Luke 24:1-7 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. 5 And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.”
Seems strange that the women who had followed the Lord Jesus so long were “perplexed” at not finding the body in the tomb on that first Easter morning. At least three times Jesus had told his disciples that he would be taken and crucified and would rise on the third day. (Matthew 16:21, 17:22-23, 20:17-19) Each time he had positively said that he would rise on the third day. Did they not hear? Did they not understand? Or did they not believe.
Sometimes we hear words that are just too hard to take in. When Peter heard Jesus tell of his coming suffering Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke him, saying “Far be it from you, Lord.” That caused Jesus to say to Peter, “Get behind me Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” Matthew 16:22-23.
When we receive such a devastating message we might respond much as Peter did. Some variation on, “This can’t be happening.”
The angels had understood what was going to happen but I am not sure they understood the human response. They said, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” Later perhaps these same two angels stood beside the disciples and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11). On the road to Emmaus Jesus had confronted two disciples and he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” (Luke 24:25, 26).
It was necessary on our behalf because Christ’s resurrection insures our regeneration. Many years later Peter would write, “we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). He explicitly connects Jesus’ resurrection with our regeneration or new birth. When Jesus rose from the dead the result for him was a new quality of life. That was “resurrection life” in a human body and a human spirit that is perfectly suited for fellowship with and obedience to God forever.
In his resurrection, Jesus earned for us a new life just like his. We do not receive all of that new “resurrection life” when we become Christians, for our bodies remain as they were, still subject to weakness, aging, and death. But in our spirits we are made alive with new resurrection power. It is through the power of his resurrection that Jesus Christ earned for us the new kind of life we receive when we are “born again.”
Remember, Jesus had told Nicodemus, “unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3). It is not possible for us to deliver ourselves by our own strength. Sin drags us down. As Paul wrote the Corinthian church, The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:56, 57). Let’s call again on Peter (who said), “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (1 Peter2:24-25). The work of Jesus on the cross is effective for all who will come to him. He carried our sins to the cross. Paul wrote to the Colossians you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3).
Paul assures us that having died with him it is necessary that we also be raised with him. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, (Ephesians 2:4-6). Note: Ephesians 4:6, God raised us up with him AND SEATED US WITH HIM IN THE HEAVENLY PLACES IN CHRIST JESUS. In the mind of our eternal Father these actions or events occurred in the past. If we are saved, and only God knows we are seated with him NOW!
Since that is true the power of his death on the cross sets us free from the fear of death (Hebrews 2:14-15). It was through the power of his resurrection that Jesus Christ earned for us the new kind of life we receive when we are “born again.” This is why Paul can say that God “made us alive together with Christ -- by grace you have been saved -- and raised us up with him” (Ephesians 2:5–6, see also, Colossian 3:1). When God raised Christ from the dead he thought of us as somehow being raised “with Christ” and therefore deserving of the merits of Christ’s resurrection. Paul’s goal in life was “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection …” (Philippians. 3:10). Paul knew that even in this life the resurrection of Christ gave new power for Christian ministry and obedience to God. We can see the power of the resurrection described as being at work in us in Romans chapter six. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:6-11).
Paul clearly sees us as raised with Christ. This new resurrection power in us includes power to gain more and more victory over the remaining sin in our lives— Paul’s assurance was “sin will have no dominion over you” (Romans 6:14)—even though we will never be perfect in this life. This resurrection power also includes power for ministry in the work of the kingdom. It was after Jesus’ resurrection that he promised his disciples, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). This new, intensified power for proclaiming the gospel and working miracles and triumphing over the opposition of the enemy was given to the disciples after Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and was part of the new resurrection power that characterized their Christian lives.
And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:8-11). He was obedient unto death for us. His death, burial and resurrection insures our justification.
Wait, what does that mean? We run into these words throughout the Bible without definition. Wayne Grudem gives us the following definition of justification: “Justification is an instantaneous legal act of God in which he (1) thinks of our sins as forgiven and Christ’s righteousness as belonging to us, and (2) declares us to be righteous in his sight.” Systematic Theology, p. 723.
If God forgave us without declaring us to be righteous we would have been brought to the place Adam and Eve were before they sinned. We would still have been subject to the guilt of sin. Justification sets us free from the bondage of sin. The power of his resurrection not only covers our sin but also declares us “not guilty” in God’s eyes. We are no longer subject to condemnation. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:17-19)
Christ’s resurrection insures our perfect resurrection bodies. When we read the accounts following Jesus’ resurrection most of his close disciples did not recognize him. I believe that is because of the perfection of his resurrection body. Remember, most of the early encounters are with people who last saw him beaten, bloody and/or dead. These things are hard for any of us to grasp. It may be that a person was raised in a family, or church that believes it is not possible to know for sure one is saved. Take John’s words to heart written near the end of his gospel, these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. Don’t be deceived, be careful, salvation does not come because you read a few verses, often unconnected, and say a few words called “The Sinners Prayer”. Anyone who comes to Jesus for salvation must understand the basics. All people have sinned and are separated from God from their birth. The cost of that truth is spiritual death. Jesus died to cover that penalty.
There must also be an invitation by the Holy Spirit for a personal response on the part of the individual who will repent of his or her sins and trust in Christ. He himself described the call in Matthew’s gospel, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30).
Come to Jesus! The promise is available for all who truly believe. Every person who has come to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, will be saved by JESUS’ work on the cross. As a result we will be raised with the same power that raised Jesus (1 Corinthians 6:14) And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. The power of the Spirit has brought us into God’s presence (2 Corinthians 4:13-15) Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, 14 knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. 15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
Paul assured them (and us) that God sees us as already in his presence, But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-7)
Our resurrection body will be imperishable 1 Corinthians 15:53-55, For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
The fact that our new bodies will be “imperishable” means that they will not wear out or grow old or ever be subject to any kind of sickness or disease. They will be completely healthy and strong forever. Moreover, since the gradual process of aging is part of the process by which our bodies now are subject to “corruption,” it is appropriate to think that our resurrection bodies will have no sign of aging, but will have the characteristics of youthful but mature manhood or womanhood forever.
When a person responds to the call of God and recognizes that all have sinned. Remembering that the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ. That person will be able to confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised him from the dead and be saved. That is what Easter is all about.
All scripture quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2016. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.