For April 9, 2023
It was early Sunday morning, the end of Passover Week, and Jesus died and was buried in the tomb owned by Joseph of Arimathea. Like any other Sunday morning in Jerusalem, it was peaceful and quiet with the Roman soldiers guarding the tomb to prevent grave robbers, especially the Twelve Disciples from stealing Jesus’ body. They made the tomb as secure as they could to prevent Jesus’ body from being disturbed and the news spreading that He rose from the dead.
Hardened, highly trained, competent soldiers were stationed at the tomb to guard it. In addition, a Roman seal was placed on the stone securing the tomb’s entrance to further dissuade anyone from entering it, since breaking the seal would be in strict violation of Roman law and punishable by death.
All was peaceful and quiet as they all prepared for an ordinary day. The pitch-black sky was changing into shades of orange-red, beige-yellow, and blue with the ever-approaching dawn when Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Joseph, and Zebedee’s sons came to the tomb to embalm their Lord and Savior.
The tomb was sealed and the soldiers were prepared to defend it with their lives. …then it happened,
Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it. His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint. Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember what I have told you.” Matthew 28:2-7 (NLT)
Some have wrongly speculated that the Disciples overpowered the battle-hardened, Roman soldiers and stole Jesus’ body. This is absurd. Others have wildly conjectured that the women went to the wrong tomb and that mass hysteria ensued about Jesus’ resurrection followed.
However, these flawed theories cannot adequately explain why the New Testament account of the resurrection has never been discredited, nor do they explain how the testimonies of those who claimed to have seen Jesus have not been refuted, as this author notes,
The empty tomb is that silent testimony to the resurrection of Christ, which has never been refuted. The Romans and Jews could not produce Christ’s body or explain where it went, but nonetheless, they refused to believe. Not because of the insufficiency of evidence but in spite of its sufficiency do men still reject the resurrection.1
In addition, over the past two-thousand years there have been untold numbers of people around the world—like you and me—who have met the Risen Christ and have accepted Him personally. Those of us who know Him have had a complete spiritual overhaul that cannot be explained either.
Thus, Jesus Christ is the “First Fruits” of a new way of living both now and forever,
Christ’s resurrection was not simply a coming back from the dead, as had been experienced by others before, such as Lazarus (John 11:1–44), for then Jesus would have been subject to weakness and aging and eventually would have died again just as all other human beings die. Rather, when he rose from the dead Jesus was the “first fruits” 2 (1 Cor. 15:20, 23) of a new kind of human life, a life in which his body was made perfect, no longer subject to weakness, aging, or death, but able to live eternally.2
Jesus says in John 20:29 (NKJV), “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” We are blessed by the resurrection of Jesus Christ because,
- He proved emphatically that He is Savior, Lord, and God.
- We know that He is the only Mediator between God and humanity.
- We know that His sacrifice for our sin—past and present—has been accepted by God.
- We are guaranteed a true, lasting intimacy with our loving Heavenly Father.
- We know that Jesus Christ lives amongst and within His people by the power of the Holy Spirit who preserves and keeps us until the glorious day when Jesus returns for us.
- Thus, we know that there is life beyond the grave and that we can live with Jesus Christ forever in Heaven.
- We have the ultimate victory over sin, death and the Enemy (Satan) because of our sincere, penitent faith in Christ alone, (not our works).
An old familiar hymn expresses how the resurrection of Jesus Christ is yet a blessing to His Believers today, and how it can be a blessing to others as well,
Alfred H. Ackley (1887-1960)3
I serve a risen Savior; He’s in the world today; I know that He is living, whatever men may say; I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer, And just the time I need Him He’s always near.
In all the world around me I see His loving care; And though my heart grows weary I never will despair; I know that He is leading, thro’ all the stormy blast; The day of His appearing will come at last.
Rejoice, rejoice O Christian, lift up your voice and sing; Eternal hallelujahs to Jesus Christ the king! The hope of all who seek Him, the help of all who find, None other is so loving, so good and kind.
He lives! He lives! Christ Jesus lives today! He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way. He lives! He lives! Salvation to impart! You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart.
Jesus says in John 16:33 (NLT): “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
Our Christian faith can transform a sin-cursed humanity as we enter into the presence of the Living God. Then, changed human lives can think, speak, and act in ways that improve the welfare of others without being motivated by race, gender, culture, social status, or political affiliation. Such is our glorious, eternal destiny,
We don’t have to be victims of our glands. We are not automations or victims. We are free to make choices, whether noble or ignoble. To live for money, power, or pleasure is to die one day and leave it all behind. Indeed, to live for anything except Christ will mean reaching the end haunted by guilt and despair.4
Contrary to popular belief, people can change the world for the better—one person at a time. Jesus paid the price for our sin so that we can share in the perfect joy that was set before Him. It is His most exhilarating joy that captivates our hearts and minds today as we receive His unfathomably precious gifts of forgiveness and freedom from sin, because Jesus Christ possesses all power, in Heaven and in earth—to forgive our sins. (Matthew 28:18)
The Greek word used for forgive is aphiemi (Strong-863), which means to let go, send away, to cancel, or to pardon.5 Thus in Christ, our sin nature is canceled, let go, sent away, pardoned, and forgotten forever. In fact, our sins no longer define us. Instead, God defines us by His great salvation,
Through his life, death, resurrection, and exaltation, come deliverance from the guilt and power of sin and the gift of new life through the indwelling Holy Spirit. So the believer is saved by Christ’s work on the cross (Acts 4:12); he is being saved now by the work of the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier (Philippians 2:12) and he looks forward to completed salvation in the life of the age to come (1 Thessalonians 5:9, 1 Peter 1:5).6
Here, God looks beyond our past to extend us, a people in need of restoration, His mercy.
Now, because He lives, we can become new creatures with a glorious destiny that will never be taken from us. Won’t you give Jesus your heart today and experience His power to transform your life forever?
Jesus Christ is risen. …He is risen indeed!
What a wonderful Savior!
- Josh McDowell, “The Resurrection—Hoax Or History,” Evidence that Demands a Verdict: Historical Evidences for the Christian Faith, rev. ed., vol. 1, (San Bernardino: Here’s Life Publishers, Inc., 1979) 226.
- Wayne A Grudem, “The Nature of Christ’s Resurrection,” Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, Michigan: Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House, 2004) 609.
- Alfred H. Ackley, “He Lives,” The New Church Hymnal, Ralph Carmichael, ed., (Newberry Park: Lexicon Music, 1976), 285-286.
- Ted W. Engstrom and Norman B Rohrer, Making the Right Choices, Maintaining Your Integrity in a World of Compromise, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1993) 154.
- See: James Strong, “ἀφίημι,” Dictionary of Greek Words, Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, updated ed., 3rd printing, (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2009) 1612, and Walter Bauer, “ἀφίημι,” A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature F. Wilbur Gingrich and Frederick W. Danker, ed., 2nd rev. ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979) 125.
- J.D. Douglas, Walter A. Elwell, and Peter Toon, “Salvation,” The Concise Dictionary of the Christian Tradition, Doctrine, Liturgy, History, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1989) 335.