The resurrection of Jesus is one of the “first of all” facts of the gospel by which we are saved (1 Cor. 15:1-4). In his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul begins by emphasizing the importance of this fact (Romans 1:1-4). The vital connection between the resurrection of Jesus and our salvation is a recurrent theme throughout the letter (4:24-25; 6:4, 5, 9; 7:4; 8:11; 10:9).
It is my goal in this article to not only confirm our faith in the resurrection of Jesus but also to help us experience the power and to know the hope of this grand truth of the gospel in our own personal lives.
The Proof Of The Resurrection
The proof of Jesus’ death. There can be no resurrection without a death. Jesus was violently scourged and then crucified (Mat. 27; Mark 15; Luke 23; John 20). The fact that Jesus died is a matter of man’s historical record (e.g. Tacitus, Josephus) and well as God’s inspired record (cf. John 19:31-37). The body of Jesus was wrapped in cloth and buried in a new rock hewn tomb with a large stone, sealed and secured by guards at the insistence of the Jewish leaders (Mat. 27:57-66). The scourging, crucifixion and burial of Jesus renders the idea that He awakened from a deep coma, unwrapped the cloths around him, pushed away the great stone, overcame the guards and walked away absolutely absurd!
The proof of the not so empty tomb. When Jesus was raised on the first day of the week, Peter and John examined the tomb and saw for themselves that the body of Jesus was not there, but the cloths that were wrapped around Christ’s body were in place as though He had just raised up out of them (John 20:5-7). Such evidence successfully refutes the suggestion of the Jews that the body of Jesus might be stolen.
The proof of indisputable eyewitness testimony. The apostles saw Jesus alive and talked with Him, not once but on numerous occasions following His death (Mat. 28; Mark 16; Luke 24; John 20-21; 1 Cor. 15:5-8). John said they handled him with their hands (1 John 1:1). Jesus broke bread with two at Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35). Some of the apostles saw Him cook and eat breakfast by the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1-14). Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15 that 500 saw Him at one time, dispelling the idea that His appearance was a mere hallucination of a few (v. 6). Jesus offered Himself for inspection to “Doubting Thomas” (John 20:24-29), so that there can be no doubt that Jesus was seen alive after His death.
The proof of the newfound courage of His disciples. Within a short time after Jesus’ crucifixion, His disciples began to proclaim that He had risen (Acts 2). They made that claim publicly in Jerusalem. It was obviously in the interest of the Jewish and Roman authorities to spike this story. They could have done so by producing the dead body of Jesus, but they never did. They threatened, punished and even killed some of the disciples but nothing stopped them from proclaiming Christ’s resurrection. What changed frightened, frustrated and defeated disciples into fearless preachers? Jesus was raised from the dead (cf. 4:1-13)!
The proof of the conversion of Saul. How was that an avid persecutor of those who accepted the resurrection of Jesus suddenly became a preacher of the resurrection in spite of tremendous loss and suffering (Acts 8-9)? Paul explains, “He was seen by me also” (1 Cor. 15:8).
The Power Of The Resurrection
The power of salvation. The resurrection of Jesus is the power by which we are saved when we are baptized into Christ (1 Pet. 3:21). We must confess this faith (Rom. 10:9-10) and trust God to raise us up from the waters of baptism with the same power that raised Jesus from the tomb (Col. 2:12).
The power to live a new life. The resurrection of Jesus is the power by which we are raised to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4). Knowing Jesus is alive and well, and trusting His promise to always be with us (Mat. 28:20; Heb. 13:5-6) we are able to overcome every trial of life (Rom. 8:34-37) and are moved to live our lives for Him (2 Cor. 5:14-15). The tragedy is that many who profess to follow Christ are living as if He were still dead! Colossians 3:1-4 says that those who are “raised with Christ” must “seek those things which are above” because “Christ is our life”. It is not enough merely to believe that a man named Jesus was raised from the dead one Sunday morning 20 centuries ago! Our belief must make a practical difference in our lives: in our basic attitudes… in our values… in the way we treat others… in our daily conduct… (vv. 5ff). As Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
The Hope Of The Resurrection
The hope that is living, not dead (1 Pet. 1:3). When Jesus died all hope seemed to be gone, but with His resurrection our hope has been forever revived (Rev. 1:17-18). To Martha He said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die" (John 11:25-26).
The hope that we, too, will be raised from the dead (2 Cor. 4:14; 1 The. 4:13-17). This means everything! If there is no resurrection then nothing else matters. We all die to live no more. Satan, sin and death win. But because of the resurrection there is victory in Jesus and every reason to continue in the Lord (1 Cor. 15)!
The hope of an eternal inheritance (1 Pet. 1:4). It is beyond our minds, our world. All that God can do to give us a glimpse of this heavenly home is to compare it to the most wonderful things that we know (Rev. 21-22). Oh, what it will like to be there!
May God help us all, as Paul wrote, to “know Him and the power of His resurrection” (Phi. 3:10). Yes, Jesus can change your life, now and forever!