We are asking two important questions at this point in our special series about Christianity’s Core Belief:
- Why Did Jesus Die?
- Why Did Jesus Rise From The Dead?
Yesterday, we asked the first question. Today, we will ask and answer the second question: why did Jesus rise from the dead?
The Apostle Paul was a strong believer in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He knew Jesus was alive because Jesus called Him personally to follow Him. Paul had also spent time with Jesus learning directly from Him. Paul believed Christ’s Resurrection was foundational to God’s demonstration of His Grace and our salvation. Paul believed Christ was the first one to rise from the dead and that every Christian had the hope of personal resurrection because of Christ. Paul spoke clearly about it before crowds of people everywhere. He was not shy about what he knew to be true.
Here is the Truth Claim –
“Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’ And they remembered His words.” Luke 24:1-8
The power of these verses is staggering! A man was brutally killed on a wooden cross, buried in a tomb, and came back to life three days later. During the days following the Resurrection, people who knew this Man well see Him, touch Him, hear Him, talk to Him, eat with Him, and learn from Him. They spend many days and nights with Him, then watch as He ascends into the sky surrounded by angels. Is this a fairy tale? lie? legend? No! It’s the truth.
Jesus Christ is that Man. He was delivered into the hands of sinful men who mocked and killed Him. Jesus is the Man Who died the cruel death of crucifixion. He was the Man buried in a tomb guarded by Roman soldiers so that no one could take away His body. Jesus was the Man Who rose from death to live again. Jesus was the Man who proved His resurrection to hundreds of people before returning to Heaven by ascending into the sky with His angels. Jesus is the Man!
“Then certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him. And some said, ‘What does this babbler want to say?’ Others said, ‘He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods,’ because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection.” Acts 17:18
“… 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.” Acts 17:31
“But when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, ‘Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee; concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged!” Acts 23:6
“… unless it is for this one statement which I cried out, standing among them, ‘Concerning the resurrection of the dead I am being judged by you this day.” Acts 24:21
“Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come—that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.” Acts 26:22-23
Paul wrote about it in his many letters to friends:
“… concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” Romans 1:3-4
“Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection … Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:4-5, 8-11
“… that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:10-11
“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 4:14
Paul’s greatest explanation of Christ’s resurrection and its impact on Christians is found in his first letter to friends at Corinth:
“Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. For ‘He has put all things under His feet.’ But when He says ‘all things are put under Him,’ it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all. Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead? And why do we stand in jeopardy every hour? I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. If, in the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantage is it to me? If the dead do not rise, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!’ Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits.’ Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame. But someone will say, ‘How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?’ Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies. And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain—perhaps wheat or some other grain. But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body. All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?’ The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is about VICTORY! God is victorious through the resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ, and those who follow Christ into that resurrection. What has been the defeat of mankind since the time of Adam and Eve? Sin and death! Adam sinned and died. People have been sinning and dying ever since. Has that defeated God? Absolutely not! God had a plan for victory even before Adam sinned. Jesus Christ is the sacrificial Lamb who God sent to earth to take away the sins of the world. Jesus died for us. He shed His blood for us. He agonized on the cross because of and for us. He was buried in our place.
If Jesus had died on the cross and remained in the tomb, we could have forgiveness of sins, but that’s only part of what God planned. If Jesus remained in the grave, God would not have won the victory. The victory was complete in Christ’s resurrection. Jesus beat death. He beat sin. He beat Satan. Jesus WON!
Jesus Christ died for our sins. Jesus rose for our justification.
“Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.” Romans 4:23-25
Christians stand before God as free people. We stand before Him justified (made righteous). We stand before Him with an eternal future of life and joy. No one else can say this. Christians are alone in this amazing light…the light of Victory. The resurrection is that Victory!
“When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
Our lives are about to be changed forever. We are about to experience the resurrection of Christ in our own bodies. We are about to see what it is to change from perishable to imperishable … from mortal to immortal. It may be today. It may tomorrow. It may be next week, next month, or next year. The fact is we ARE going to change. We WILL be victorious. Christ’s resurrection is proof of that. Then we can sing with Paul, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
“The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:56-57
Look at what Christ did for us through His death and resurrection! He gave us victory over death, sin and the law. We are victorious!
I’ll be the first to tell you that Christians don’t always act victorious. We often get defeated and discouraged. We often wonder why such awful things befall us in life. We often wonder why we’re so weak. We are allowing sin and the law to keep a grip on us even though we’re spiritually free of their grip. What do we do about that? Apply the principles of Victorious Living. Here’s what God taught the Apostle Paul to do about it.
“And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:18-23
We are “free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” We need to be smart about our freedom. We need to understand the working of our victory. We needed God in the beginning and we’ll need Him in the end. It’s silly to think we can depend on God completely for our salvation and then just throw Him aside and live out the rest of our lives without Him and be successful. We were slaves to sin. Now we are slaves to righteousness. We offered our body and mind to sin. Now we offer our body and mind to righteousness which leads to holiness. It’s a process. We don’t get everything overnight. We have to work at it. Being a slave or servant of something or someone means we work, work, work. Being a servant of God means we spend a lot of time listening, learning, praising, and doing. Look at what Paul told the Corinthians about their victory through Jesus.
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58
We were created in Christ Jesus with a view toward “good works.”
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10
God does not say living a victorious life will be easy. In fact, He makes it clear it will be hard and we will have trouble. However, it will not be in vain. We have a great reward. It’s the reward of pleasing Him Who so Graciously gave us everything. It’s the reward of spending eternity with Christ in great joy. That’s our victory. Sin, death, the law … they can’t do anything to us now. We are on our way to the great resurrection. Jesus rose and so will we!
“The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love to all of you in Christ Jesus. Amen.”
We invite you to watch this video by Dr. John Lennox about whether a scientist can believe in the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.
Rejoice! Jesus is Risen!!
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.