What the Resurrection Means
Ever since our class on 1 Corinthians 15, I can’t stop thinking about the resurrection. This colossal doctrine is so formative for our discipleship in Christ. The great summons at the end of chapter 15 tells us “Therefore be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15.58) In light of the resurrection – namely, that death doesn’t have the final word and Jesus has claimed the victory – we have assurance that what we do matters. That our work and effort and love and good deeds will ultimately last, because death isn’t the end.
Some really struggle with skepticism over it all. Can the resurrection really have happened, we ask. Or some are skeptical over the nature of the resurrection. Will we really have renewed bodies empowered by the Holy Spirit, wonder some. It might be some comfort to know that the original disciples in the Bible had their doubts, too (see Matthew 28.17; John 20.25).
No matter which brand of doubt we possess, the way I like to think of it is: Is it harder to believe it happened or that they made it all up? Some moderns might nonchalantly think of course they made it up. Not so fast. It’s not entirely obvious to me that anyone would’ve thought to make it up or to present the story in the way they did. If your agenda is to convince people to join your new cult, you don’t suggest a resurrection entirely out of keeping with what the majority religious group (Pharisees) thought would happen at the time (a single person preceding a general resurrection of all at the end of the age), possessing an idea most in the majority Greek culture would’ve found abhorrent (spirit returning to a renewed body), where the first witnesses to this event are women (whose testimony was not admissible as evidence in court), where many of the disciples doubted it all to begin with – even while staring the Risen Jesus in the face, and in the flesh!
No one would make this up.
Anyway – what does the resurrection mean though? I want to submit some thoughts for you to ponder this week.
The resurrection means:
We have a savior who can never die again. “We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again” (Romans 6.9).
We’re granted repentance. “The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel” (Acts 5.30-31).
We’re granted new birth. “By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1.3).
We have the Holy Spirit. “This Jesus God raised up, and of that we are all witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right and of God, and having received from the father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this which you see and hear” (Acts 2.32-33).
No condemnation for Christians. “Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God” (Romans 8.34).
Jesus’ personal fellowship. “I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Matthew 28.20).
Proof of coming judgment. “God has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man who he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all men by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17.31).
Salvation from God’s wrath. “We wait for his son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1.10).
Our own resurrection. “We know that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus...” (2 Corinthians 4.14).