BREAKING THROUGH the gloom of death and hovering over the seeming finality of the grave there abides the certainty of the resurrection morning; a morning centuries ago when two men in dazzling robes stood in an empty tomb and exclaimed, “Why seek ye the living among the dead: He is not here, but is risen: …” and, the certainty of a yet future morning when, “The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: … and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

The true significance of the Cross is inexorably linked with the empty tomb, for without the Resurrection our Lord’s death would have been the symbol of a lost cause.

And without the Resurrection there would have been no Gospel to preach.

As God’s redemptive work for sinful man unfolds, the Resurrection emerges as an absolute necessity. Prior to any resurrection there must have been death, and we know that death came into this world because of sin. If Christ’s work of redemption was to be effective then he must triumph over all the results of sin. The Resurrection therefore becomes living proof of his power as Saviour.

The ground itself was a partaker of the curse of sin: “Thorns and thistles shall it cause to bud.” The crown of thorns worn at Calvary was not merely a symbol of the derision of his tormentors. Rather we believe it to be a divinely ordained symbol of bearing in his body the penalty of sin in man and in nature.

Writing of the ultimate triumph of the Gospel, Isaiah tells of a day when: “Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”

In the light of the unfolded Gospel, revealing God’s redemption planned in the councils of eternity in and through his Son, the Resurrection becomes an absolutely necessary part of the whole.

That our Lord arose physically and visibly from the dead is one of the best attested facts of history. Remove the Resurrection story from the records—in the Gospels, in the history of the early Church, in the Pauline and other letters and in the book of Revelation, and the crowning proof of Christ as Saviour, and of immortality, vanishes from sight.

The evidence is so overwhelming, and the effect so transforming, that a study of the record brings certainty of the Resurrection that at first was ignored, then disbelieved and finally accepted as the crowning proof of the Christian faith.

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The scriptural record is one of internal evidence beyond the realm of collusion. The disciples never understood our Lord’s frequent references to his death and resurrection. After he had risen they still doubted. Only as they were confronted with “many infallible proofs” was their unbelief and hopelessness transformed into a burning assurance. Only then did they know that the One they had seen die on the cross was alive.

This same Jesus was alive. They saw him. They heard him speak. They touched him. They ate with him. They knew.

They were aware of the amazing fact that while in some way he was changed he had the same body, for they saw the scars in his hands and feet and at least one of them was invited to end his persistent doubts by thrusting his hand into the wounded side.

In the succeeding days they frequently enjoyed the fellowship of the risen Lord. His miraculous powers were still in evidence and his command to them to go out, after they had received the power of the Holy Spirit, and make disciples of all nations was an impelling commission which turned timid and ignorant men into flaming evangels of whom it was said that they turned the world upside down. That they were faithful to the command of their risen Lord—faithful even unto death—is but further evidence of the effect of knowing they were proclaiming a risen and living Saviour and Lord.

The Jews had made provision to seal and guard the tomb against the Lord’s disciples; little had they realized that they could not guard it against Christ himself. But, the stone was rolled away, not to let Christ out, but to let the wondering disciples in. Dr. Robert Speer used to say that the crowning evidence to these disciples was the collapsed grave clothes and the napkin lying separately.

All the synoptic writers tell of the Resurrection. Each supplements the other, and all bear the stamp of honesty and accuracy.

The Sabbath was deeply rooted in the law and in the practices of the Jewish religion. Only a cataclysmic event could have changed the old Jewish Sabbath, the seventh day of the week, to the Christian Sabbath, the first day of the week.

The angelic manifestations at his resurrection are significant. When Christ was born, angels had announced the event. On the Mount of Transfiguration we again find two men, Moses and Elias, talking with him about his death which he was to accomplish in Jerusalem. At his ascension it was again two angels who spoke to the disciples as they gazed heavenward and affirmed the fact of his future personal and visible return.

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A final impelling truth: as mentioned before, his disciples had been confused and dull of understanding when he frequently referred to his coming death and resurrection. They frankly admitted that they did not at first believe the Resurrection story. Collusion, therefore, for the removal of the body would have been impossible. It was only when they saw, and touched, and heard and lived with the risen Lord, that they at last believed.

Because the Resurrection was the crowning and visible evidence of the power of God to these disciples, unlearned and ignorant and fearful men were completely transformed. Weak in faith and turning again to their fishing nets in disillusionment, these disciples were suddenly transformed by the blinding light of a new faith, a knowledge that the Lord they thought to be decaying in a tomb was alive, that he had triumphed over death and the grave, and the realization of this fact completely transformed their lives. They went out to preach the Gospel of redemption and a new life in their risen Lord: “Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.”

These same disciples who had fled before the torch-lit mob headed by Judas (one of whom had cursed and sworn that he knew not the Christ) stood unafraid and unabashed before the murderers of Jesus and said: “Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.” And, when they were ordered not to preach in his name they prayed not for protection but for courage: “And now Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant to thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word …”

Nothing less than the visible, bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, became a doctrine to be preached; nothing less than the infallible proofs which they themselves had seen and experienced could account for the transformation of these men.

The Christian religion is a supernatural religion and it has a supernatural effect on those who believe.

In God’s plan of redemption the supernatural is seen on every hand. Our Lord, the eternal Son of God, is a supernatural person. That he emptied himself and came into this world was itself a supernatural act accomplished in a supernatural way, his virgin birth. His life showed his supernatural powers and his death accomplished a supernatural redemption. His resurrection, while a supernatural event, was but the natural consequence of both his person and his power.

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The Resurrection story and its effect on the hearts and minds of believers is the crowning evidence of God’s saving grace. Prove it? Talk with him today and he will make his living presence a reality in your life.

That which God did through his disciples nineteen centuries ago he wants to do through you and me today. Paul saw this same risen Lord and was transformed by him. “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

Brothers … That is living!


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