Summary: Jesus’ resurrection means that we can live with Him now and forever. Third of four in the series "Dying was His Reason for Living."
Dying Was His Reason for Living
The Twist: What Does the Resurrection Mean?
Landmark Christian Church, Chippewa Falls, WI
In April of the year 2000, there was a car crash in Japan. Sadly, a man died in the accident. When the police came to examine the body, witnesses at the scene said they recognized the car and though the injuries disfigured the body, they also recognized the dead man. He was a 60-year-old local shipbuilder. This man’s family was contacted and a brother-in-law was able to come to the scene. "Yes," he said, "That’s him. That’s my brother-in-law." He took the tragic news back to the family. Calls were made. The family quickly gathered that very afternoon at the home of the widow.
There they were immersed in mourning: weeping, embracing, sharing memories, making funeral plans.
Then the door opened and in walked the 60-year-old local shipbuilder, home from a hard day’s work and wondering why all the relatives had come over to his house.
No, it was not a resurrection. It was a misidentification. The man at the car crash was not the man they thought he was, so the family called the police and told them to start their identification process over, because the "dead man" had just walked into their living room.
It would have been interesting to have been in that living room to see the change that came over the family when they realized their loved one was not dead after all: from tears to smiles, from devastation to elation, from mourning to dancing. They must have felt like death had been defeated in their home. But, of course, death had not been defeated; it had just been misplaced. Their joy meant some other family’s sorrow, and the local shipbuilder will someday himself succumb to the power of death.
In reference to The Passion of the Christ, I heard someone say in surprise that the movie was not uplifting, but depressing. Yeah. A little bit like sitting with the family in that living room while they thought the man was dead would have been more depressing than uplifting. The narrow scope of The Passion is just Jesus’ brutal, lonely march to death. And if you think it was hard for you to take, imagine you were Mary or one of the disciples.
The disciples not only loved this man, they had been convinced that He was the Messiah, the One the prophets had said would come to rescue Israel from the hand of her oppressors and usher in the Kingdom of God. He was to be the righteous king, who would not rule with the iron fist of Rome or the self-serving hypocrisy of many of the religious leaders. He would shepherd Israel with all the love, goodness and power of God. The miraculous healings He had done over and over pointed to the total healing they were certain he would bring to the entire nation. The amazing truths He had taught pointed to the wisdom with which he would rule as the next David, the just and powerful king. And they, his hand picked followers, would be generals in His holy army and advisors in His ruling council.
Then, He’s dead. Half a day after being arrested, without even putting up a fight or even speaking in His own defense, He’s hanging on a cross, then buried in a tomb. Jesus had failed as Messiah, and they had failed as His followers, having run when He needed them most.
Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, as Peter had declared, was dead. Hope went to the grave with Him. Their future lost, their courage evaporated, the disciples cower in a locked room by themselves - way beyond mourning - utter desolation.
What they had forgotten were Jesus’ own words the very night of His arrest.
Read John 16:20-22.
The movie gives only the briefest glimpse of Jesus’ resurrection, but in the Bible it is the crucial event. It is the turning point of the lives of those first followers and the event that catapulted faith in Jesus beyond this small circle to the entire world.
The shipbuilder’s family must have been overjoyed when he walked in the door. But when the disciples realized that Jesus was alive, they were infused with a joy that, as Jesus said, no one would ever take away. That man had a greater duration of life than his family thought, but the meaning of life and its ultimate outcome were the same as the day before. When Jesus walked out of that tomb, the structures of the world itself fundamentally changed. The meaning of life and its ultimate outcome were recalibrated in a way that leaves not only the original disciples, but us today as well, with a joy that no person or event can ever take away.