“Tis impossible to be sure of anything but Death and Taxes,” said English actor and dramatist, Christopher Bullock in 1716. We can be even more sure of the resurrection.
In 1789, Ben Franklin changed Bullock’s statement a bit and said, “In this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes.” Theologically, Ben Franklin’s quote is more accurate because he limited his observation to things “in this world.” As Christ followers, we know we are citizens of another world – the kingdom of God, and there are many things we can be sure of. Easter points us to the reason we can be sure – the resurrection.
Let’s look at two passages that share observations and blessings from the resurrection.
Let’s first look at Paul’s first letter to believers in Corinth.
Now I want you to understand, brothers and sisters, the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you—unless you have come to believe in vain. For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures and that he was buried and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. (1 Corinthians 15:1-5 NRSV)
There are some important things to note in this passage:
- The resurrection is good news. I believe we wholeheartedly agree with this because it is our hope.
- The resurrection is the truth we are to stand on. If Jesus wasn’t resurrected, we have nothing; our faith is vain and futile (see 1 Corinthians 15:12-19 NRSV). We stand on the resurrection because it is the certainty of our salvation. Earlier in Corinthians, Paul declares that all he resolves to know and preach is Christ and him crucified. He is reiterating that all humanity was effectively saved when Jesus spilled his blood and died. Paul is now bringing in the resurrection, speaking to the expanse and fullness of Jesus’ vicarious saving of humanity.
- It is through the resurrection that we are being saved. This good news is a constant reminder of our salvation. “Being saved” speaks to sanctification and our continued formation into the image and likeness of Jesus. Paul hints about this when he refers to us being transformed “from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
- Paul refers to the resurrection as “of first importance.” Can you think of something more important than the truth that Jesus rose from the grave? It’s what we base our faith on. It’s what we base our hope on. It’s what inspires, compels, and motivates us. Death didn’t defeat him. The grave couldn’t hold him.
- The resurrection was “in accordance with the scriptures.” The resurrection was prophesied in the Old Testament and in Jesus’ own words. (See Psalm 16:10, Psalm 22:16-24, Isaiah 53, John 2:19-22, John 10:17-18, Matthew 16:21, Mark 8:31, Mark 9:9-10.) Do a study on how Jesus fulfilled prophecy. You will come to see how God’s plan has always been Jesus, and how the Old Testament continually pointed to him. He is the fulfillment of the law and the prophets (Matthew 5:17).
Questions for reflection:
- What does the phrase, “of first importance,” mean to you?
- What does it mean to you to stand on the truth of the resurrection?
- What are some other prophecies you think of that pertain to the resurrection?
Let’s also look at a few gems from the apostle Peter.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Although you have not seen him, you love him, and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:3-9 NRSV)
Notice the blessings Jesus’ resurrection gives us:
- A new birth into a living hope
- An imperishable inheritance
- Protection by the power of God
- Salvation to be revealed in the last time
- A reason to rejoice
- The outcome of our faith, the salvation of our souls
There are many other passages that help us see the significance of Easter. You may want to read John 11:25-26, Romans 6:5-6, Romans 8, Romans 14:8-9, 1 Corinthians 15:50-58, 1 Thessalonians 4:14, Hebrews 13:20-21.
Questions for reflection:
- Which blessing listed above jumps out at you? Why?
- Which blessing do you feel the least? Take that blessing to God and ask him to reveal it to you more personally.
Easter is a season of rejoicing. We rejoice because we know Jesus defeated the greatest enemy – death. This is why we joyfully proclaim, “He is Risen,” to which others might proclaim, “He is Risen indeed!” This proclamation is our testimony that we believe Jesus died for us, was raised for us, and took us with him as he ascended to the Father.
Want to be even more inspired during Passion Week or around Easter? Read or listen to Pastor Dr. S.M. Lockridge’s sermon, “That’s My King!” Celebrate that Jesus is who he is.
Let us joyfully celebrate the blessings of the resurrection. He is Risen!
Rick Shallenberger, editor.