April 8, 2007
Why Jesus Rose From the Dead
Jesus died on Friday. He was laid in a borrowed tomb. The entrance was sealed with a massive stone. It was over. His life finished. His time on earth spent. The party ended.
We peer into the empty tomb, from a perspective of knowledge, history, and tradition, 2,000 years removed. Not so with the Mary, Peter, and John. Read closely John 20:9: “For they still did not understand the Scripture that he must rise from the dead” (John 20:9). They did not understand. Often, neither do we.
Jesus had to rise from the dead? Had to? Yes, had to! Why?
Jesus had to rise from the dead to break the bonds of death.
Funerals are held for people who die. Funerals are sad events. As a pastor I have stood at countless grave openings where caskets with human remains have been lowered into the ground. If that act marked the end of life, how hollow would be the words I speak, the scriptures I read, the prayers I pray. For those who believe that God raised Jesus from the dead – like John on that first Easter morning – the funeral, though sad, reminds us of the hope we have in Jesus Christ.
Jesus broke the bonds of death on resurrection morning.
Robert Hughes tells of his father, a coal miner in the northeastern hills of Pennsylvania. He had a precarious job to check the mine for methane gas before the rest of the men entered the bowels of the mine. Each morning he took his safety light and descended alone into the mine. Every tunnel and shaft would be checked to make sure that no deadly methane gas was present. If the safety lamp’s light flickered, he would run as fast as he could because an explosion might happen due to the presence of that gas. After checking the mine, he would walk up to the surface and the miners would gather around expectantly waiting for him to announce, “It’s ok, it’s safe; you can now go down into the mine.”
That’s what Christ has done for us. Coming up out of the depths of death, He has announced to all who are gathered here in this life on earth: “It’s safe; it’s ok. You can enter into death, into the darkness and the unknown.”
Jesus had to rise from the dead to give us victory over death.
Because Jesus rose from the dead we are given victory over death, our final enemy. The empty tomb declares the hope we have in Jesus. Jesus’ victory over the grave empowers the believer to face the uncertainties of life with confidence. And perhaps the biggest uncertainty is death. The very thought of death creates a lot of fear – and next to speaking in public, facing death is the number one phobia in people today.
But knowing the outcome calms our fears. Those who believe that God raised Jesus from the dead know how the game ends. We win. The resurrection of Jesus Christ takes the unknown out of death. The hope of the believer in Jesus Christ is that death is no longer a giant to fear.
Jesus had to rise from the dead to give us new life in the face of death.
The reality is that people around Jesus were all changed because of the resurrection. Mary’s tears of heartbreak turned to speechless celebration because of the resurrection. Peter, John, and the other disciples, once fearing for their lives as they huddled in the locked room, are transformed because of the resurrection. Thousands began to believe, and then millions, because of the resurrection. In time, over the last 2,000 years, entire governments, cultures, and educational processes have been changed because of the resurrection.
Spiritually, because of the resurrection our sins are forgiven, our life is renewed, our hope is permanent, and our eternity is secured. We are given a new start, a new life, and a new tomorrow. (Rick Ezell)