Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) once said, "Is there any meaning in my life that the inevitable death awaiting me does not destroy?"
Wouldn’t it be great if there was someone, somewhere, who had the last word over death?
The good news and unique message of the Christian faith is that there is someone who has the last word over death. Death has been ultimately defeated by Jesus Christ! In John 11:25-26, Jesus made this astonishing declaration:
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"
What are the implications of the resurrection of Christ? What difference does it make? In my next few articles, I will address these questions.
1) Because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we can know without a doubt that there is life beyond the grave and we don’t have to fear death.
It is profoundly significant that the first recorded words of Jesus after the resurrection were these: “Do not be afraid!” (Matthew 28:10). Hebrews 2:14-15 says the following about Jesus’ victory over our greatest enemy:
“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death — that is, the devil — and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”
2) Because of the resurrection, we can live in hope!
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is not simply a matter of past history, it is also a matter of future hope. This historical event is God’s assurance that we can have forgiveness for the past, a new life in the present and hope for the future. It is testimony that we can go to heaven and that something better is available for us than this present messed up world. The apostle Peter put it this way, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Peter 1:3)
Paul writes to assure us that when a Christian dies we do not need to mourn as others do, saying,
“Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-16)
He also reminds us that the resurrection of Christ is the foreshadowing of the resurrection of his followers: “… if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” (Romans 8:11)
3) The resurrection shows that Jesus of Nazareth was God among us.
The resurrection of Christ is not only the supreme fact in human history, but the ultimate proof that Jesus was who he claimed to be. It suggests a stamp of approval from God himself and it shows that God endorsed Jesus as the true Messiah. The resurrection cast a whole new light on Jesus’ life, identity, ministry, teachings and death. If God raised Jesus from the dead then evidently he affirmed and agreed with all that Jesus did and taught. In other words, God was effectively saying “Yes” to all of Jesus’ shocking claims, actions and teachings.
4) The resurrection gave meaning to Jesus’ death.
The events of the Sunday morning after the crucifixion gave a whole new meaning to the events of the previous Friday. The resurrection suggested that Jesus’ death was no accident, but instead was the climax of God’s long-intended divine plan to rescue us, free us and provide a way to be forgiven for our sins. Peter said it this way in his sermon just 50 days after Jesus was killed: “Jesus was handed over according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God.” (Acts 2:23) At the last supper, Jesus had spoken of “giving his life as a ransom for many” and his body being broken and his blood poured out for the “forgiveness of sins.” The resurrection is testimony that he was telling the truth and that because of his death, we can have forgiveness, freedom, hope and a new life.
This article is an excerpt from Russ Whitten’s book, "Have You Ever Wondered?" available on www.amazon.com.
Russ Whitten, former minister of Destin Church of Christ, now preaches every Sunday at the 9:30 a.m. Harbor Worship Service at Brotula’s Restaurant in Destin and then at the 11:30 a.m. service at The Downtown Church, meeting at Enlightened Studios, 144 Miracle Strip Parkway SE in Fort Walton Beach. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.