Echoes of the Resurrection
“He is not here, but is risen.”—Luke 24:6
Nowhere do the rays of divine light shine with greater reflective glory than upon the resurrection message. It is inimitable, incontrovertible, incomparable and absolutely indispensable to the faith “once delivered to the saints.” It healed a baffled guard, hallowed a borrowed grave and heralded a blessed gospel of grace.
No greater proof of the immutability of God’s eternal purpose is obtainable than that which inheres in the fact of Christ’s resurrection. The skeptic denies it, the agnostic ignores it, the atheist rejects it—yet it stands as the basic factor of our faith, totally unaffected by the bitterest and most unscrupulous attacks. It is the hinge upon which all the essential truths of the Scriptures swing and the premise upon which Christianity depends for its validity and value.
A Pointed Prediction
Prophetic signposts predominate along the pathway of Scripture. Each one is found to be the “Finger of God” (Exodus 8:19). Relative to the resurrection the record is replete with reverberating notes of assurances (Luke 24:27). Jonah in the prepared fish was a prefigure (Matthew 12:40) and the temple razed and reared in three days and remembered after His resurrection (John 2:22) was the symbol which Jesus solemnly cited when asked for a sign (John 2:19).
Christ carried our sorrows (Isaiah 53:4), was concerned with our sins (Isaiah 53:6), but contemplated satisfaction for the travail of His soul (Isaiah 53:11). He was forsaken (Psalm 22:1) but not forgotten of the Father (Psalm 16:10). Without a resurrection, His cry was prophetically voiced in vain.
A Positive Proof
No greater proof could be produced than that of His presence subsequent to the crucifixion (John 20:19). The empty tomb so evidently told the same triumphant truth (John 20:8), but the doubters daringly disseminated their deceptive doctrines (Matthew 28:13). He presented his pierced person to dissipate the doubt of a disciple (John 20:27) and broke bread with fainting fisherman (John 21:13) who had failed but for His favor (John 21:6). He walked by the way with some (Luke 24:15) and was willing to be worshipped by others (Matthew 28:17). Later we see Him leading His heralds to Bethany and there lifting His hands in blessing (Luke 24:50). Then, in sparkling splendor, with eyes toward the skies, they saw Him go as He said (John 14:3), ascending through the heavens to return in like manner (Acts 1:11). These were competent witnesses (Acts 2:32).
A Phenomenal Power
“I have power to lay it down and power to take it again” (John 10:18). This assertion is unparalleled in human history. A Houdini may paraphrase it, but time proves the folly both of impotence and incompetence. All power in heaven and on Earth was given to our Lord (Matthew 28:18). This power was to bring Him forth a victor. Before its force, the sepulcher was insecure (Matthew 27:66), the seal worthless (Luke 24:2), the soldiers helpless (Matthew 28:4) and Satan outwitted (Matthew 27:64). He was declared (marked) the Son of God with power by the resurrection (Romans 1:4). This power was pronounced by Christ on previous occasions. He could raise His body (John 2:19); He could reclaim His life (John 10:18). This prediction of power provoked derision in the first instance (John 2:20) and prompted division in the other (John 10:19).
The Apostle Paul yearned for an experiential knowledge of the power that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus (Philippians 3:10). Nor was his desire unrealized. His knowledge was most authenticity obtained (1 Corinthians 11:23) and most convincingly confirmed (Philippians 3:14), and every Christian pilgrim who presses and plods onward and upward finds that Paul’s desires is decidedly his own personal need.
A Perfect Premise
The moral man may enshroud himself with aprons of leaves (Genesis 3:7), the wicked may weave their webs of works (Isaiah 59:7), and together they may build their house upon the sand (Matthew 7:26), but the believer has a sure foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11).
The resurrection makes preaching legitimate (1 Corinthians 15:14), faith valid (1 Corinthians 15:17) and Christianity unique. Because He lives (John 14:19), and because He is our life (Colossians 3:4), we live indeed (Galatians 2:20). As a tenet of faith, this syllogism is Christianity’s peculium. Our great Leader emerged on the other side of death (Revelation 1:18) and assured His followers, “Where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:3). “Cast not away, therefore, your confidence” (Hebrews 10:35). He lives!
A Purposed Provision
From whatever mountain peak of prophecy or door of doctrine or window of wisdom we view the wise and wonderful economy of God, we must of necessity be impressed with this obvious observation: man, though wicked and unworthy, is the recipient of God’s unbounded love. “O to grace, how great a debtor, daily I’m constrained to be!”
Objectively, justification of the sinner is the direct provision of His glorious resurrection (Romans 4:25) which in turn produces peace with God (Romans 5:1). Perhaps we can more definitely delight in its precious provision were we to pause and ponder a while on the side of negation. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul dares to list our loss had Christ not arisen: there could be no purposeful preaching (v. 14), no fundamental faith (v. 17), no assurance of seeing those now asleep in Christ (v. 18). His summation of this peculiar problem is superlative in its expression—“of all men MOST miserable” (v. 19). However, as the dew distills before the sun, so the necessity of this negation is obviated by the Saviour: “Because I live, ye too shall live” (John 14:19). There is no reason now why God shall not give us all things freely through Christ (Romans 8:32).
A Pressing Preclusion
“Neither can they prove…” (Acts 24:13). This was the Apostle’s refutation of the incriminating retorts relative to the resurrection. Felix faltered in the face of Paul’s forcefulness. Though called in question before the council (Acts 24:21), his conscience was void of offence (Acts 24:16). Whatever the insurrection (Acts 24:7), the resurrection remained real (Acts 24:15). The prophets predicted it (Acts 24:14), Peter presented it (Acts 2:24), as Paul must preach it however pronounced the persecution (Acts 21:30).
A Portentous Principle
When Aaron had performed the ministrations of expiation, he blessed the people and retired into the Tabernacle (Leviticus 9:22-23). When our High Priest finished His expiatory work (John 19:30) he blessed His disciples and retired (Luke 24:50). Christ’s sacrifice, while for our eternal good, was primarily for the Father’s glory. The offences were expiated (Romans 4:25) and the offenders propitiated (Colossians 1:14). The scope of this work is both universal and eternal (1 John 2:2). The Father’s satisfaction was evidenced when by His glory Christ was raised from the dead (Romans 6:4).
A Penitent’s Prospect
The divine attitude toward those of a broken heart and contrite sprit is tenderly taught in Psalm 34:18. Those who turn in faith to the Saviour do not seek His salvation in vain (John 6:37) and no sooner does a thirsty sinner stoop to drink of that life-giving stream until he may have a conscious knowledge of the consummation of that which is begun in him (Philippians 1:6). One day he will be like his Lord and shall see Him as He is (1 John 3:2). One day he will join His Lord never to be separated from His presence (1 Thessalonians 4:17). One day he will receive a reserved inheritance (1 Peter 1:4). One day he will participate in heaven’s redemption song (Revelation 5:9). All of this and infinitely more, because one day Christ arose and became the believer’s forerunner to heaven (Hebrews 6:20).
A Pending Priesthood
“The good Shepherd giveth His life for His sheep” (John 10:11). This was accomplished through crucifixion. The great Shepherd liveth for His sheep (Hebrews 7:25). This resulted from resurrection. The dying Shepherd is equally the living Shepherd for the crucified One was brought again from the dead (Hebrews 13:20). The veil was rent in His death (Matthew 27:51); the Holy of Holies was entered by His resurrection and ascension (Acts 1:11). Jehovah vowed that Christ should be a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4). Thus, death could not hold its prey. Christ arose!
A Promised Parousia
The involvements of the resurrection of Christ are infinite. His resurrection necessitated His ascension and His ascension brought the promise and character of His return (Acts 1:11). He ascended to present the blood of the atonement in the presence of the Father; He will descend to deliver up the kingdom to God (1 Corinthians 15:24).
This advent will bring restoration to Israel (Acts 1:6), judgment to the nations (Matthew 25:32), destruction to Antichrist (2 Thessalonians 2:8), incarceration to the devil (Matthew 12:29), redemption to creation (Romans 8:22; Isaiah 11:6), establishment of the throne (Isaiah 9:6), but not until the church of the firstborn is joyfully united to its glorious Head (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). This whole panoramic outlook is changed from vanity to glorious certainty because “He arose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:4).
A Precious Proclamation
The resurrection message is heavens victory proclamation made vocal among men. It has the ring of hope for the sinner, the note of triumph for the saint and the soundest proof for the Saviour’s sovereign claim. All matters pertaining to Him and eternal life rest upon this keystone of Christian doctrine. His pre-existence (John 17:5). His virgin birth (Matthew 1:18), His perfect life (Hebrews 4:15), His substitutionary death (Isaiah 53:5), His intercession (Hebrews 7:25), and His coming again (John 14:3) all rest solidly upon the fact of the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:14). It constitutes the premise for a positive profession of faith (Romans 10:9), a present possessive hope (John 14:19) and a prospective plan of eternal satisfaction (Psalm 17:15).
It is a living message for a dying world. It is exclusive as a tenet of faith, unique as a doctrine, singular in its importance and transcendent in its glorious display of divinity. When its power and provisions are proclaimed the stone of doubt is rolled away from rebellious hearts as the seal fell from the tomb, the devil is stopped as the guards were stunned and the dead in trespasses and sins are quickened and raised to the newness of life. Glorious message this!