Summary: “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him” Mark 16:6.
Theme: The Lord has truly risen, Alleluia
Text: Isaiah 25:6-9; 1 Cor. 15:1-11; Mk. 16:1-8
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! The world has heard many important messages, learned many great truths and experienced many dramatic and life-changing events. But none of them can come close to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Indeed this is the heart of the Christian faith and nothing in the history of the world can match the significance of Jesus being raised from the dead because when Jesus rose from the dead, He proved that He was exactly who He claimed to be and had accomplished what He came to accomplish. His resurrection confirmed that death is not the end for the believer but a through road to eternity. This has been the hope of God’s people throughout history and it is a hope that depends on the resurrection of Jesus Christ because His resurrection guarantees our resurrection. The resurrection may be denied, it may be despised, it may be mocked, men may make an effort to explain it, to give some rational arguments to explain the phenomena, but it is the only hope of life after death, the only hope of eternal salvation, the only hope of being with God in glory forever. Without the resurrection of Christ there would have been no gospel and the cross would have been totally unnecessary. But the Lord has truly risen, alleluia.
This is the reason why the Gospels do not end with Jesus’ death and burial. Instead of ending with despair and heartbreak they rather end with joy and the hope of a new life. Jesus Christ “was declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of Holiness, by the resurrection from the dead”. 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 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 confirms that every promise of God is true. If all that He said about His death and resurrection were fulfilled, then His other promises had to be true and would also be fulfilled. The resurrection confirms God’s offer of forgiveness and salvation 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 sinner’s justification depends on the resurrection of Christ for had Christ remained on the cross, or in the grave, God’s promise to the sinner of salvation and eternal life would also not be fulfilled. If Christ is not risen from the dead, then He has no power to pardon or save the sinner. But if He is risen, then this is proof of His power to pardon and save. It is only the risen Christ, received and confessed by faith, who brings to the sinner pardon, peace, eternal life and victory over sin. “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. The resurrection also leads us to the realisation of our hopes as Christians. It makes us aware of the supreme goal of our life of faith here on earth. Speaking of the motivating purpose of his life as a Christian Paul declares, “it is to know Him and the power of His resurrection.” Paul does not intend to let anything in this world prevent him from attaining to the resurrection of the dead, the realisation of all his beliefs and labours.
Christianity is a belief in a series of truths, doctrines and principles that rise and fall depending on the resurrection of Christ. Without the resurrection of Jesus Christ there is no resurrection life but because He lives we shall also live. 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. Such 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. If He were to stop short of death on the cross, no fruit could come forth out of His ministry. It is only through His death, burial and resurrection that there would come forth the fruit of a great harvest of sinners, justified and reconciled to God. Many people do not understand or believe in the resurrection because they do not understand the meaning of His death. They cannot understand or believe that He, though sinless and perfect, had to die in our place and for our sin. And, unless we believe this we also cannot believe that Christ had to rise from the grave in glory in order to bring to completion His work as Redeemer. The empty grave cannot be understood or appreciated until the cross is understood. We can only understand or believe what happened that first Easter morning when we understand our need for a Saviour. Easter Sunday must be viewed in the light of Good Friday. Only then can we understand that He was raised in glory.