Christianity has always claimed that on the first Easter Sunday some 2,000 years ago, a man named Jesus, who died on a Roman cross and was buried in a tomb, physically rose from the dead. Among world religions, the resurrection of Jesus Christ stands unique. Easter is not about colored eggs or bunnies or Spring Break. It is about an empty tomb and a risen Christ.
By Dr. John H. Munro
After the crucifixion, the followers of Christ were devastated and defeated. But only days later they stood in downtown Jerusalem fearlessly preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They continued to preach Christ even though they were imprisoned and beaten. They turned the world upside down. Why this transformation? What had happened? They had seen the risen Christ. Receive Jesus, the risen Christ, as your Savior and Lord. The only power in the universe that can deal with your sins, your guilt, your failures, is the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. When you trust in the living Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and Lord, the power of the risen Christ will wipe out all your sins.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the greatest and most important event in the history of the world and is based on the strongest of historical evidence. No one has ever produced the body of Jesus. If someone had, Christianity would have been stamped out in a moment. But Christ is risen!
Does it really matter whether Jesus actually rose from the dead? Does it matter whether the resurrection is historical fact or mere religious myth? How can something that happened so long ago have any significance or impact on us living in the 21st century?
The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ are not only central to all of human history — combined they are the pivotal event in each of our personal lives. In the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, the power of God is displayed to the whole universe and directly affects all of our lives — past, present and future.
For Our Past
The resurrection of Jesus from the dead confirms that He fulfilled His mission in coming to the earth. Jesus’ mission was to die for the sins of the world (Matthew 1:21, John 1:29). On the cross of Calvary, Jesus Christ perfectly completed His sacrifice of atonement. “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). But before our Savior could bring us to God, not only had He to die for our sins, He had to rise from the dead. The resurrection then explains and validates the cross. Without the resurrection there would be no salvation for any of us. The living Christ is now able and willing to save all who come to Him (Romans 4:25, Hebrews 7:25).
What then is the relevance of the resurrection for us? Because Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, forgiveness of our sins is available. In order to be saved and have our sins forgiven, we must believe that “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).
Have you experienced the power of the living Christ, this resurrection power, in forgiving all of your sins? To have all of the sins of your past forgiven, acknowledge that you have sinned and that you are unable by yourself to get rid of your sin. The Bible refers to this as repentance, a turning from our sin. Believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, that He was buried, and that as the Son of God He was raised from the dead.
For Our Present
Many people reject the Christian faith because they believe the Christian life is too difficult to live. They realize they have habits, problems, hang-ups, fears and lifestyles over which they seem to have no control. Life is going in a direction they don’t like. While the Christian life has many attractive features, it appears to be impossible to live. The Christian life is indeed impossible; that is, impossible to live in our own power. What we all need is a power greater than ourselves; we need a new power source. The resurrection of Jesus Christ affects our present lives at this exact point. When you receive Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and Lord, the living Christ lives within you. The Apostle Paul writes: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20).
This is why conversion is sometimes described as being born again. We receive new life and new power. Christ now lives in us! So the Christian life is not us trying in our own strength to follow some rules and regulations, but rather it is our being transformed by the power of the living Christ who lives in us.
In describing the power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead, Paul writes of the “surpassing greatness of His power” (Ephesians 1:19). Paul then explains that this same power, the power that raised Jesus from the dead, is available to all those who are in Christ Jesus.
All of us are aware of the power of sin in our lives, but this resurrection power breaks the power of sin. Sitting in a jumbo jet rumbling down the runway, I have wondered how that huge machine could ever leave the ground. The law of gravity remains in force, and yet, the huge jet still flies. What has happened? Has the law of gravity been suspended? No, another law is in force, a power that is greater than the law of gravity: the law of aerodynamics.
The power of the resurrection is greater than the power of sin and of death in our lives (Romans 8:2). It is the greatest power in the universe.
Are you drawing on this resurrection power? Paul wrote, “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection” (Philippians 3:10). Paul had a living, dynamic relationship with Jesus Christ, but he wanted to know Christ more and more so that Christ’s resurrection power would increasingly be experienced in His life. J.B. Phillips paraphrases Ephesians 1:18-19 like this: “How tremendous is the power available to us who believe in God.”
Praise God that this tremendous resurrection power is available to us! Instead of trying to live the Christian life using our own power, we can draw on this resurrection power to live a life pleasing to the Lord, each day believing that our great God “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Ephesians 3:20, NKJV, emphasis added).
For Our Future
Death knocks at every door. Eventually its long shadow will fall on each of us. “In the long run,” international economist John Maynard Keynes noted, “we are all dead.” The Christian’s answer to death is not found in ignoring it or fearing it, but rather in facing it. Christians can face death because we have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, who says, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die” (John 11:25-26).
Are you able to face the reality of your own death? Easter proclaims that Christ has conquered death. He has passed through it. Therefore, the only way to be victorious over death is to trust in the living Christ who is the only person who has defeated death. The resurrection of Jesus Christ guarantees our resurrection. Because Christ has been raised from the dead “so also in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).
As a pastor I have ministered to many terminally ill people. Some have not known Christ as their personal Savior, whereas others have had their trust in the living Christ. What a difference there has been in their attitudes and perspectives when facing death. What a difference in how they have lived and how they have died!
In the 17th century, John Brown, one of the Scottish Covenanters, refused to compromise the principles of the Word of God. Graham of Claverhouse ordered his men to shoot John Brown in front of his pregnant wife and their children. The soldiers wouldn’t obey their commander, and so Claverhouse himself shot John Brown. He then turned to Mrs. Brown and asked, “What do you think of your husband now?”
With John’s body lying at her feet, she replied, “I’ve always thought a great deal of him, but I never thought as much of him as I now do.” How the Browns lived and how John Brown died was transformed because of Christ’s resurrection power in their lives. If they had known the hymn “Majestic Sweetness Sits Enthroned,” they would have sung enthusiastically:
To Him I owe my life and breath
And all the joys I have;
He makes me triumph over death
And saves me from the grave,
And saves me from the grave.
Have you experienced the power of the resurrection? Has it made an impact on your past so that all your sins have been forgiven? Is it making an impact on your present as you consciously draw on this resurrection power? Does it give you strength and a hope for the future realizing that the same power that raised Christ from the dead will one day take you to be with God in heaven?
If you have never trusted Jesus Christ, place your trust in Him. Know and love Christ, and rejoice in this resurrection power. Christ is alive forevermore and has the keys of death and of Hades (Revelation 1:18). He gives us eternal life and will take us to be with him in heaven when we die. Our Savior lived on this earth, and He knows the only way out of this world into heaven. He has made the way. In fact, He is the way to God and to heaven. Believe in Him and know Him this Resurrection Day.
©Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
by permission from the March 2008 issue of "Decision" magazine