“If Christ has not been raised our preaching is useless, and so is your faith. I Corinthians 15:14
“I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:10
In just a few weeks after the first Easter, Jesus cemented the fact of His resurrection in the minds and hearts of His disciples. They saw Him, touched Him, spoke with Him, ate with Him, and were taught by Him. Those who first doubted, like Thomas and James the Lord’s brother, were overwhelmed with the truth when confronted with the scars of their crucified, but living Lord. Even ardent enemies, like Saul/Paul, were transformed when encountering the risen Savior face to face, as Paul, or upon hearing the many eye-witness reports. An undeniable resurrection from the dead confirmed the truth of Jesus’ message and His self-declared identity to His apostles, all of His disciples, and even some of His detractors. Nothing less than what truly happened on that first Easter explains the veritable explosion of Christianity throughout the world from that time forward up to the present day.
Oh, there are those who deny it, as they deny the witness of the Scriptures and the coherent, consistent gospel message that runs from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22. But these self-proclaimed “expert Biblical scholars today such as those who constructed the ill-named Jesus Seminar, have fabricated a “Jesus figure bearing absolutely no resemblance to the Christ of the Scriptures. Then to support this figure of their preconceived imaginations they have discombobulated the plain Biblical text with ludicrous theories. To their great misfortune they are unable to enter into the “burning-heart-experience of those two disciples on the first century Emmaus road (Luke 24) as millions of others have done in the intervening millenniums. It is to such muddled “scholars that the Main Stream Media today often turn for comment on religious or Biblical themes or to give their view of the resurrection. These pretenders have carved out a niche earning wealth and recognition on their “studies of the very sources they essentially claim to be nothing more than an ancient collection of fabrications, embellishments, and myths; a scam, they claim, that has blinded the eyes of the masses that make up the believing church of Christ. These dreamers as Jude refers to them are investing their life and energies in building a home built on sand. Both Jude and Peter in their New Testament epistles foretell their certain future.
But what of those today who claim to believe the fact of the resurrection? Those who sing with the hymn writer, “Because He lives I can face tomorrow. Because He lives all fear is gone. What difference does the resurrection make? Or better, what difference should it make? Go back and see the impact it made on the first century Christian. This truth was for them the lynch-pin of the gospel. It confirmed for them the veracity of every word they ever heard from the lips of Jesus. It brought to life the real meaning of Old Testament Scripture. It became the foundation for writing the New. Look at Peter’s sermon at Pentecost in Acts 2; its power is in the fact of the resurrection! “God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of this fact! (2:32)
It gave backbone to every true believer. Courage, not evident in their lives before the resurrection, now stood out in spades. As another hymn writer wrote, “Jesus lives, and so shall I. Death! thy sting is gone forever! You could see this truth pulsating in their veins. They loved the Word. They studied the Word. They preached the Word. They persuaded with the Word. And they lived the Word; all in the power of the resurrection! This is what Philippians 3:10 is about; just as its application will invigorate the lives of 21st century Christians. If you are “ho-hum about Jesus’ resurrection, and what it means for your own, you need to reexamine your faith and get a life! When that happens so will the resurrection power and the courage to face today, and every tomorrow.
“Jesus lives and by His grace, victory o’er my passions giving, I will cleanse my heart and ways, ever to His glory living. Me, He raises from the dust; Jesus is my hope and trust.
(3rd verse of Christian Gellert’s hymn, “Jesus Lives, and So Shall I, 1757 )
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