Last Sunday we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Doesn’t it bring you joy to know that this Sunday He is still risen?
Our faith is founded on the firm evidence of the historical and literal resurrection of Jesus. In 1 Corinthians 15, the Apostle Paul writes that our risen Lord was seen by Peter, then the rest of the Twelve Apostles (minus Judas of course). Then He was seen by more than 500 believers at one time (so that they could verify each others’ eyewitness accounts). Paul goes on to say that most of these witnesses are still alive (he wrote this about 25 years after the resurrection), so that they could be asked for their testimony. Then He was seen by James (Jesus’ half brother; see below), and by some of the other church leaders. Finally, Paul saw the resurrected Jesus on the road to Damascus (see Acts 9).
Paul says the truth of the literal, historical, bodily resurrection of Jesus is so significant that if Jesus did not raise from the dead we need to forsake our faith!
“And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17).
Within weeks after Jesus’ resurrection huge changes began to happen. Here are a few examples:
- Peter Went from a Denier to Defender. At the time when Jesus needed his support, Peter denied Him three times. But after the arrival of the Holy Spirit, Peter boldly proclaimed and defended the veracity of the resurrection (see Acts 2).
- Jesus’ Brothers Were Transformed From Unbelievers To Believers. We read in Scripture that Jesus had four half-brothers and at least two half-sisters (see Mark 6:3). Although they were raised in the same home with Jesus, they didn’t believe He was the Messiah, the Son of God, until He raised from the dead. James became the leader of the Jerusalem church and both he and his brother, Jude, wrote New Testament books (James and Jude).
- Paul Was Transformed from Persecutor to Preacher. Paul was so sure Jesus-followers were frauds that he went out of his way to arrest, persecute, and see to the execution to those who dared to follow Jesus…that is until Paul met our Risen Lord on the road to Damascus. Paul’s transformation was so phenomenal that he became the most influential church leader in history.
Throughout these past 2,000 years billions have been convinced of the truth of Jesus’ resurrection and have literally changed the world through the loving message of the Gospel. Here are three former atheists who became convinced of the truth of the resurrection and went on to write best-selling books presenting the evidence they had discovered:
- C. S. Lewiswas transformed from atheist to believer and wrote Mere Christianity as a defense of the truth of Christianity.
- Josh McDowellgrew up in horrible abuse leading him to disbelieve in God. But as he examined the evidence he was convinced of Christianity’s claim and wrote two hugely influential books: Evidence that Demands a Verdict and More Than a Carpenter.
- Lee Strobel,the celebrated investigative reporter for the Chicago Tribune, was so convinced by the evidence for our faith that he forsook his atheism and wrote: The Case for Christ.
WHY DOES THE RESURRECTION MATTER TO YOU? Because the resurrection of Jesus:
- Gives You Eternal Life.
1 Peter 1:3a (NLT) All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead.
- Defeats Death.
Romans 6:9 (ESV) We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.
- Proves Jesus to be God’s Eternal Son.
Romans 1:4 (NLT) and he was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord.
- Offers Intimacy with God.
Philippians 3:10a (ESV) that I may know him and the power of his resurrection
- Provides Power for Living.
Ephesians 1:19–20a (NLT) I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead
- Brings Abundant Blessings.
Acts 4:33 (NLT) The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all.
These Blessings Are Incredibly Relevant To Your Life Here And Now. Because of the resurrection:
> We can love people unconditionally.
> We can experience indescribable joy even in the most unexpected circumstances.
> We can know a peace that defies explanation.
> We have power for victorious living.
> We can both receive and give forgiveness.
> We have strength to endure any difficulty.
> We have a purpose that is above and beyond ourselves.
> We can find genuine fulfillment in the depth of our soul.
> And we have a confident hope for the future…all because He lives!
Our own Indiana native, Bill Gaither, wrote the words to the famous song that sums it up: “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow; because He lives, all fear is gone; because I know He holds the future, and life is worth the living, just because He lives!”
DO YOU KNOW HIM? HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED HIS RESURRECTION?
Onward with my resurrected Lord,