"He is Risen"
“He is risen indeed!”
Every Easter, Christians around the world recite these words in remembrance of the day Jesus walked out of the tomb, alive again. We believe that on a real day in history, at a real place on the map, Jesus really, bodily rose from the dead, and never died again.
Yet it’s possible to become so familiar with this claim that we forget how absolutely life-altering the good news of Jesus’ resurrection is. If this is true, it changes everything, and every person needs to hear and respond.
We believe that it is true. Faithful women, fearful disciples, Roman soldiers and incredulous religious leaders all found an empty tomb, but none could produce a body. Hundreds of people saw the resurrected Christ. Some even touched him and ate with him. Perhaps most convincingly, within a few weeks of the incident, a small group of cowardly doubters were transformed into bold evangelists whose simple message and unwavering martyrdoms literally changed the world.
The resurrection of Jesus is the best news ever. As Easter approaches, here are a few specific implications of the empty tomb to celebrate, and to share with others.
1 - The Resurrection is Confirmation of Jesus Accomplishing Our Salvation
Jesus came to earth with a mission. That mission was not simply to teach helpful moral lessons or exemplify what a good life looks like. Jesus’ mission was nothing less than to accomplish our restoration to the full, eternal life with God that we were made for. “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).
As his earthly ministry progressed, many of Jesus’ followers began to hope in this possibility. Perhaps this was the one they had waited for, the hero promised throughout Jewish history. Which explains why they were so devastated when Jesus was executed. As one of Jesus’ followers put it in Luke 24:21, “We had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.”
But when Jesus was raised from the dead, his followers discovered that he was not less than they had hoped for, but exceedingly more. Jesus didn’t just come to rescue one ethnic group from a geopolitical oppressor, or to temporarily quench physical hunger in a few bellies. He came to rescue people of every nationality from sin and death forever!
First Timothy 3:16 says that Jesus was “vindicated by the Spirit.” Romans 1:4 expands on this idea, explaining that Jesus “was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead.” By raising Jesus from the dead, God was confirming that Jesus was who he said he was.
One of the last things that Jesus said as he hung on the cross before his death was, “It is finished” (John 19:30), but he might have said, “Mission accomplished! The ransom to bring guilty sinners back to God in righteousness is paid in full.” And the resurrection proves that our hope of restoration and eternal life in Christ is guaranteed.
2 - The Resurrection Shows that God Cares About the Physical World
Since the days of Adam, many religions and philosophies have promoted a distinction between the spiritual and the physical. Metaphysical forms and ideas are the highest, truest reality. The world and the body are the cause of most of our troubles, but by meditation we can transcend to a better spiritual reality.
These ideas have cultivated a damaging perceived division between “important” spiritual things and “lesser” physical pursuits. Religion and science are seen as necessarily exclusive. You have to pick one and disregard the other. Sexuality is not a beautiful gift from God but a debased temptation from the devil. Sure, a career as an attorney is fine, but the best Christians work in “the ministry.”. The ten minutes you spend in prayer each morning are far more important to God than the eight hours you spend each day at the office. Really?
While this sacred-secular divide has permeated the church through the centuries, the resurrection proves that God recognizes no such distinction. Jesus’ resurrection wasn’t just a metaphorical one, nor did he come back as a disembodied spirit. People touched his resurrected body (John 20:27). Others saw him eat food (Luke 24:41-43). On the first Easter Sunday, a real body walked out of the tomb.
Moreover, the Bible promises us that Jesus will return, still fully human, and establish a renewed earth and a physical kingdom (Rev. 21:1-4). If you’ve ever felt slightly disturbed by the idea of an afterlife consisting of floating around on clouds playing harps, or drifting through some ethereal haze as colorful auras, rest assured that Jesus is a physically resurrected King. His resurrection confirms that God is leading us toward an eternal adventure that looks more like Tomorrowland than Casper the Friendly Ghost.
3 - The Resurrection Gives Us Hope that Outlasts Death Itself
In Psalm 23, King David laments that he “walks through the valley of the shadow of death” (Ps. 23:4). In this mortal life, everything we do is overshadowed by our impending demise. Some people are better than others at suppressing that knowledge, but deep down we all feel it. And if death really is our final destination, if it really has the last laugh, that calls into question the meaningfulness of everything else. Is there any hope, significance or beauty that generations of death can’t destroy?
At Easter, we discover that the answer to that question is a resounding yes! Jesus defeated death, so for those who place their faith in him, death is no longer a dead end but a doorway to new, true life. As C.S. Lewis put it at the end of The Last Battle, we will discover that this life “had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”
In the face of enemies like depression, cancer, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, poverty and loneliness, we need more than just moral lessons and nice ideas. We need the promise of life that overpowers and outlasts death. In the resurrection of Jesus, God gives us just that. One day he will raise us in glorified bodies to reign with him forever.
Choose to Celebrate
Let’s pray together that this Easter would be more than just a mild, momentary acknowledgement of a detached point of doctrine. Choose to celebrate the mind-blowing good news that Jesus rose from the dead. Because it’s true, we can rest and rejoice in the reality that our lives and bodies are destined for death-overcoming life with God forever. He is risen indeed!
- Historical Evidence for the Resurrection by Matt Perman of Desiring God
- Jesus Vindicated Sermon on Luke 24 by Tim Keller
- White Horse Inn Podcast Series on the Resurrection