Easter Sunday is rightly celebrated with the joyful exclamation, “He lives!” Not only history but eternity pivots on the resurrection of Jesus. Because of this, Paul declares the bodily resurrection of Jesus an essential doctrine of Christ faith, a matter of “first importance.”[i] So we join in with the joyful outburst, “He is risen! Yes, Christ is risen indeed.” But there’s more …
1. Christ lives ...
There is nothing clearer in the Bible than that Jesus came back to life with a real body: the grave-shrouds were empty and folded up;[ii] on seeing and hearing him, Mary is told not to cling to his body[iii] (something impossible if it was not real) and Jesus tells his disciples to touch him, pointing out that touching him was only possible because he had actual flesh and bones;[iv] he eats with his disciples;[v] he talks with them. “God raised Jesus to life,” Peter declared on the Day of Pentecost, “and we are witnesses of the fact.”[vi]
The resurrection is no mere symbol, a metaphor for the “restoration of his spirit of love and compassion”[vii] as fools proclaim with a wisdom only surpassed by their blind ignorance. If Christ has not actually been raised from the dead, a) the Christian faith is false and futile,[viii] making Christians the people most to be pitied on earth;[ix] b) there is no possible cleansing from sin and deliverance from death;[x] and c) there is no hope[xi] – no hope for anyone.
“No!” says Paul, there is no resurrection without a real body. “Yes!” says Paul, “Christ has indeed been raised from the dead,”[xii] and cites the more than 500 witnesses from Peter to himself who saw him, spoke with him, ate with him, and fellowshipped with him in his resurrected body. So the resurrection declares unmistakably that a) faith in Christ is not futile but is the way to a glorious eternal life in which believers, who have in our bodies imaged the earthly man, will in our resurrection bodies image the heavenly man;[xiii] b) the death of Jesus saves from sin and death,[xiv] cleansing all of sin[xv] and guilt,[xvi] turning aside the wrath of God for ever;[xvii] and c) where Christ has gone before us, he has prepared a place for us,[xviii] and given us through his resurrection a certainty of an unfading inheritance kept in heaven for us.[xix]
But there’s more! Christ not only came alive at the resurrection, he lives! That is, he continues to live. Those who are his live by faith in the living Jesus, and they live through his living in them.[xx] As the living Lord Jesus he provides protection,[xxi] comfort[xxii] and care,[xxiii] and the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.[xxiv] As the resurrected Man who lives, knowing our weaknesses,[xxv] Jesus is alive with intercession with the Father for us.[xxvi] And as the living vanquisher of Satan[xxvii] and death[xxviii] Jesus is certainly able to save us.[xxix]
But there is more! It is not enough to rejoice in the resurrection … because Jesus lives, we are to live, letting nothing move us from the task of fully living with persevering patience[xxx] to God’s glory[xxxi] the life of holiness Christ has called us to and makes possible.[xxxii]
Michal L Drake, www.michaelldrake.name April 2022
[i] 1 Corinthians 15:3,4 [ii] John 20:5-7 [iii] John 20:17 [iv] Luke 24:39 [v] Luke 24:2,43 [vi] cf Acts 2:32 [vii] https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/gospel-story-of-jesus-resurrection-a-source-of-deep-rifts-in-christian-religion/2014/04/18/7c715c0a-c6fa-11e3-8b9a-8e0977a24aeb_story.html [viii] 1 Corinthians 15:14,17 [ix] 1 Corinthians 15:19 [x] 1 Corinthians 15:17 [xi] 1 Corinthians 15:19 [xii] 1 Corinthians 15:20 [xiii] 1 Corinthians 15:48,49 [xiv] John 11:25,26 [xv] 1 John 1:9 [xvi] 1 Peter 3:21 [xvii] Romans 3:25 [xviii] John 14:2 [xix] 1 Peter 1:3,4 [xx] Galatians 2:20 [xxi] Romans 8:38,39 [xxii] 2 Corinthians 1:3,4 [xxiii] 1 Peter 5:7 [xxiv] John 16:7 [xxv] Hebrews 4:15 [xxvi] Romans 8:34; [xxvii] Colossians 2:15; 1 Corinthians 15:50-57 [xxviii] 2 Timothy 1:10; [xxix] Hebrews 7:24,25 [xxx] Hebrews 12:1 [xxxi] 1 Peter 1:7 [xxxii] 1 Corinthians 15:58