Christians celebrate Good Friday and Easter every year and every year, it seems like the same message. For some, it is easier to see our sins and the ways in which we have failed. Our sin and rebellion, as well as the good that we know we ought to do but don’t do, seem to be clearer and easier to pick out. But what about the Christian’s hope? Are the promises of the resurrection only for the life to come? As you can probably guess from these questions, the answer is a resounding NO!
The “Life Alive” series was meant to unpack some of the implications of the resurrection for the Christian. It has practical implications not just for an abstract future, but for our daily struggles now.
(1) The resurrection speaks to our doubt
Luke 24 gives as a portrait of the resurrected Jesus who comes for the broken-hearted disciples who feel like they’ve placed their hopes in God but have it all crushed. It also shows the doubt and resurrection sorrow of unbelieving followers of Jesus.
Do you struggle with doubt? Do you wonder if being a Christian means putting aside our logic and reasoning? This encounter with Jesus gives us comfort because it shows us that the early disciples were people like us. They understood their world and the limits of this world, and struggled to make sense of things too. Our comfort is that we have a God who knows our struggles.
Ultimately, resurrection truth dawns when the risen Jesus teaches the Bible to them. Jesus appeared to His disciples but focused on teaching the Scriptures to them. To this group of people, He did not show the scars and wounds but thought it important that they saw how the Old Testament pointed to His death and resurrection.
Do you struggle with doubt? Perhaps the solution isn’t “less Bible” but more of it, because in His Word, we have all that we need for salvation.
(2) The resurrection is grounded in truth
1 Cor 15 shows us that this resurrection is not a myth, but is a truth grounded in personal experience, eyewitness testimony and Scriptural evidence. This means that there is an objective element to it, shown in the words of the Bible beginning from Genesis. There is also a subjective element to it, through people’s experience and ultimately Paul, the author’s own encounter with Jesus.
What do you know about the resurrection? What is your knowledge based on? Do you see the promises made in the Bible and how God has fulfilled it in Jesus?
But it is not just about us. The truths of the resurrection also represent God’s trustworthy character and the effectiveness of faith. Because the resurrection is true, we know for a fact that sinners have been freed from death and will one day receive a promised resurrection body.
This resurrection truth isn’t just a bunch of facts and knowledge. It has a power, and this is the power that transformed Paul. What about your life? How will your life be different if you really believe in the resurrection? How does resurrection truth change the way you spend your time, money and energy? Will it change your relationships?
(3) The resurrection assures us of a glorious future in Christ
1 Cor 15 not only speaks of truth, it gives us a glimpse of the transformation that awaits us. Firstly, we will receive a resurrection body like Christ’s. Jesus, when He was raised, came back with a physical body, not as a disembodied presence. Though He seemed to be able to walk through walls and disappear, He ate with the disciples and also showed them His wounds. We can look forward to a renewed body without the problems of this fallen world. Do you think of your physical body as also belonging to God and needing redemption?
The resurrection victory over sin and death is something we should celebrate. We struggle with sin in this fallen world, and this description by Martin Luther describes so much of our struggle: “simul justus et peccator” — simultaneously justified and a sinner. But just as sin entered the world through one man, Adam, so life too, enters through Jesus. Jesus, being raised from the dead, means that death has died and with it, sin has no hold on those that are in Him! Do you struggle with sin? What hope does the resurrection have for your daily, moment by moment fight?
The resurrection also points forward to the glory of a new heavens and new earth. This place is not our home, and one day, all things will be made new. The “happily ever after” that we all long for is described in the book of Revelation and the best thing is not that we are whisked away from this place to a happy place. God renews and restores all things and Himself comes to dwell with us. What are you looking forward to?
(4) The resurrection changes our prayers
Who is the God that you pray to? Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian church in Eph 1 shows us the priority of prayer. It reveals a dependence upon the Triune God. Often our prayers are haphazard and unstructured. We pray when we need to (e.g. in our struggles) or when its required (e.g. in church). We pray to a vague understanding of God who is “out there”, a great Divine Being. But Paul’s prayers are always specific and shows a wonderfully rich understanding of His God.
What do you pray about? Paul’s prayer also shows us the petition of prayer. The truths of the resurrection expounded on in 1 Cor 15 infuse His prayers. He understands the hope, worth and power of the resurrection and prays that too!
What is the end goal of your prayer? Paul doesn’t just pray for his circumstances. He doesn’t just pray for the Ephesians. Paul’s purpose in prayer is for Christ’s glory and authority over all but especially the church.
(5) There is power in the resurrection
Resurrection power isn’t some supernatural ability to predict the future or walk through walls or not feel any pain. Paul, writing in Phil 3, tells us that resurrection power is the risen Christ manifesting His present and future glory in us. The man (and woman) experiencing resurrection power will know and value the risen Christ above all. This may seem unimpressive in the eyes of the world, but if we pause and consider who we once were, we would be rightly amazed. We who were once dead in our sins and had no interest in God and the things of God now love Him, desire Him, delight in His Word and seek to live lives of obedience in repentance and faith. This is nothing short of a miracle! Paul, once a persecutor of the church, was not suffering on behalf of the Christ he once persecuted.
How do we get this power? Through faith, in union with Christ. Such simple words, but we really take a lifetime to understand the depths and riches of this truth with power.
The resurrection doesn’t just promise something that happens in the future! It changes the way we live now and to some extent, whets our appetite for what awaits us! What good news! Praise God.