead so that we could live. If this never happened, everything we believe and teach would mean nothing.
Is There Proof of Jesus' Resurrection?
When Paul writes to the Corinthian church, he says, "Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures," (1 Corinthians 15: 3-4). The "Scriptures" he is referencing to don't come from the New Testament, as it hasn't been written yet, but from the Old Testament.
The proof of Jesus' resurrection first appears as early as Genesis. After Adam and Eve, enticed by the serpent, sin against God and eat the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God lays their curses down upon them. To the serpent, he says, "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel" (Genesis 3:15). Some versions of the Bible replace the word "offspring" with "seed," which is peculiar because we know that the seed comes from the man. Even simple biology teaches us that while women give birth, if there's no fertilization of an egg, there is no child. However, this is not a typo, God did not make a mistake, there is one child who was born of a woman, conceived in the Holy Spirit. That child is Jesus Christ. Literally five minutes after Adam and Eve sinned, God has already come up with a solution to save the world! The New King James Version of the Bible even capitalizes "her Seed," indicating that it is referring to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Throughout the Old Testament, Jesus' sacrifice is prophesied. A scripture that most visually describes the death of Jesus for our sins comes from Isaiah 53:5; "But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed." But it doesn't stop at his death; "[T]hough the Lord makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days . . . After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied" (Isaiah 53: 10-11). The scripture continues on to prophesy the resurrection of Christ and the spreading of his gospel after he bore our sins and interceded for use.
Another example of Jesus' resurrection comes from Psalm 16:10; "[B]ecause you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay." In the New Testament, both Peter and Paul refer back to this verse when they preach to the people about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. (Acts 2:24-28; Acts 13:34-37).
As for the New Testament, all four Gospels document Jesus' empty tomb (Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-10). In John, when Peter and the other disciple went to investigate Jesus' tomb, they found the "strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus' head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen" (John 20:6-8). However, Jesus was not there.
Further proof of Jesus resurrection is that after his death, he appeared to many witnesses, including Mary Magdalene and the twelve disciples. Even Paul (Saul), a non-believer and persecutor of Christians had an encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-19), and was converted. Jesus also appeared to Thomas, who was skeptical of Jesus' resurrection. "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe" (John 20:27). Thomas wanted to see for himself the holes in Jesus' hands from being nailed it the cross, he wanted to see the gash in Jesus' side from where he was pierced, so Jesus came and showed him. Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (John 20:29).
More than 2,000 years after his death, no one alive today has physically seen Jesus, but we know he lives, we know he has risen. The documentation in the Bible validates that. However, if we just look within ourselves, we know it's true, because when we accepted Jesus Christ into our lives, everything changed; we are saved. (1 Corinthians 15:1-2). Jesus promised not to leave us orphans (John 14:18), he promised us the Holy Spirit as a Counselor, and while Jesus may have ascended into Heaven thousands of years ago, he lives in each of us through the Holy Spirit. "Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you" (John 14:19-20).
That's the only proof we need.
He Is Alive (spoken word)
Do You Believe Jesus Rose from the Dead?
© 2016 Nortina Simmons