He is risen! He is not here. -Mark 16:6c

 

The resurrection embodies the power of God available to humanity. The resurrection is God’s imprimatur on the cross-work of His only Son Jesus. The resurrection is something unique to Christianity and something many fail to experience the full effect of because they do not understand its significance. Let’s look at the power of the resurrection and pray God uses it to have its full and powerful impact on your life.

In the Gospel of Mark it states:

Mark 16:6 – “But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him.”

The angel calmly comforted those who were learning of the resurrection of Jesus for the first time. The resurrection is powerful and awesome and must have been shocking to those first witnesses. Jesus wasn’t there, “He is risen, as He said.” Those are powerful words. Why are they powerful?

It was extremely important that the stone be moved from the tomb entrance and these women learn of the resurrection of their Savior Jesus Christ. Over three hundred (300!) verses are devoted to Jesus’ resurrection in the New Testament. It is extremely important for believers to grasp and recognize the import of the resurrection because without it our faith is futile.

The resurrection is the linchpin, the power of the Christian faith. The resurrection is God’s exclamation mark on the work of His Son Jesus Christ. The resurrection is the evidence of the completion of Christ’s work and that it was acceptable to God for atonement and forgiveness of sin. Therefore, what place and purpose does the resurrection have in the life? What power does the resurrection manifest?

First, the Resurrection is a Powerful Sign For Unbelievers. The resurrection is a powerful sign for unbelievers. This means that in light of the resurrection, there is no excuse to not come to Jesus for salvation. Jesus stated:

  • Matthew 12:38-41 – “Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.”39 But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.40 “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.41 “The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here.”

The resurrection is one of the most well documented and provable events in history and as such unbelievers should take it to heart and come to the Lord. If any skeptic truly seeks out the truth of the resurrection, they will come to see the truth of it. Many have sought to study the resurrection in an effort to refute it only to find that it truly happened just as He said it would and ultimately came to faith in Christ (Matthew 28:6). (See Who Moved The Stone by Frank Morison, a skeptic who came to Christ when he investigated the resurrection). Before you forget about the resurrection and whether or not the gospel is for you, you need to check it out and see for yourself. If you fail to do so, you will not only miss out on the meaning and purpose you were created for, but you will miss out on eternal life.

Second, the Resurrection has the Power to Destroy Doubt. Jesus gave the ultimate answer to anyone who would antagonistically say to Him, “Show me!” His answer was His power over death displayed in the resurrection. Read what Jesus said to those who doubted:

  • Luke 24:38-43 – “And He said to them, Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts?39 “Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.”40 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet.41 But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, “Have you any food here?”42 So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb.43 And He took it and ate in their presence.”

The reality of the resurrection destroys doubts because if Jesus is raised from the dead, than any and all other obstacles to belief in Him are eliminated.

Third, the Resurrection is a Declaration That Jesus is The Son of God, God. While those who follow God are often called “sons of God,” Jesus was referred to uniquely as, “the Son of God” (Mark 1:1; 3:11; 15:39; Matthew 8:29; 26:63-64; John 10:36). Don Stewart explains the significance of Son of God” as a title of Jesus when he states:

The title “Son of God” indicates the relationship the Father had with the Son. The Son was equal to the Father [John 1:1-3,14], yet He, unlike the Father, became a man. In doing so, He put Himself in a position of submission in which He obeyed the will of the Father. The sonship refers to His position as servant, not His nature as being less than God.

We may say therefore that Jesus, though the same substance as the Father, took that relationship of Son upon Himself by submitting to the wishes of the Father. As the Son He is no less God, He is merely taking on the role of a servant to show us what God is like and what He requires of us. [1]

The resurrection is important to establishing and revealing that Jesus is the Son of God. The apostle Paul was inspired to say that through the resurrection, Jesus is declared to be the Son of God. We see this in Romans where it states:

  • Romans 1:1-4 – “Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God2 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.”

The resurrection is the Spirit’s way of pointing unbelievers to take notice of who Jesus is, the Son of God, God in the flesh.

As Son of God, Jesus is higher than the angels as shown in the following verses:

  • Hebrews 1:1-5 – “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,4 having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. 5 For to which of the angels did He ever say: 1 “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You”? And again: “I will be to Him a Father, And He shall be to Me a Son”?”

Jesus is higher than the angels AND IS EQUAL WITH GOD. We see this in the following verses.

As the Son of God Jesus is the second Person of the Triune Godhead as the baptismal formula indicates:

  • Matthew 28:19 – “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,”

As the Son of God Jesus is God and should be honored with the same honor as the Father, as seen in the following verses:

  • John 5:22-23 – “For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son,23 “that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.”

Jesus the Son of God shares in the Father’s glory. We see this in the following verses:

  • John 17:1-5 – “Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You,2 “as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.3 “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.4 “I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.5 “And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.”

You can’t have the Father without the Jesus His Son and you can’t have the Son Jesus without the Father. You can’t see Jesus as less in nature and substance than God the Father; if you do, you lose both. The Scripture states this in the following verses:

  • 1 John 2:23-24 – “Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also. 24 Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.”

It is through faith in Jesus the Son of God that a person is saved from their sins and given eternal life as seen in the following verses:

  • John 3:18,36 – “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. . . 36 “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
  • John 6:40 – “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.”
  • John 20:30-31 – “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book;31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

Now all of this is declared and validated as true through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Fourth, The Resurrection Proves Jesus’ Teachings Are True, Authoritative and Powerful. Jesus’ resurrection validates and confirms that what He said was true. Jesus is faithful to His word. Not only that, but the resurrection demonstrates that Jesus has the power to fulfill His word. Jesus walked His talk; He backed up what He said by doing what He said He would do.

In Matthew 16 it states:

  • Matthew 16:21 – “From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.” (Compare Mark 8:31-32)

The promise of the resurrection was something emphasized by Jesus in His mission and ministry. Had He not risen from the dead, all of what He said would have been proven a lie. But since He did rise from the dead, all that He said is proven truthful.

Without the resurrection Christianity would be relegated to the scrap heap of all other religions. The power of the resurrection is indispensable to Chr9istiaintiy and is what sets Christianity apart from mere religion (i.e. mans’ pursuit of God) and puts it in the realm of relying on the finished work and power of Jesus Christ in death on the cross and resurrection from the dead. Without the resurrection, there is no redemption or acceptable atoning work because the resurrection is God’s stamp of acceptance and approval on the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Without the resurrection, what Jesus said and taught are mere empty words. With the resurrection, the words of Christ are full and powerful.

It was on the basis of the resurrection that Peter and Paul proclaimed the Gospel powerfully because the resurrection confirmed the truth of it:

  • Acts 2:22-24 – “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know—23 “Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death;24 “whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.

Peter preached the gospel fearlessly in Jerusalem, the very City where Jesus had been publicly executed on the cross. What the Spirit used powerfully was the fact of the resurrection. When Peter preached the gospel on Pentecost, the empty tomb of Jesus was just a stones throw away. There was no denying the power of Jesus to fulfill His promise to rise from the dead (Matthew 16:21; Mark 8:31-32; 9:10-11; Luke 9:21-22; John 2:19-22).

Paul explained the power and indispensability of the resurrection to Christianity when he was inspired to write:

  • 1 Corinthians 15:12-20 – “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?13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen.14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.15 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.16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen.17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.”

The resurrection proves the authority and power of Jesus teachings.

Fifth, the Resurrection Is the Power of the Gospel. The resurrection is central to the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ; you cannot accept Jesus without accepting the resurrection. You would not want to accept Jesus without the resurrection because without the resurrection Jesus becomes just another teacher. Worse than that, without the resurrection Jesus becomes a liar who misled people to think He would rise from the dead. And without the resurrection Jesus become just another impotent teacher. But with the resurrection, the gospel is infused with power over death, with the power of reality and truth. Peter said in his sermon at Cornelius’ house:

  • Acts 10:34-40 – “Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality.35 “But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.36 “The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all—37 “that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached:38 “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.39 “And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree.40 “Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly,

To the Corinthians the apostle Paul writes:

  • 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 – “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand,2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,”

The resurrection is central to the power of the gospel message. There is no gospel without the resurrection. The gospel has no power without the resurrection.

Sixth, The Resurrection Demonstrates the Power For Life Available to the Believer. When the apostle Paul discusses the practical application of the righteous life he does so referring to the resurrection because if the resurrection is possible, all other obstacles in life pale in comparison. If God in Christ had the power to defeat death, every other obstacle in life pales in comparison. Read how Paul includes reference to the resurrection as demonstrating the power of God available to the believer:

  • Romans 6:4-14 – “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.5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” (See Philippians 3:10)

The power of God demonstrated in the resurrection is the same power that is made available to the believer to live life. The apostle Paul wanted every believer to know this and said so through Divine inspiration when he wrote:

  • Ephesians 1:15-21 – “Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints,16 do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers:17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him,18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.”

Indeed Paul was inspired to write that knowing this power was of the utmost importance for people:

  • Philippians 3:7-11 – “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

The resurrection is not simply a theological truth or something that happened millennia ago. The resurrection shows us the power of God that is at our disposal in life now! Disciple, you need to know and apply the power of the resurrection to your lives!

Seventh, The Resurrection Gives the Believer Power by Giving Them Hope for The Future. The resurrection empowers the believer to encounter the unknown future and the unknown of death because Jesus has conquered death and gone one before us to prepare a place for the believer. The resurrection gives the believer hope at the point of death and beyond as the following verses state:

  • John 11:25 – “Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.”
  • 1 Corinthians 15:54-58 – “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.”55 “O Death, where is your sting? 1 O Hades, where is your victory?”56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.58 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.”
  • Philippians 3:20-21 – “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.”

The resurrection of Jesus is the proof that He is able to remove any stone in your life that is keeping you from Himself. That gives us hope. Peter said it best when he was inspired to write:

  • 1 Peter 1:3 – “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,”

Eight, the resurrection is God’s stamp of approval that the atoning sacrifice of Jesus was, is and always will be sufficient to fully and completely satisfy His just and holy requirement of the Law as it pertains to the forgiveness of sins. This is a truth of pure and limitless grace. IN John’s inspired account of the crucifixion of Jesus it states:

  • John 19:30 – “So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.”

“It is finished!” Theses words indicate that Jesus declared that all of the Father’s just and holy requirements of the Law were satisfied so that on the basis of His cross-work and only on the basis of His cross-work, a person could come to God and by trusting in Jesus’ redemptive work, seek forgiveness for their sins and receive forgiveness justly. God doesn’t just overlook sin when He forgives, He forgives on the basis of the just and satisfactory work of His only Son Jesus. This is what Jesus declares when He says, “It is finished!”

But there is more to this story. Jesus’ words, “It is finished!” are powerful and packed with truth and substance. But it is the resurrection that validates His claim. Jesus said, “It is finished!” and it is the resurrection that proves the words true. The resurrection of Jesus declares the work necessary to make salvation possible is completed; God’s justice is satisfied. That’s important because it also means, there is no more work to accomplish, there is no more outstanding debt of sin to be paid for those seeking salvation. The sinner does not have to work their way into God’s good graces, they merely have to plead the blood of Jesus, they merely have to come by God’s grace through faith in Jesus and receive the gift of salvation based on the cross and resurrection of Jesus. Glory! Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!

The resurrection makes good works for salvation unnecessary. The resurrection makes purgatory unnecessary. The resurrection makes it possible to come freely, as we are to receive forgiveness for our sins, always.

Not Permission to Sin; but Power to Not Sin

A word of caution and correction; even in Paul’s day people were inclined to abuse and misinterpret this great provision of God (Romans 6:1ff.). While good works and a holy life are not necessary for salvation, that does not mean we have a license to sin. Quite the contrary, God’s grace does not provide us with permission to sin; God’s grace provides us with power not to sin. God in Christ does not save us to indulge our sinful self or be sinfully selfish, carnal and fleshly. God in Christ makes a way to overcome enslaving sin and the sinful self (2 Corinthians 5:14-21). God’s provision of grace in Christ’s cross and resurrection should so impact us with the love of God that we no longer live for ourselves but live lives of loving appreciation shown in the offering of good works and selflessness to God for His glory. This is God’s plan (1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Ephesians 2:10).

Getting Rid of That Heavy Stone Burden of Sin

We have said that the religious leaders of Jesus’ day heaped religious burdens on those who they ruled. Life is filled with burdens that weigh us down. These burdens keep us from soaring with the Lord. How can we rid ourselves of the heavy stony burden?

We need to first realize that no matter the form our burden takes, it is sin. Either our burden is the result of sin generally or it is the result of sin in particular that we have done. The Bible states:

  • Psalm 38:4 – “For my iniquities have gone over my head; Like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me.”

Once we accept that we are weighted down by sin, we need to bring our sinful burden to the LORD:

  • Psalm 55:22 – “Cast your burden on the Lord, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.”

Jesus is the One who bore our burden of sin for us and when we put our faith in Him, give Him our burden by faith, and believe in Him, He has the power and will remove our burdens from us. As Isaiah wrote:

  • Isaiah 53:4-6 – “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.” (See also 1 Peter 2:21-24)

We need to receive the gift of salvation offered in Christ (John 1:12; Romans 6:23) and by faith trust Jesus to take away our burdens of sin. The heart of the gospel is the resurrection of Jesus because when you believe in the resurrection of Jesus, you are saying you believe everything else he said. Paul put it this way:

  • Romans 10:8-9 – “But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach):9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

What is it to believe in your heart that God has raised Jesus from the dead? Is it not to trust in faith that the stone meant to shut Him up in that cold hard tomb has been rolled away? It is to believe that Jesus really is able; He has the power to take away your burdens of sin. Confess then that Jesus is Lord for having done this, and that by the power of the resurrection He is able to forgive sin.

 

[1] Don Stewart, What Everyone Needs To Know About Jesus, (Orange County, CA: Dart Press) p. 83-84