Our pastoral staff has been debating what to do for the upcoming Easter service, in light of the nationwide Coronavirus shutdown. One thing we know—Sunday will be the strangest Easter any of us have ever seen, as we celebrate that holy day, mostly isolated in our homes. And, though the world hopes the circumstances this Easter will never be repeated—it remains that the message of this Easter has never been more needed.
Christians world-wide celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the Sunday following Palm Sunday, designated, “Easter.” It was during this week of Jewish Passover almost 2,000 years ago that Jesus was crucified in Jerusalem. When they were accusing Him, the High Priest and Sanhedrin Court could not enter the Roman court for fear they would be ritually defiled. John wrote about the Jewish religious leaders: “they themselves did not enter into the Praetorium so that they would not be defiled, but might eat the Passover” (John 18:28). It is ironic that they rejected the true Passover (1 Cor. 5:7), so they could partake of His picture.
John recorded that Jesus was crucified on “the day of preparation for the Passover” (John 19:14). This was also the reason His accusers wanted His body off the cross, into a tomb before sunset, “because it was the day of preparation, so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day)” (John 19:31). Passover was considered a high Sabbath, and dead bodies on crosses would desecrate that holy day.
Palm Sunday was important, the crucifixion was vital, but, thank God—the resurrection was essential! Jesus, crucified and buried, was raised the Sunday after Passover.
“He is not here, but is risen” (Luke 24:6), was spoken by angels standing at the tomb where Christ’s body once laid. Think of that statement: “Not here…but risen!” The words stimulate our thinking and alter our eternity: He Is—Not Here—But Risen!
So, what does Christ’s resurrection 2,000 years ago mean today?
- His resurrection means believers in Christ will have life after death.
Because of Christ’s victory over death, every believer has the same promise of life after death. Paul wrote, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you” (Rom. 8:11). Paul told the Corinthians: “He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you” (2 Corinthians 4:14). Believers in Christ have hope because of Christ’s resurrection. Jesus told Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die” (John 11:25-26).
- His resurrection means believers in Christ may have hope in this life.
Many times things go wrong in this life and tragedy comes to steal our hope. But Christ’s resurrection means things, though tragic, are never hopeless. Peter reminded the persecuted Christians of his day that God “has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). Because Christ is a resurrected, living Savior, we have an overcoming, life-giving hope.
- His resurrection means believers in Christ are justified in God’s sight.
Though we are all sinners by nature and practice, every believer in Christ will stand justified in God’s sight. They are “justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24). It is a wonderful truth that when Christ arose from the dead, He assured our justification because He was “delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised again for our justification” (Rom. 4:25). Amazing! He was crucified for sins—He was raised for justification.
- His resurrection means the sins of all believers in Christ are forgiven.
God promises full forgiveness of sins to every person who trusts in Jesus. Peter said, “through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses” (Acts 13:38-39). However, if Christ had not been raised from the dead, our sins could not be forgiven, as Paul wrote, “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished” (1 Cor. 15:17-18).
- His resurrection means every person will give account to God.
Unbelieving skeptics may think: “That sounds good, but does not apply to me.” However, the consequence of Christ’s resurrection applies to everyone. When Paul preached to unbelievers on Mars’ Hill, he said, “God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30, 31). Because Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose again, all people will give account to God.
Because of Christ’s resurrection any person can have life, hope, justification, and forgiveness of sins. Because of Christ’s resurrection every person is accountable to God. Aren’t you glad “He is not here, but is risen”? Trust Him as your Savior, rejoice in His resurrection, and share this message of hope with others. The best news the world has ever heard came from a cemetery in Jerusalem!