RESURRECTION OF JESUS

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The resurrection of Christ is that one key element that puts together the divinity of Jesus, his sinlessness and the reality of the salvation that he brought to all men. If the resurrection did not take place, much of Christian theology would fall flat on its face.

Did the resurrection take place? The most important document we have that describes the resurrection is the New Testament. The reliability of the NT as a historical document is a well-accepted fact among historians. In fact the manuscript evidence to attest to the authenticity of the NT far exceeds any other ancient document. If man can believe in the story of Caesar, (and Cleopatra and the Roman empire and so on), there are hundred more reasons to believe in the story of the NT. Guards watched the tomb where Jesus was laid. An angel rolled back the stone that would not have been ordinarily possible to move back. The empty tomb was seen by many, including the guards. All that would have been required to disprove the resurrection of Christ would have been to produce the body of Christ- by no means an impossible fact considering the fact that hostile Jews and Romans were in authority. And in that hostile culture, the story of the resurrection came to be known as real because there are practically no documents from that era that repudiate the reality of the resurrection. Jesus also appeared to more than 500 witnesses after the resurrection, many of whom became the torch-bearers of the gospel, giving their life for what they knew was true and not a concocted story.

The resurrection body of Christ was remarkable and different from the body of the physical Christ who went to the Cross. There were physical elements to the body- he could eat, his wounds could be touched by the doubting disciples, he walked with them and women who worshipped him could clasp his feet. Yet, he also appeared and disappeared at will and closed doors did not seem to limit his movement. His appearance was not readily recognizable, yet everyone who encountered him and interacted with him recognized him and worshipped him. Does this symbolize the body that we will have at resurrection? In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul tells us that the resurrection body will be imperishable, glorious, powerful and a spiritual body. God gives to each a body he has determined and just as we bear resemblance to the Adamic body, our resurrection bodies will bear the likeness of the man from heaven.

What message does Easter hold for us? We see a resurrected Jesus who having completed his saving work on this earth declares to us the reassuring words, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Mat 28:18). The spiritual dynamic of a world in bondage to sin was altered forever by the sacrificial lamb, who took away man’s sin.

Forgiveness of sin became a reality after the resurrection. “—–repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations” (Luke 24:47).

Death, being inevitably linked to sin, was defeated by the act of the One who could not die, descending into the grave. “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” ask the angels in the tomb to the women. (Luke 24:5). No longer would life be defined by the death that erased all things. Rather, the reality of resurrection and life would make man’s life meaningful and satisfying.

“You are witnesses, make disciples of all nations” (Luke 23:48; Mat 28:19). A calling higher than anything that physical life here on earth can offer is given to man by the resurrected Jesus as he invites us to participate in the great commission of bringing men and women lost in darkness and sin to light and repentance- a calling that has eternal reward and that brings life to the highest point of satisfaction and joy.

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