Jesus’s resurrection is the reason we celebrate Easter
Easter is here in just a few days, but Jesus’s resurrection is hopefully not an event we remember only once a year.
As I’ve been pondering what Easter is all about over the last few weeks, I keep coming back to the resurrection and why it’s so important.
During most of the year, many Christians focus on Jesus’s death on the cross as the most significant thing Jesus did for our salvation.
And then at Easter time, they talk about the fact that Jesus is risen. Then, a week or so after Easter, they go back to talking mostly about Jesus’s crucifixion.
But frankly, I think we need to focus more on the resurrection all year long. If Jesus had not been victorious over death through his resurrection, there would not be much if anything to celebrate.
Jesus’s resurrection is more important
That may sound pretty strong for someone who thinks the only thing that saves us from our sins is Jesus’s death on the cross. But without the resurrection, the crucifixion is the end of the story, and there is no victory over sin and death. Paul makes this very point:
But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.
More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.
And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 1 Corinthians 15:12-17 NIV
Could Paul make it any clearer than that?
Jesus’s resurrection gives value to his crucifixion
The resurrection is what gives value to the crucifixion. The crucifixion, in and of itself, does not take away the sins of the world. Only through his resurrection, his victory over death and the grave, did Jesus defeat the hold sin had on the world.
I repeat what Paul says, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.”
It is not Jesus’s death on the cross that takes away our sins. It is his victory over death that takes away our sins.
So, let’s talk about the resurrection and how it applies to you and me.
When Jesus emerged from the tomb that bright morning almost 2,000 years ago, it proved that the world, and its material, sinful ways had no ultimate power or authority over Christ. All the evils of the world, all the sin and self-centered rejection of God and His Christ, poured out on Jesus, could not prevent Jesus from being victorious.
His victory gives us the victory as well.
Jesus’s resurrection is also our resurrection
What do I mean by that? Jesus broke the hold that death had on the world.
Paul writes to the church in Corinth,
But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 1 Corinthians 15:20 NIV
This indicates that Jesus has set the stage for future victories over death. Our victory over death. Each of us.
Jesus’s resurrection forced his immediate disciples, despite their doubt, to admit that such an event was possible.
You could say it was the first step toward their own resurrection, certainly a resurrection of their thinking to a more spiritual perspective, from fear and doubt to hope, joy, and a whole new sense of what is possible.
Of course, it’s easy to hear and say the words, “…with God, all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26 )
What if you had been in that room?
But if you had been one of the ten or eleven disciples standing there when Jesus appeared in the room with you, even though the doors were locked, it would give you a whole new dimension to what the phrase, “with God, all things are possible,” could mean.
When they saw the resurrected Jesus, they experienced, to some small degree, a resurrection of their own, a resurrection of their faith, their hope, their joy, and what the future could bring.
Jesus’s resurrection had a big impact on his disciples
Let’s look at some examples of how Jesus’s resurrection affected his disciples and how it propelled their spiritual growth and progress.
First on the scene of the resurrection was Mary Magdalene. I imagine you’re very familiar with this passage from John:
Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in.
She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?” She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”
“Mary!” Jesus said.
She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).
“Don’t cling to me,” Jesus said, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!” Then she gave them his message. John 20:11, 14-18 NLT
And of course we know they didn’t believe her. But Mary knew she has seen Jesus. Her hope was restored, or you could say resurrected, instantly.
Running away to Emmaus
Two of Jesus’s disciples had had enough. They left Jerusalem that same morning heading for Emmaus. Jesus joined them on their journey, although they didn’t recognize him until they had arrived at their destination and were sitting down for a meal.
What effect did Jesus’s resurrection have on these two men? They couldn’t get back to Jerusalem fast enough. They were so excited to tell the other disciples they had seen Jesus. Their faith and hope were also resurrected. You can read this whole story in Luke, Chapter 24.
Once they arrived back in Jerusalem, as they were telling the others they had seen Jesus, he appeared to them all. It was shocking to them. They could hardly believe it.
These very men, who had been his constant companions, to whom he had foretold his death and resurrection, still had a hard time accepting it. And yet they did.
It was the beginning of their resurrection. Jesus raised them all up that evening.
Jesus appeared several more times
Jesus appeared several other times to different groups of his followers. One time at the Sea of Galilee, another time to a crowd of 500 believers all at once. (See John 21:1 and 1 Corinthians 15:6 in the Bible references below)
All these appearing confirmed and reconfirmed the fact that Jesus had risen from the dead. Ponder for a moment the effect of this on those who saw him.
If you had been in the crowd of 500 when Jesus appeared, how would you have responded. You might have heard Mary Magdalene, Peter, or John assuring you they had seen Jesus alive after his death. But you probably would still have your doubts.
But when you saw him for yourself, you too would be taking that first step of your own resurrection.
Think of the impact this had on the crowd that day. Think of all the people they talked to afterwards as eye witnesses to the fact that Jesus was risen from the dead. And think of how that would affect the future growth of the early Christian church.
The bigger victory of Jesus’s resurrection
The resurrection was not just a personal victory for Jesus.
It was, and still is, a spiritual victory for all mankind. We are still reaping the fruits of this victory today.
And we are taking steps, however small they may seem, toward our own resurrection. The more we acknowledge Jesus’s resurrection, the more we admit the possibility and the eventuality of our own resurrection.
What does that mean for us today in practical terms?
Well, lots of things, too many possibilities to cover them all here in a podcast episode or blog post.
The resurrection mindset
I often talk about the mindset of Jesus on The Bible Speaks to You Podcast. Think for just a minute about what a resurrection mindset would be.
Jesus knew he was going to be crucified, but he also knew he would overcome death.
In fact, even before the crucifixion he said, “I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV)
This reveals a crucial facet of Jesus’s mindset. It was an acknowledging-the-victory-ahead-of-time mindset. A complete trust-in-God mindset. It was a resurrection mindset.
How can you and I embrace this aspect of Jesus’s way of thinking?
I don’t have a little pat answer for you on this. It’s something we all need to ponder and pray about, and strive to live in our daily lives and attitudes.
The beautiful thing is, God is working with us in this. Paul assures us in Romans and 2 Corinthians,
But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Romans 8:11 KJV
because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 2 Corinthians 4:14 NIV
We tend to think of this happening way off in the future sometime after we die. But why can’t we begin to experience it here and now?
Can God raise the dead today as in Jesus’s time?
People were asking the same question not too long after Jesus had ascended.
When Paul is defending himself to King Agrippa, he asks the question,
Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead? Acts 26:8 NIV
We should ask that same question today. Can we have the same conviction that Paul did?
Raising the dead did not stop with Jesus
When a disciple named Tabitha died, her friends called Peter to come to them. When he got there,
Peter asked them all to leave the room; then he knelt and prayed. Turning to the body he said, “Get up, Tabitha.” And she opened her eyes! When she saw Peter, she sat up! He gave her his hand and helped her up. Acts 9:40, 41 NLT
If this was possible then, is it not still possible today? God hasn’t changed.
Peter was so filled with the resurrection mindset, the awareness that life is spiritual and eternal, he was not impressed by what the five material senses were telling him, that Tabitha was dead.
When we adopt as our own this same resurrection mindset, then what is to prevent us from following Peter’s example?
Hypothetical or prophetic?
I know, this probably sounds rather hypothetical, and perhaps it is. But I think it’s important for us to at least acknowledge the possibility of this happening today.
And actually, I think there is a growing body of evidence that the clutches of death are losing their grip on mankind.
Just go to YouTube and search for videos of near death experiences. There are too many to count.
I met a woman in my prison ministry years ago, who was, according to the doctors in the operating room, dead for about 20 minutes. But she came back to life, and it wasn’t because of anything they did to resuscitate her.
And I know personally of several other examples when someone died and came back to life, also not because of efforts on the part of medical professionals.
Jesus’s resurrection is still overcoming death for us
Jesus has broken the hold that death has on the world. The cracks are starting to show. For me, this is prophetic of the ultimate victory over death we all have through Christ.
It’s not too soon to embrace Jesus’s resurrection mindset.
But resurrection comes in many ways, large and small. It can be the resurrection of our faith, our joy, a relationship that was dead, a lost opportunity.
This verse from Colossians always inspires me and reminds me where to keep my focus.
Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Colossians 3:1 NLT
Jesus constantly set his “sights on the realities of heaven.” He could see that the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
The more we bear witness to this fact, the more we will see the realities of heaven and the risen Christ.
And we will experience more of Jesus’s resurrection, and our resurrection, in our lives today.
Have a happy and blessed Easter.
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James Early, the Jesus Mindset Coach, is a Bible teacher, speaker, and podcaster. He conducts Bible workshops online and in person. His focus is on getting back to the original Christianity of Jesus by embracing the mindset of Christ in daily life. Contact him here.
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1 Corinthians 15:12-17 NIV
12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?
13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.
14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.
15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.
16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.
17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.
1 Corinthians 15:20 NIV
20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
Matthew 19:26 KJV
26 with God all things are possible.
John 20:11, 14-18 NLT
11 Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in.
14 She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him.
15 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?”
She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”
16 “Mary!” Jesus said.
She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).
17 “Don’t cling to me,” Jesus said, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
18 Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!” Then she gave them his message.
John 21:1 NLT
1 Later, Jesus appeared again to the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee.
1 Corinthians 15:6 KJV
6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once.
John 16:33 NIV
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Romans 8:11 KJV
11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
2 Corinthians 4:14 NIV
14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself.
Acts 26:8 NIV
8 Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead?
Acts 9:40, 41 NLT
40 But Peter asked them all to leave the room; then he knelt and prayed. Turning to the body he said, “Get up, Tabitha.” And she opened her eyes! When she saw Peter, she sat up!
41 He gave her his hand and helped her up.
Colossians 3:1 NLT
1 Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand.