Summary: The power of the resurrection took histories saddest event-the crucifixion, and changed it into the center of our Christian focus of joy. The cross is now history's greatest symbol of love, forgiveness, and hope.
John Scott Harrison was the only man in the history of our nation who was the son of one
president and the father of another. A man of such distinction you would think would be
treated with great respect in his death, but the fact was, nobody was safe in 1878 when he
died. Body snatching was at a peak. The demand for bodies in medical schools was so great
that men became experts in grave robbing. John and Ben were his two sons, and they were
determined that their father's body would be secure.
They had his grave sealed with brick and cement, and then had large stones placed on top
of it. They hired a watchman to check the grave every hour. In spite of all these precautions
the body of John Harrison ended up in the Ohio medical college. The shock of this lead the
Ohio General Assembly, in 1881, to pass a law permitting medical schools to use unclaimed
bodies. This put an end to grave robbing.
I share this bit of history in order to point out that men have always had the power to
break into the tomb. The ancient Egyptians took elaborate precautions to protect the wealth
they buried with their Pharaohs in the pyramids. But to the great disappointment of
archeologists, thieves found a way in and removed the treasures centuries before they found
the way in. All through history man has developed the skill to get him into graves and tombs,
and to take what the dead had to offer. What man lacked was the power to break out of the
tomb. Getting in was not necessarily easy, but getting out was impossible. That is why Easter
is the special day that it is, for Easter is the day we celebrate the discovery of the power to
break out of the grip of the grave.
Many a tomb has been broken into, but the tomb of Jesus is unique in that it was a tomb
broken out of. It was truly an inside job. Helen Frazee-Bower put this truth so beautifully in
One helped Him bare His cross up Calvary,
And there were those who placed Him in the tomb.
But when He burst death's bonds and came forth free
No human hands were in that narrow room.
No one but God could reach beyond the rim
Of death's confines and touch the dark unknown:
Though there were those who longed to do for Him,
When Jesus rose He did it all alone.
No one but God? Then truly He was God!
And is an will be evermore. And those
Who trust His grace sleep not beneath the sod:
They are not dead. Because the Savior rose,
These too shall rise. The tomb is open wide. The stone was rolled away by One inside.
This makes Easter a day in which there was a display of unprecedented power. Others had
been raised from the dead before, but by someone else outside the tomb. Jesus was the first
and only person to rise by His own power. Jesus said in John 10:17-18, "The reason the
Father loves me is that I lay down my life-only to take it up again. No one takes it from me,
but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up
again." No one ever before or since has had that kind of authority. That is why, if you want
to know the power of the resurrection, you must know Jesus, for He is the only source of such
Paul was a man of authority. He had great credentials, and was a man of power in the
Jewish community. He had the power of prestige, which comes with a great heritage, good
education, and belonging to the right circles. Paul had the power to push people around and
persecute them if they did not conform to the values of his heritage. He was a powerful man
for he was not only a leader in Judaism, but he was also a Roman citizen. But this powerful
man tells the Philippians that he did not know what power was until he met Christ. In
comparison, all of his other powers became mere rubbish, and the loss of them was nothing
compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ. It is in this context that Paul makes
the statement in verse 10, "I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection." We
want to focus on the three characteristics of this power that are evident in this passage.
I. A PASSIONATE POWER.
It is an emotionally compelling power. Passionate means fervent, enthusiastic, and zealous.
It is an intense power that motivates and dominates. Paul is not expressing a craving for