Summary: The significance of His resurrection is impossible to exaggerate. It is the fundamental proof of His Messiahship and of the truth of Christianity. A classic sermon by A. B. Simpson.
"To whom also he showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God" (Acts 1:3).
Our Lord’s earthly life may be divided into three sections: before His passion, during His passion, and the forty-day interval between His resurrection and ascension.
Like the afterglow in an Oriental sky still shining long after the sun has disappeared, or like the Indian summer with its soft light and lingering sunshine, these days seem to have about them a mystic glory half way between the earthly and the heavenly. His feet still touched the earth, but His head was in the heavens.
The story of those days is but partly told, but we know enough to afford us seven distinct messages from the departing Master.
The Reality and Significance of the Resurrection
Strange it is that this should need to be demonstrated to Christian disciples, but it is the church of Christ that today is beginning to discredit the physical reality of the Lord’s resurrection. Therefore, God had made it a demonstrable fact supported by "many infallible proofs." The Roman guards who were stationed around the tomb and whose silly lie about the stealing of His body was the very best proof that that body had gone; the angel messengers who repeatedly announced that He was risen indeed; His repeated appearings to His disciples and the testimony of Thomas in spite of his own skepticism -- these form but a little part of the chain of evidence that so acute a mind as Paul’s considered unanswerable and that the profoundest judicial minds today have declared to be absolutely conclusive.
The nature of Christ’s resurrection is as clear as the fact is certain. The picture given by the evangelists leaves no doubt of the absolute identity of the Christ of Easter with the Crucified of Calvary and the Man of Galilee. The very marks of the thorns and the spear were visible and tangible. So real was His humanity that they could handle Him and know by the evidence of their senses that He had actual flesh and bones and that He could eat the broiled fish they set before Him and distinguish the taste of the honeycomb as well. But so transcendently more mighty was His resurrection state than even His former physical life that His body could pass through the closed door and the stone that sealed the sepulchre without hindrance, and could rise and ascend to heaven in defiance of the law of gravitation without the faintest effort.
The significance of His resurrection is impossible to exaggerate. It is the fundamental proof of His Messiahship and of the truth of Christianity. It is the evidence of our justification. It is the source of our sanctification. It is the guarantee of our future resurrection. It is the pledge of all power that we can ever need in this present life, and is the pattern according to which faith may claim the "exceeding greatness of his power ... according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead."
The Abiding Presence of Our Risen Lord
This is assured by His own announcement, every word of which is weighted with such force and suggestiveness, "Lo, I am with you alway," or literally, "all the days, even unto the end of the world (age)." The importance of the announcement is attested by the first word, "Lo," which calls attention to its extraordinary significance. The identity of His presence with His life on earth is emphasized by the present tense of the verb, "I am with you." It was not a promise of some future visitation, but a presence that never should be withdrawn. And the beautiful translation, "all the days," makes that presence as perpetual and as new as the dawn of each succeeding day. He is present throughout all vicissitudes of life’s changes and trials. The promise is not "all the years," but "all the days" -- every day and every sort of day: the cloudy days as well as the sunny ones; the days of trouble as well as the days of blessing; the lonely days, the days of weakness and even failure, "all the days, even unto the end of the age."
And as if this announcement were not sufficient, He illustrated it by several manifestations which seem to be prophetic of the way He might still be expected to show Himself to His earthly followers. How unspeakably precious is the picture of His walk to Emmaus with the two disciples! How simple, how natural, how almost playful was the way in which the Master dropped in upon them! How touching is the delicacy with which He acted as though He would have gone farther, and waited to be pressed to tarry in their home! How gladly He accepted the pressing invitation! How gloriously He manifested Himself in the breaking of the bread, and then how tactfully He vanished when the vision would have disturbed them from their simple life of faith if it had been further prolonged. So still He meets us along life’s pathway. So still He sometimes unveils His glorious face. So still He quickly lets fall the curtain and leaves us to walk by faith and not by sight. How full of pathos is His message immediately after His resurrection: "Go, tell (My) disciples and Peter." So still He singles out the timid, the discouraged and the fallen. How full of comfort is that early morning visitation on the shore of the Galilean sea when the disciples had toiled all night and caught nothing, and the gray dawn found the Master there to supply their physical necessity and help them in their temporal distress, and then to lead them on to the higher lessons of suffering and service. It is in the light of these object lessons that we are ever to interpret that shining and everlasting promise, "Lo, I am with you all the days."