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Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Resurrection

There are some today who question the Resurrection of Christ. Oh, they're okay with a "spiritual resurrection" of sorts. You know, spirituality is quite popular today. I mean, it's a popular theme that when someone dies they're "up there in heaven, looking down on us." Nice. And that was Jesus, too ... right? No, not right. The bodily resurrection of Christ is not negotiable, nor is it minor.

The Resurrection assures us that there is a God. Its violation of the "Laws of Nature" simply prove that God is the Master over Nature, something we desperately need to know when considering a world where Nature is sometimes not too friendly.

The Resurrection demonstrates a victory. The Cross was a victory over sin, but the wages of sin is death, so we needed another victory. The Resurrection demonstrates Jesus's victory over death. It is in the Resurrection that we can exult, "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" (1 Cor 15:55).

It was in the Resurrection that Jesus was ultimately vindicated. It is entirely possible for one to be wrongly convicted and put to death for crimes he didn't commit. That's sad. Did that happen to Jesus? We wouldn't actually know if it weren't for the Resurrection. By rising again, bodily, He demonstrated that His death was necessary and complete, but not the end of the story. He wasn't simply killed by injustice; He died on our behalf and rose again to new life.

It is this new life that is really in focus at the Resurrection. "We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life" (Rom 6:4). That "newness of life" is what the Christian life is all about. All things have become new. Indeed, "eternal life" was the whole idea. A Savior who promises new life and then doesn't actually continue to live is no savior at all. Christ did.

The bodily resurrection of Christ is non-negotiable. Paul said, "If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain" (1 Cor 15:14). He goes on to say, "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied" (1 Cor 15:17-19). Instead, Paul assured his readers that the risen Lord had been seen by the original disciples as well as more than 500 more, "most of whom are still alive". In other words, "Go and ask them!"

There are other important matters that the Resurrection answers. If "They shall look upon Him whom they have pierced" (Zech 12:10), but He is dead and buried, how will that happen? He promised to "destroy this temple" and raise it up again in three days. His integrity was in question if He didn't rise again. Appearing first to the women was a message to all of the importance of women in Christianity in the midst of a culture that demeaned them. His physical resurrection was the sign needed to convince Thomas, the doubter, and continues to convince others today. His Resurrection made Him the "first fruits", the forerunner of what we can expect for ourselves. It is the promise of our own bodily resurrection. "What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power" (1 Cor 15:42-43).

The Resurrection is an absurdity to the unbeliever. Without it, we are without hope. But since it is a reality, we have every reason to rejoice. Some may quibble over it today, but as for me, I will exult in my Risen Savior. The Lord is risen! The Lord is risen indeed!

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