The resurrection of Christ is grounded in the Word of God, in history, and in geography. Nothing in redemption history is more established. The Lord even chose witnesses ahead of time so that it would be undeniable. Our very salvation is based on the fact of the resurrection. If it were not so, we would still be in our sins and totally hopeless (I Cor. 15:17-19). You can rejoice in the wonder of it all.
- The predictions of Christ Himself.
The predictions of Christ Himself established the resurrection ahead of time (Mt. 16:21; Mk. 8:31-33; Luke 9:22; John 10:17-18). He said, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up" (John 2:19). He spoke of the temple of His body but they did not understand that He was speaking of His own resurrection. The disciples were reminded of many of these things after He arose.
- The "stone was rolled away (Mt. 28:2; Mk. 16:6; Lu.24:2; John 20:1).
Matthew says, "There was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled away the stone from the door, and sat upon it" (28:2). Not to let Christ out, but to let the disciples in.
- The angelic announcement.
All four Gospels record the visit of the angel announcing "He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay" (Mt. 28:6; Mk. 16:6; Luke 24:6; John 20:1). It is interesting to note that angels were at hand when Christ was born to announce Christ's birth to the shepherds. They were at His resurrection and myriads will accompany Him when He returns for the believers at the rapture and again when He returns to earth to reign. These are all vital events in Christ's life. God made sure these facts were established with supernatural intervention. The resurrection is vital to God's salvation plan. All heaven for sure would rejoice at the resurrection of the Son of God. No wonder the angels were there to proclaim it. Here is supernatural verification—audible revelation if you please. All the Gospel writers established it in writing so it is not hearsay.
- Resurrection appearances.
Then of course, there were the resurrection appearances. These too are recorded in Biblical history which is more reliable than human history. Christ appeared to individuals such as Mary Magdalene (John 20:14-18) and the women who came to anoint Him, but found the stone rolled away and the tomb empty (Mt. 28:9-10;
Luke 24:1-11). It is interesting that Christ should first appear to women. Christian experience in no way degrades women.
Then He appeared to Peter (Lu. 24:34; I Cor. 15:5); to the two on the road to Emmaus on the same day of the resurrection (Luke 24:13-35); to Thomas when He invited him to put his hands into His side (John 20:27-29); to James (I Cor. 15:7); and finally to the Apostle Paul (I Cor. 15:8) who was born as one out of due time. Three times He appeared to the disciples. Actually, He was "seen of them forty days" (Acts 1:3) between the resurrection and His ascension. He appeared to them on the day of the resurrection (John 20:19-20), then eight days afterwards (John 20:26-27), and finally by the Sea of Tiberias (Galilee) (John 21:1-14). He appeared to 500 brethren at once (I Cor. 15:6).
- The "infallible proofs."
The "infallible proofs" (Acts 1:3) no doubt refer to those times when Christ ate fish and an honeycomb before the disciples (Luke 24:42-43). He invited them to see His hands and feet and to handle Him for as He said, "A spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have" (Luke 24:39). The infallible proofs prove that His body was literal. It could be seen and felt (I John 1:1-3).
His appearance to Thomas was surely a clear revelation of His bodily resurrection. Thomas who had doubted said; "Except I shall see in his hands the prints of the nails, and put my finger into his side, I will not believe (John 20:25). Eight days later while Thomas was with the disciples, Jesus said to him, "Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless but believing" (vs. 27). Proof enough. He had to believe. See also those glorious words of verse 29.
- The watch that was set.
The watch that was set told the chief priests all that was done. When they had taken counsel together, they gave to the soldiers a large sum of money to say that His disciples came and stole the body while they slept (Mt. 28:13). What a hoax! Who takes the word of sleeping witnesses?
- The coming of the Holy Spirit.
The coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, 10 days after Christ's ascension, was in fulfillment of His promise which said, "Behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high" (Luke 24:49). Then He led them out as far as Bethany and ascended into Heaven. The Book of Acts speaks of the same truth where He told them to "Wait for the promise of the Father" when they should be "baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence" (Acts 1:4-5). When Peter preached the resurrection of Christ on that day, he attributed the descent of the Holy Spirit to Christ's exaltation to the right hand of the Father (Acts 2:32-36). The coming of the Holy Spirit not only proves the resurrection, but it also verifies Christ's deity (vs. 36). The believer too may prove for himself the reality of the resurrection of Christ by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit Who makes "Christ in you" real (Gal. 2:20; Col. 1:27). The living Jesus within surely gives reality to Christian experience so that it is not merely nominal Christianity, mediocre in expression, but powerful in manner of life.
- The message of the Apostles.
The message of the Apostles after the resurrection and ascension of Christ and the enduement of the power of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost made them dynamic witnesses of the resurrection of Christ. They were fearless men not counting their lives as dear unto themselves. Acts 2:22-24; 3:15; 4:10 and throughout the book indicates that the resurrection of Christ was a most vital part of their message. It was the knowledge of His resurrection that they had witnessed for themselves that added boldness to their preaching. They would not be intimidated, but with courage preached Christ for the salvation of sinners. Three thousand were saved on the Day of Pentecost, then five thousand, and then multitudes. They knew He had risen from the dead without a shadow of doubt. They preached with conviction and assurance.
- The established meaning of it.
The meaning of the resurrection too is established in the Word for us. His resurrection is just as true and real today as it ever was and we need to magnify the wonder of it all.
The resurrection of Christ established the fact that Christ is alive and that we worship a risen Saviour. Acts 1:3 declares that "He shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs." The whole of Gospel truth hinges on this wonderful fact. If He is not living, we would yet be in our sins (I Cor. 15:17-18).
His resurrection provides a living intercessor for us at the right hand of God (Heb. 7:25; 9:24; Rom. 8:34). He is our great high priest that understands all our needs and to whom we can come at any time for help (Heb.4:14-16). It is His life for us in Heaven at the right hand of God that keeps us saved. He is the eternal witness that His blood was shed as the atonement for our sins, that we are justified, and the resurrection of Christ proves it (Rom. 4:25; 5:10). He is our heavenly advocate so that our sins may be forgiven when we come in confession (I John 1:9; 2:1).
The resurrection means that Jesus is still living and will come again as He promised (John 14:1-3). The Apostle Paul based his teaching of the coming of Christ at the rapture on that fact that "If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him" (I Thess. 4:14). In addition, he says, "For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord" (vs. 15).
- A living hope.
The resurrection of Christ is a living hope for the believer. The Holy Spirit declared through the writing of Peter, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time" (I Peter 1:3-5). Apart from the resurrection of Christ there is no hope for the future. His resurrection guarantees our resurrection with a glorified body like unto His. The Word of God declares, "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable" (I Cor. 15:19). Salvation includes the salvation of the life and the salvation of the body. Now we are,"Waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body" (Rom. 8:23). The dead in Christ shall be raised into glory, all sufferings in the body shall cease, and we shall be like Him.
- Judgment sure to come.
It is good, however, to remind those who are not saved, that the resurrection of Christ assures the unbeliever that there is a judgment to come. The Bible clearly states that God "now commandeth all men every where to repent. Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead" (Acts 17:30-31).
- Christ exalted.
The glorious fact of the resurrection is the wonderful truth that Christ is exalted. To think of Who He is, what He did, His humiliation, His suffering of the cross, and the fact that He was willing, all makes His exaltation essential. God could do no less. Peter certainly magnified this when he said, "This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted..." (Acts 2:32-33). The Apostle Paul also said that God,"raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand, far above all principality, and power, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come" (Eph. 1:20-21). Paul also declared that because of His humbling Himself, leaving His heavenly estate, making Himself of no reputation, taking unto Himself the form of a servant and the likeness of men, and His obedience unto death on the cross, God hath "highly exalted him, and given him a name above every name...that every knee should bow...and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil. 2:6-11).
Used with permission of the author from Quarterly Notes, vol. 11, no. 2, "Bible Study," by Al Troester.
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