Why the Resurrection?

Posted: April 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

Resurrection Sunday 2012, “Why the Resurrection?”

Why did Jesus rise from the dead?  It’s a great question – after all, that’s exactly what we’re celebrating today: the historical fact that Jesus is alive, raised from the grave after being physically dead for three days.  Although every true born-again Christian will affirm that Jesus DID rise from the dead (someone cannot truly be a Christian if they don’t believe this, no matter what they otherwise claim), not many can say WHY Jesus needed to rise from the dead.  We hopefully understand why the cross was necessary, but why the resurrection?

The cross was necessary as a substitution.  Jesus died in your place & my place instead of us dying there.  Jesus bore our sins, instead of us bearing them.  Jesus took upon the wrath of God that we incurred due to our sinful rebellion.  As Isaiah wrote: Isaiah 53:4–6, "(4) Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. (5) But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. (6) All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all." []  Upon the cross, Jesus was the grand substitute on our behalf.  God the Father was angry with His beloved Son instead of with us, and because of that, we can experience the forgiveness & grace of God.  Our sin has not merely been set aside, it has been totally dealt with.  That’s the cross.  But what about the resurrection?

Simply put, the resurrection is the proof that the cross worked.  The fact that Jesus rose from the dead demonstrates without a shadow of doubt that His sacrifice at the cross was sufficient for all mankind.  It’s the proof that God gives to all the world that the gospel really is true.  The resurrection is all the proof required for us to place our faith and trust in Jesus as the Son of God.  To look at the empty tomb is all the proof we need to humble ourselves before Jesus & receive Him as our Lord & King.  Why the resurrection?  It was the proof of God the Father regarding God the Son.

Today, we’re going to look at four specific things that the resurrection proves:

  • It’s proof that God keeps His word.
  • It’s proof that Jesus is the Son of God
  • It’s proof that Jesus paid for our sins
  • It’s proof that Jesus offers resurrected life to us.

It’s proof that God keeps His word.  [Luke 24:13-27 – Road to Emmaus]

  • Jesus makes it clear that the disciples should have expected the suffering and resurrection of Christ.  Many of them had not, even though Jesus had told them repeatedly that the Son of Man would be handed over to the Jews & killed. (Mt 16,17,20, Mk 9,10, Lk 9,13,18)  Yet even beyond the personal teaching and prophecy of Jesus, the conversation on the road to Emmaus tells us that the prophecies of the cross & resurrection were all through the Old Testament.  Any student of the Scriptures ought to have known what to expect.  God hadn’t hidden a thing, and God always (always!) keeps His word.
  • The Garden of Eden (Gen 3:15).  Promised a bruise & a victory.
  • The psalms proclaimed that the Messiah would live forever as a priest in the order of Melchizedek (Ps 110:4)
  • The prophets declared exactly how the Messiah was to be revealed to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday (Zech 9:9), how He would be betrayed & how much was paid to the betrayer (Zech 11:12-13).
  • The psalms prophesied that the Messiah would be rejected, as the rejected stone being made the chief cornerstone (Ps 118:22)
  • The psalms specifically detailed the suffering of the cross decades before crucifixion was invented (Ps 22)
  • The psalms also specifically declared that the Messiah’s soul would not be left in the grave to corruption (Ps 16:10).
  • And the list could go on and on.  Repeatedly, the OT shows the Messiah to suffer and to reign – to endure rejection and to ascend to glory.  That sort of contrast would be absolutely impossible in the course of a normal life.  Even the most glorious king among men must one day die, and the person who endure the most abject suffering cannot be considered to reign, by any stretch of the imagination.  Only by death and resurrection could God keep His word to every promise of the OT.  The resurrection proves that God’s testimony through the Scripture is true.  (And if it’s true regarding Christ, what else could we possibly doubt?  EVERY word is true!)

It’s proof that Jesus is the Son of God.

  • Proof to the Jews.  Acts 2:29–36, "(29) “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. (30) Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, (31) he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. (32) This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. (33) Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. (34) “For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: ‘The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, (35) Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”’ (36) “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”" []
    • Here they are, on the day of Pentecost 50 days after the Passover celebration, during which Jesus had been crucified for sin, buried, and then risen from the grave.  The Risen Jesus had been among them for 40 days after that time, and then had physically ascended to His Father.  Now the disciples are only days after that event when the Holy Spirit suddenly comes upon them in a new & glorious way, and being filled with supernatural power, the disciples begin to speak in other languages they had never known before as they praised God.  The men of Jerusalem witnessing these things were astounded & bewildered at this when Peter stands up in their midst & starts to preach to them, explaining what was happening.  In the middle of his message, Peter lays it all out at the feet of the Jews telling them about Jesus, whom they had personally asked to be crucified (despite the signs & wonders Jesus had given them proving He was the Christ).  They knew well that Jesus had died – they were there.  They also knew well that Jesus was alive.  As Peter proclaimed these things to them, not a one raised their voice in protest saying that Jesus was still dead.  They KNEW Jesus was alive & Peter makes it clear that this was all the proof they needed to know that Jesus truly is the King of the Jews – the Messiah, God in the flesh.
    • The Messiah needed to be revealed first to the Jews before He could be revealed to the world, and He was.  Although many Gentiles came to Him, Jesus’ ministry was entirely within the boundaries of Israel, and He ensured that His primary ministry focus was to the Jews.  Not only was His ministry to the Jews, His resurrection was first proclaimed to them as well.  Jesus was risen from the dead, just as David has prophesied in the psalms that He would be – and it was such effective proof of Jesus’ identity as God that 3000 people placed their faith in Christ that day.
  • Proof to the Gentiles. Romans 1:1–4, "(1) Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God (2) which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, (3) concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, (4) and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead." []
    • Not only is the resurrection proof to the Jews, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is proof to all of the rest of the world that Jesus is God.  Paul says plainly that Jesus’ identity is absolutely declared by God “by the resurrection from the dead.”  Paul was writing to a Gentile church.  Certainly there were Jews in Rome who converted to the faith, but by & large we’d expect Gentiles to be in Rome (and that seems to be borne out by the Gentile names listed as greetings in Romans 16).  It’s one thing for someone to have an identity as the King of the Jews, but how is any Gentile supposed to know anything about this person?  The King of the Jews is no mere son of David, He is the promised & prophesied Son of David, who would also be called the Son of God.  To be called a Son of God (and thus to be called GOD) is no small matter.  Lots of people claim to be God all the time…many of them are confined to mental institutions.  What is lacking is definitive proof that someone is God.  The resurrection from the dead is exactly that definitive proof.
    • People have sometimes asked me, “What makes you so sure that Christianity is true?  After all, with all of the different religions out there, each one claiming to be the ‘right’ one, how do you know Christianity is truly it?”  My answer always comes back to the resurrection.  If the resurrection is true (of which we’ve got historical proof), then it is the absolute declaration that Jesus is the Son of God.  If Jesus is the Son of God, then everything the Bible says about Him is true, and that makes Christianity the one true religion in all the world.  Jesus made it clear when He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)  That’s a pretty tough claim which requires pretty solid evidence.  The resurrection gives us all the evidence we need.
  • Proof of the Judgment.  Paul had been in Athens, supposedly on a little break from ministry when he started telling other people about Christ (he simply couldn’t help himself!).  As a result of this new thing being taught among the people, Paul is given an audience with the elders of the city (the Aeropagus) where he is asked to proclaim these new things to them, in order that they could understand what is being taught.  He looks around their temple, seeing all sorts of idols, including one dedicated to “The Unknown God,” & then starts to preach about that God to them.  As he gets to the end of his message which proclaimed the holiness of God & the futility of idolatry, he turned to Jesus Christ.  Acts 17:29–31, "(29) Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. (30) Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, (31) because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”" []
    • Not only does the resurrection prove Jesus’ identity as God, it also proves His role as God in the judgment.  We know every single thing the Bible says about Jesus is true because God has raised Him from the dead.  We know that when the Bible tells us that Jesus is coming back in power & glory, that His 2nd coming is assured.  We know that when the Bible tells us that God will judge every man according to His actions & whether or not his name is listed in the Book of Life, that those things are certain to occur.  Jesus IS coming back to judge.  How do we know?  God raised Him from the dead.  Jesus’ resurrection certainly gives us a promise and hope of new life – it also gives us assurance of the final judgment yet to come. 
    • God judged sin absolutely & completely at the cross.  The fullness of His wrath was poured out upon Jesus Christ – not because of anything He had done, but because of everything we did (and continue to do).  Because sin has been judged at the cross, there’s not a single person that needs to endure the wrath of God today.  We can find safety & salvation in Jesus Christ by believing upon Him as Lord.  Yet what about those who refuse God’s gift of grace?  For them, God’s judgment in righteousness is absolutely certain.  Think about it – there’s no other option.  Once God’s judgment was poured out upon His Son, that judgment cannot be done in vain.  We’re either covered by Christ, or we face God in our sin.  That much is made known because Jesus is alive today, showing that the wrath of God is satisfied in Him & Him alone.
      • Be covered by Christ today!  He loves you & His desire for you is for you to be saved.  Put your faith in Him today.

It’s proof that Jesus paid for our sins.

  • We have a sure hope. 1 Peter 1:3–5, "(3) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (4) to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, (5) who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." []
    • Because Jesus is risen from the dead, we have a sure hope of eternal life.  Peter tells us that this hope is for an incorruptible & undefiled inheritance that will never fade away, and reserved in heaven until we arrive.  If you’ve placed your hope & trust in Jesus Christ as your Lord, you never have to worry that your place in heaven is going to be given away to someone else or that it’s somehow going to be tainted & stained by the things you’ve done here (since none of us are perfect).  Our inheritance is going to be perfect, and we have a sound assured hope (a faithful confidence) that this is exactly what we will receive.  We don’t have this hope because we’re such good people (we’re not).  We don’t have this hope because we’ve gone through the right rituals (we can’t).  We don’t have this hope because we’ve done all of the right things (we haven’t).  We have this hope for one reason & one reason only: the living Lord Jesus.  Jesus’ resurrection assures us that our hope of heaven is secure.
    • To be sure, there is far more to our salvation than just the promise of heaven.  The way some people understand the gospel, coming to faith in Christ is all about getting our ticket to heaven & nothing else in life matters.  Obviously, that’s not the case.  The gospel of the kingdom that Jesus shared in His earthly ministry is a gospel that takes up all of our lives – both what remains of our life here AND the promise of life that we have still to come.  Yet in our zeal to live out the abundant kingdom life here, let’s certainly not neglect to rejoice in the eternal hope that we have in Christ.  There is an inheritance we look forward to – there is still heaven to come in which we hope.  This is a good thing!  We certainly live as citizens of Christ’s kingdom right now, but we do not yet (and will not yet) see His kingdom in its fullness until He comes again.  We’re awaiting that day – we’re awaiting that inheritance – and because of Jesus’ resurrection, we’ve got that living hope.
  • We have imputed righteousness.  Romans 4:23–25, "(23) Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, (24) but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, (25) who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification." []  Paul had been writing of Abraham, who showed himself to be justified by faith.  Though he and his wife Sarah were well past the age of having children, when God gave him the promise of being a father of many nations, and of a son yet to come, Abraham believed God, and God accounted it to him for righteousness.  Abraham heard the word of God & believed it simply, and God gave to him (imputed to him) the righteousness necessary for salvation.  Paul’s point here is that the same principle applies to us.  We believe the work of Jesus Christ, and God imputes to us the righteousness we require to be saved.  Because of our sin, we have no righteousness of our own.  Because of our selfishness & rebellion against God, even the good things we’ve done in life are invariably tainted – we need the work of God to make us righteous, or we can never be saved. 
    • Yet notice the promise we have in Jesus’ resurrection: justification!  We who were not “right” in the sight of God can be made right (justified) because Jesus was raised from the dead.  He was given over (delivered) to the cross because of our sins, but so that we could be justified, Jesus was risen from the grave.  To put it simply, we look at the cross and know the price for sin has been paid; we look at the empty tomb and know that it has been paid for us.
    • That justification is available to anyone and everyone who believes upon the Lord Jesus.  That is a sure promise – avail yourself of it today!

It’s proof that Jesus gives resurrected life to us

  • Our resurrection is promised.  John 11:21–27, "(21) Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. (22) But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” (23) Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” (24) Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” (25) Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. (26) And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (27) She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”" []  The day was mournful for Mary & Martha.  Four days had passed since their brother Lazarus had died.  The only person who could have stopped death from coming had delayed His arrival, and now Jesus is there only at the funeral.  Obviously Jesus is available to comfort the mourners & grieve with those who grieve, but He also gives a wonderful promise: there is a resurrection yet to come.  We know the story – Jesus raises Lazarus from the grave, and it serves as a preview to His own resurrection.  Yet there’s something more Jesus is saying here: Jesus will not merely experience a resurrected life, Jesus IS the resurrected life, and Jesus GIVES resurrected life to those who believe in Him.
    • Don’t miss this.  Today we remember and rejoice that Jesus is risen from the dead.  But there is also another resurrection to which we look forward: our own!  Yes, we will die.  The death rate remains at 100% & won’t change until the day of the rapture.  Yet those who die in Christ WILL be raised again to life by Christ.  If you believe in Jesus as the Lord God in the flesh, though you die, you shall live.  Just as Jesus was raised to physical life beyond the grave, so will everyone who believes in Him be raised to physical life beyond the grave.  That leads us to our final point…
  • Our resurrection is prefaced.  [1 Corinthians 15:12-23]  So much can be said in that passage.  Of course the resurrection Jesus Christ is the very foundation for our faith – if He wasn’t raised from the dead, we have absolutely no reason to believe in Him at all, and any hope we would have in Him would be useless.  Paul’s context in saying all of that was to show that if Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead, then we have no hope in being raised from the dead either.  Yet here’s the glorious truth: Jesus IS risen from the dead.  Because He is risen from the dead, we have assurance that WE will be raised too.  This is not a fairy tale that is too-good-to-be-true.  This is not an esoteric idea that we try to spiritualize & philosophize away.  Our future physical resurrection is a fact.  We know it’s a fact because Jesus has been physically raised from the dead.  Because He was, we will be as well.  He was the firstfruits of the resurrection – He precedes and prefaces all who follow Him.  That’s you & me & everyone who has faith in Christ.
    • Keep in mind there is more than one resurrection.  Jesus taught that there will be a resurrection of life & a resurrection of condemnation (John 5:29).  Only those who have been made righteous in Jesus Christ will be participates in the resurrection of life.  Others will be raised from the dead, but they’ll be raised precisely for eternal judgment.  The resurrection is assured.  Which resurrection will be the one in which you partake?

In the resurrection, we’ve been given proof upon proof of Jesus’ identity & work.  God has shown without a doubt who His Son is, what His Son has done, and what His Son offers to us.  Yet for many people, the question might be this: “That’s all well & good, but what about the actual event?  How can I know that the resurrection really happened?”  That’s actually a great question & one that must be answered with certainty, for as Paul pointed out, if we can’t actually believe in a literal resurrection, our faith is in vain.  The historical fact is simply this: Jesus DID literally rise from the dead the Sunday morning after the Passover celebration during which He was crucified.  This is something the Bible addresses in depth, simply because the claim is so incredible to believe.  The book of Acts even begins with this question, stating that Jesus had presented Himself alive to His apostles, showing “many infallible proofs” over a period of 40 days before He ascended to heaven. (Acts 1:3).  Jesus took considerable effort to demonstrate to the disciples that He is truly physically alive prior to His ascension, precisely in order that there would be no confusion about it.

How do we know that Jesus is alive today?

  • The resurrection was attested by the Romans. (The seal, the guard, the bribe)
  • The resurrection was attested by the Jews. (The day of Pentecost, the bribe)
  • The resurrection was attested by the Apostles. (Their faithfulness & changed lives)
  • The resurrection is still being attested by every born again believer today.  We are all witnesses of the Risen Christ, and every born-again Christian can give testimony as to what Jesus has done on our behalf.

Conclusion:
Knowing that the resurrection is true, and knowing what the resurrection proves, the question is this: how will you respond to it?

  • Christians can celebrate
  • Christians can hope
  • Christians can share

 

If you’re not yet a Christian, know this: our greatest desire is that you would become what we are.  How important it is for you to deal with the question of Jesus’ resurrection, and place your faith in Him as Savior & Lord!  This is not something to put off in an attempt to deal with later.  This is not something that can simply be ignored.  This is not something that can be defied.  Sooner or later, you WILL come face-to-face with the Risen Jesus.  The only question is: how will you see Him?  Will you rejoice to finally see your Savior, or will you tremble before the Living God?  You’ve heard why Jesus went to the cross: to pay the price for your sin against God – to be your substitute.  You’ve heard that Jesus has risen from the dead, proving that He is who the Bible says He is.  That is something to which you must respond.  Turn away from your sins today, and believe upon Jesus Christ, asking for His forgiveness – asking for Him to be your personal Lord & King.  He promises to save all who come to Him in faith.  Not some, but all: John 6:37–40, "(37) All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. (38) For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. (39) This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. (40) And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”" []

If you see the Son for who He is – if you believe that He is God & risen from the dead, then you too can have everlasting life & promise of your own resurrection.  You can have that wonderful assurance today.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s