“And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. 6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. 7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you” (Matt. 28:5-7).
In many grave yards around the world there are beautiful tombstones memorializing a loved one, or a great person. The Taj Mahal on the southern bank of the Yamuna River in Agra, India, is an enormous mausoleum commissioned in 1632 by the Mughai emperor Shah Jahan to be a final resting place for his beloved wife. People want to remember, and show their respect for those who have passed on. Some of the grave sites are ornated with marble, silver, and even gold.
In contrast, the grave site of Jesus Christ is not marked in silver or gold. It is marked with language which is opposite to all other tombs marked with a date of death for the angel said to the women who came to anoint the body of their Lord, “He is not here: for He is risen.” This is without question the most important event in human history.
The apostle Paul said, “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:17).
When the early Christians witnessed to the world, the central theme of their message was that Jesus Christ, who had been crucified, was risen from the dead. This belief sustained the Christians through terrible periods of persecution and suffering. It helped believers face death without flinching for their hope in eternal life, and their own resurrection from the dead.
The resurrection was a constant theme in the conversation of the early Christians, along with the importance of the Cross. The modern generation has reduced sermons on the resurrection to Easter. That is unfortunate, for the subject is worthy of constant attention.
If there is no resurrection, then the Cross was a tragedy, and the darkness of the world remains intact. Where there is no hope, there is despair. Life becomes meaningless. If there is no resurrection, then Christianity is a myth, and the life of Christ a grand fable. Millions are the victims of a gigantic host crueller than any Ponzi scheme. It is bad enough to rob people of their money, it is far worse to rob people of faith.
However, the good news is that the New Testament teaches from Matthew to Revelation that Jesus is risen from the dead. The resurrection is not a hoax. The faith of Christians is valid. The hope for a better tomorrow is not misplaced. There is meaning and purpose to life, which is to know God, and enjoy Him forever through His appointed means of salvation, faith in Jesus Christ as personal Savior.
Normally, when thinking about the resurrection, attention is paid to the sufferings of Christ which put Him in the grave. That is only proper, since the death of deaths in the death of Christ was what made the resurrection necessary. Then, special attention is paid to the seven sayings of Christ from the cross.
While on the Cross, Jesus spoke to His Father. “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
Then, Jesus spoke to a dying thief. “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).
When Mary passed, by the foot of the cross, Jesus said to His mother, “Woman, behold thy son!” (John 19:26), and committed her to the disciple, John (John 19:27).
As the hours passed, the agony of Jesus increased, to the point He cried out in anguish, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46).
More time passed, and Jesus gasped, “I thirst” (John 19:28).
The end was near. When Jesus had received the wine, He said, “It is finished” (John 19:30).
Then, with a loud voice Jesus cried out, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46).
With that, all the demons in the universe trembled and shrieked, for the great work of redemption had been accomplished. Satan and his followers had tried to keep Jesus from the Cross, and from accomplishing the salvation of souls. But they had failed. Even death could not keep its prey.
“Up from the grave he arose;
with a mighty triumph o’er his foes;
He arose a victor from the dark domain,
and He lives forever, with his saints to reign.
He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!”
Following His resurrection, the Church was able to refocus attention on a collection of new sayings of Jesus, not from the Cross, but from His crowned presence in the midst of His people. Jesus is risen! He is not on the Cross, and He is not in the grave. Jesus is in His Church. Listen then, to what the risen Lord has said to His Church.
After His resurrection, Jesus appeared on thirteen separate occasions, to a variety of people in various places. Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene as a gardener (Mark 16:9-11). He appeared to two disciples on the Road to Emmaus. Jesus met with the disciples in the Upper Room. Everyone was present except Judas, and Thomas. On one occasion, Jesus appeared to five hundred of His followers. These were blessed and glorious appearances of the resurrected Christ.
When Jesus appeared to His people, He had something to say to them.
First, Jesus said, “Fear not.” This is a message that our generation needs to hear from the resurrected Jesus today. Many people are afraid. Young people have been taught to fear the future, by irresponsible leaders telling them the world is going to end in twelve years unless mankind learns how to change the climate. It is sheer foolishness to think that humans can change the climate, but many are convinced, to the point that millions have no hope of a future.
In the Church, sensational preachers and writers have also caused people to be frightened, by teaching about the signs of the time, and Armageddon. Those living in the 1980’s were told they were the terminal generation.
To those whose hearts are fearful due to an uncertain future, sickness, or financial setback, the calming voice of Jesus says, “Fear not.” Jesus explained to John why He does not want His disciples to fear anything, or anyone. Jesus said, “I am the first and the last: 18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death” (Rev. 1:17, 18).
In as far as the Christian firmly believes that Jesus is very God of very God, that He is alive, and that He has power over hell and death, and that He loves us to the end, fear will take wings and fly away. “Fear not,” said Jesus.
In the absence of fear, there can be peace. Jesus said, “Peace be unto you” (Luke 24:36). Jesus has promised peace to His disciples. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). The peace which Jesus gives is the calm assurance that “I am His, and He is mine. And His banner over me is love.” Those who do not doubt the love of God, and the love of Christ, will have peace, not as the world gives, but a lasting peace.
“I rest beneath the Almighty’s shade,
My griefs expire, my troubles cease;
Thou, Lord, on whom my soul is stayed,
Wilt keep me still in perfect peace.”
“The peace that Jesus gives is not the absence of trouble, but is rather the confidence that He is there with you always” (Unknown).
David Livingstone spoke at Glasgow University in Scotland. When he rose to speak, he bore in his body the marks of suffering from his many struggles in Africa with malaria and other diseases. His left arm had been crushed by a lion. As he spoke, he asked the audience if they would like to know what sustained him through all the years in a hostile country and harsh environment. It was this. “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”
While the resurrected Christ did not want His disciples to be afraid, He did want them to bear witness. Jesus said, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matt. 28:19, 20). Luke records the final words of Jesus.
Jesus said, “Ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:7). Jesus still says to His disciples, “As the Father has sent me into the world, so send I you” (John 17:18). Every Christian has work to do, and that is to bear witness for Christ. We must obey.
Jesus sent His disciples out from behind the safety and security of locked doors, to go into all the world to proclaim His death, burial, and resurrection. It is a task, not for the faith of heart. It is a work that involves a Cross, a dying to self in order to live forever.
In order to evangelize effectively, without fear, and with peace in the heart, Jesus said, “Receive power.” Jesus said, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judæa, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:7).
Resurrection power is needed to be an effective witness of the gospel. This power must be received. Spiritual power cannot be commanded. It cannot be conjured up. It cannot be demanded. It must be waited on, and received from God.
But here is the good news. “You shall receive power,” said Jesus. It is His promise.
Of course, there is a presuppositional provision that undergirds this promise, which includes holiness of life, prayerful waiting, and an honest expectation.
Power did come to the early Christians, as the book of Acts makes clear. The story of how the Church turned the world upside down is recorded.
It is possible the same could happen again, if Christians took seriously the words of Jesus to stop being afraid, to live in peace, and to wait expectantly for power from on high. The lack of spiritual success in evangelism is found in the fact that we often use the wrong kind of weapon. We are using gimmicks and gadgets, techniques, and wrong teachings, to attract people to the gospel. We are using our own human strength, when we need power from on high.
The great need of the Church is not money, better organization, or more programs. The greatest need of the Church is the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and to go out and proclaim the gospel everywhere.
The two symbols of Pentecost was wind and fire, not balloons and billboards. There is a mystical and super natural work of the Holy Spirit in revival. The word revival means to recover, to restore, to reclaim what has been lost. Revival is a stirring up, a rekindling of passion. Then we will speak again with resurrection power burning in our hearts.