1Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. 5But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” 8So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. 10Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” [Matthew 28:1-10 (ESV)]
Jesus is risen, as He said. These words bring joy to the ear this morning. These we cannot pass over. He is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia!
The joy of those women who heard the words of God’s messenger that morning and saw not our Lord in the tomb is also our own. By God’s inspired Word, we know that our Redeemer lives. Christ is victorious over the grave. He who had authority to lay down His life also had authority to take it up again (John 10: 15, 17, 18). This Jesus did on the Third day, the very day that He rose bodily from the dead.
We are not here speaking of some spirit who now lives, as if the body of Christ remained in decay. Christ in His body is living. Neither are we speaking of an event without significance. As it is written, If Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 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. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. (1 Corinthians 15:14-17).
Sin is real. It is doing what God does not command and not doing what He does command. Death too is real. It is a consequence of sin. Sin brings about physical death, of which we all must face, sooner or later. It also brings about eternal death, unless there be salvation from another who has overcome death. This is what Christ did by His resurrection. His resurrection testifies to the truth that death is powerless against the Lord Christ. So too is eternal death powerless against the Lord’s brethren, of whom we are, through faith in His blessed Word.
Now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:20-22)
The death of Christ was real. On the cross Jesus did die. His resurrection is just as real and true. This is how we know that Jesus truly keeps His Word. Believe not this, and faith will be lacking.
The Lord’s resurrection also means our resurrection. Christ being raised from the dead means our rising from the dead, not only from the deadness of our sin to new life now by faith, but also when our Lord returns. His resurrection means the same for us.
Christ says through the Apostle Paul, The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)
In another place, Paul writes, We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed — in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. (1 Corinthians 15:51-53).
Jesus Himself says, The hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth — those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation (John 5:28-29).
Here, our Lord makes distinction. Scripture teaches that all will rise from the dead, both believers in Christ and nonbelievers. But only those who have done good, only those who have faith in Christ’s goodness, forsaking their own, only these will be with the Father unto all eternity.
On the other hand, those who have done evil, those who do evil by not taking Christ’s Word and work as their own, these will rise to eternal death. Having not believed the promises of the Lord while in the world, these receive the due reward of their unbelief. But those who do believe the promises of God, though they not see them fulfilled in the now time, these Will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him (James 1:12).
As to the spiritual rising only, Jesus ate and drank after being raised. As it is reported in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, “Peace to you.” But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? “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.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, “Have you any food here?” So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb. And He took it and ate in their presence. (Luke 24:36-43)
A spirit does not eat or drink. But this Jesus did. The eyes don’t tell the whole story. When it comes to God and His Word, do not accept what your mind tells you. Leave reason and human understanding aside. If you don’t, you will not rightly believe what God truly declares to be so. From the virgin birth to His bodily resurrection, and from the creation of the world to the Lord’s glorious return on judgement day, trust not what you think or what you believe to be so. Trust in the Lord and in what He has said. Only here will you find Jesus living and dying, and rising and ascending, for you.
Here is the difference between judgement and forgiveness, death and life, and hell and heaven. What God declares to be so in His Word is for your salvation. It is not just for anyone and everyone. It is for you. Believing that the Bible is true is a good thing. Believing that there is a god is good thing. But ‘a god’ doesn’t save. The God of salvation is not unknowable. Unless the God of Scripture, even Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is your God, all the believing in the world will not help you. Christ did die and He did rise from the dead. But His death and resurrection will not save you unless it is also yours.
You carry your sin no more. It was crucified with Christ. He died and rose again. Jesus left your sin for dead on Mt. Calvary, but on the third day, His body was not in the tomb. If you wish to carry your own sin and have it your way, Christ’s death and resurrection will profit you none. You will bear your own load and come the judgment, the penalty for your sin will be yours and yours alone.
On Christ, your sin is gone forever and God does not count your daily sins against you. In Christ, your sin is forgiven. Lay your sins on Him, therefore, and receive His forgiveness. Believe the heavenly Word of grace, mercy, and peace. Through the death of His Son, God demonstrated these. Through resurrection does Christ testify of them.
Our Lord does not lie. Nor will He speak deception into your ears. What He says will come to pass. This was so before His death and His coming back to life, and this is so now. Christ’s resurrection bears witness and sure testimony that His Word He will fulfill. Though we see the fulfillment, this matters none.
Just as Christ had said, He rose from the dead. Before that Friday that we call Good, Jesus declared to His disciples, Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again (Matthew 20:18-19). A few other times, too, did Jesus speak of what would soon come to pass. And it did.
Jesus Christ, alive from the dead forevermore, is our surety and guarantee of what is to come, not only later, but even now, as we hear Christ’s Word preached, eat and drink His body and blood, and receive His blessing. For your good does our Lord speak and for your good does our Lord give. The joy of His gifts are yours. Christ is risen, just as He said. Our Redeemer lives. Jesus Christ is risen today. Alleluia! Amen.