Summary: “The men said to them, Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.” (Luke 24:5-6)
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! The resurrection of Christ is central to the Christian faith. It proves that Jesus Christ is exactly who He claimed to be and that He had accomplished His mission on earth. It proves that He is the Messiah and that on the cross He defeated Satan, sin and death. The resurrection is proof that Christ’s sacrifice for sin was far greater than God’s judgement on sin and that no other sacrifice would ever be needed again. It is our receipt that Christ has paid the full payment for sin on our behalf and that Satan can no longer accuse us of sin or legally prevent us from receiving God’s gift of eternal life. The resurrection of Christ guarantees our own resurrection. It is our only hope of eternal salvation, and our only hope of being with God in glory forever. Christ’s victory over death is also our victory over death and we can shout with joy that Christ is risen, alleluia He is risen indeed.
Step One: The resurrection of Christ
a) Confirms that He is the Messiah
The resurrection of Christ confirms that He is the Messiah, the Son of the living God. He “was declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of Holiness, by the resurrection from the dead”. (Rom. 1:4) If Christ is not risen from the dead, then He has no power to pardon or save the sinner.
b) Confirms God’s forgiveness of sin
The resurrection of Christ confirms that God has accepted His sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin. It confirms that our past, present and future sins have been fully paid for and that “He is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He ever lives to make intercession for them”. (Hebrews 7:25)
c) Confirms God’s gift of a new life
The resurrection of Christ confirms God’s gift of a new life made available to every repentant sinner. “He was delivered up because of our offences and was raised because of our justification”. (Romans 4:25) The resurrection of Christ is our only hope of a new life as Christians since being justified means to be just as if I had never sinned.
The Gospels testify to the importance of the resurrection by not ending in sorrow and despair with His death and burial but in joy and hope of a new resurrected life. Before the resurrection, Christ appeared before two human courts, the religious court of the Jewish Council and the secular court of the Roman Governor. Both these courts rejected His claim to be the Son of God and condemned Him to death. Furthermore, both these courts united to prevent any breaking open of His grave. The tomb was made secure with a seal of the Roman emperor and a Roman guard. The seal of the Roman emperor had all the power and authority of Rome behind it and a Roman guard consisted of a sixteen-man security unit of well-trained armed soldiers. In spite of these precautions on the third day the seal was broken, the stone rolled away, the soldiers were paralysed and Christ rose from the tomb. By this act God reversed the decisions of the Jewish council and the Roman Governor and publicly declared that the claim of Christ to be the Son of God was true.
“The Law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17) The resurrection of Christ confirms the New Covenant of grace. Under this New Covenant of grace our salvation does not depend on what we do but on what Christ has done.
Step Two: The proof of the resurrection
a) The empty tomb
One proof of the resurrection of Christ is an empty tomb. For the Gospel writers the empty tomb confirms the reality that "he had risen, just as he said". The burial wrappings were undisturbed and still where they had placed His body and it was obvious that human hands could not have touched the body of Christ.
b) The witness of angels
Another proof of the resurrection was the witness of angels. An angel announced the news that Christ had risen from the dead and was going ahead of them into Galilee where they would see him.
c) The witness of men
Christ appeared to many people to serve as eye-witnesses to His resurrection. He appeared to the women who went to the tomb early in the morning. He appeared to the travellers on the road to Emmaus. He appeared to Peter, James and John and to the rest of the Twelve. He appeared to a group of 500 believers, and finally He appeared to the Apostle Paul.
The message of Scripture has always been a message of hope in the resurrection and that death is not the end of life. The people who question the resurrection really are questioning the power of God. They cannot believe that God can raise someone from the dead. But if God can create all things and sustain them, why is it so hard to believe that God can raise someone from the dead. The evidence of the resurrection is so crucial to Christianity that an angel made sure that the evidence was not tampered with. When the angel rolled the stone away it was not so that Jesus could get out of the tomb because a body that could pass through burial wrappings, a body that could enter the locked room where the disciples were meeting, did not need a stone moved in order to get out of the tomb. The angel rolled the stone away not to let the Lord out but to let the women in. God wanted eyewitnesses to the empty tomb because the resurrection of Christ guarantees the resurrection of every saint. This is the reality of what was observed in the practice of presenting the first fruits of the harvest to the Lord. The presentation of the first fruits to the Lord is an assurance that the rest of the harvest will be safely gathered in. Christ was the first person ever to resurrect from the dead and after Him many saints who had fallen asleep also resurrected and Christ presented them to God as the first fruits of those who had risen from the dead. His presentation of the first fruits of the harvest of saints to God gives us the assurance that the rest of the harvest of saints will be safely gathered in at His coming.