Summary: “Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself” John 20:6-7.
! Theme: He is risen
Text: Acts 10:14-43; 1 Cor. 15:1-11; Jn. 20:1-18
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! The resurrection of Jesus Christ is central to the Christian faith as it proved that He was exactly who He claimed to be and had accomplished what He came to accomplish. When the price for a valuable item is paid a receipt is given as proof of payment. The resurrection is the receipt that the full payment for sin has been made. Jesus’ resurrection guarantees our resurrection and is our only hope of eternal salvation and being with God in glory forever. Christ’s victory over death is also our victory and because He lives we will also live. Christ is risen, alleluia He is risen indeed.
The resurrection is proof that Jesus Christ 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”. The resurrection of Christ confirms that God has accepted His sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin. He fully paid the price for sin and “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) If Christ is not risen from the dead, then He has no power to pardon or save the sinner.
God’s forgiveness and salvation is to every repentant sinner who puts his faith in Christ as “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.
The Gospels testify to the importance of the resurrection by not ending in despair and heartbreak with His death and burial but in joy and hope of a new resurrected life. Before the resurrection, Christ had 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 had united to prevent any breaking open of His grave. The tomb was made secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting a Roman guard at the site. 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 and armed soldiers. In spite of these precautions on the third day the seal was broken, the soldiers were completely 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 sinless Son of God was true. The resurrection of Christ confirms that God has accepted the price He paid for our sin. We receive God’s forgiveness when we believe in His death and resurrection and accept Him as Saviour and Lord.
The proof of the resurrection of Christ is really overwhelming. For the Gospel writers the empty tomb confirms the reality that "he had risen, just as he said". The burial wrappings were undisturbed and the head wrapping were still separated and it was obvious that human hands could not have touched the body of Christ. The witness of angels also confirms the proof of the resurrection. 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. Another proof of the resurrection was the appearances of Christ to many eye-witnesses: the women, the Emmaus travellers, Peter, James and John, the rest of the Twelve, then a group of 500 believers, and finally the Apostle Paul.
The message of Scripture has always been a message of resurrection hope, a message that death is not the end as is illustrated in a grain of wheat. A grain cannot bear fruit unless it is first planted in the ground, seemingly dies, germinates and grows out of the ground to bear fruit. Jesus used this example to teach that His ministry of reconciliation between God and man could only come as a result of His own atoning death and resurrection. 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 rock 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. The resurrection of every saint is assured no matter what happens to the body. The angel by rolling back the stone and breaking the seal, the seal of the Roman Emperor, and paralysing the soldiers, was making a clear statement, a statement that there is no power higher and greater than God’s power. There is only one response to this revelation from the angel and that is to accept Jesus Christ as our risen Lord and Saviour and to worship Him.