Skip to content

Because Christ Rose

March 29, 2021

“Let every man and woman count himself immortal. Let him catch the revelation of Jesus in his resurrection. Let him say not merely, ‘Christ is risen,’ but ‘I shall rise.’” Phillips Brooks

The fact that Jesus was raised from the dead is the bedrock upon which Christianity and our salvation rests.  No Resurrection, no salvation. And if Jesus did not save us and promise us eternal life, we have no hope beyond the grave.  

But there are many reasons to believe that Christ was raised from the dead as he promised his disciples (Mark 10: 34b).  I laid out the major arguments in support of the Resurrection several years ago. (Week-End Tomb

But let’s remember, with Phillips Brooks, that Jesus’ Resurrection also rescued us from the grave.  We are joyful on Easter morning in the solid belief that we will spend eternity with the Risen and Ascended Lord.[1] Because Christ rose from the dead, we can believe that he was who he said he was—fully divine as well as fully human.  

Because Christ rose from the dead, so shall we be raised after death to live with him forever.  

Our Scripture texts lay out the facts that occurred the week-end of Jesus’ death.  Jesus died on cross on Friday, during the 9th hour after sunrise—about 3 o’clock in the afternoon.  Joseph of Arimathea immediately sought permission to take custody of his body.   He and Nicodemus retrieved the body, anointed it with spices and “wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his [Joseph’s] own new tomb” (Matthew 27:59; Mark 15: 46; Luke 23:53).[2]   

The hour was late.  The men probably didn’t have time before the beginning of the Sabbath at sunset to do the customary tight wrapping of the body to absorb the body fluids and keep the odor of the decomposing body at bay.  

The women who had kept watch over Jesus throughout the day continued their devotion to Jesus after his death. Early Sunday morning, at the end of the Sabbath, “Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so they might go to anoint Jesus’ body“ (Mark 16: 1).  They intended to further anoint the body to show their respect for the Master.  The burial ritual involved wrapping and anointing the body, before it was left in the tomb to decompose.  

After about a year, when the body had decomposed, the tomb would be re-opened to remove the bones, and the bones would be placed in a stone box, called an ossuary.  But Jesus’ body never decomposed, and the bones never made it to an ossuary—because it had vanished by the time the women arrived early on Sunday morning.  The women were told by the angel: “He has risen!  He is not here” (Mark 16: 6).

Paul summarizes some of the reasons to believe that Jesus was resurrected from the dead: “By this gospel you are saved . . . For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas [Peter], then to the Twelve.  After that he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.  Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also” (1 Corinthians 15: 2-8). 

 In those few sentences, Paul cited many of the key reasons to believe that Jesus was resurrected from the dead, thereby securing our salvation. The Risen Christ appeared to many eyewitnesses in the days following his death on the cross. 

Because Christ rose, we can believe what he said.  Because Christ rose, we can trust his words and his direction. Because Christ rose, we are assured that we will be with him forever after our time on earth is finished.

But what does it mean to live forever with Christ and why do we want it?  Because it beats the alternative—eternal separation from God.  And why is separation from God so terrible?  Some people actually believe that they would prefer to be separated from an all-knowing and all-seeing God.   But you should not want even your worst enemy to be eternally separated from God.   

God is light and warmth.  Where God is there is light, love, harmony, and peace.  In heaven, our relationships with each other will be transparent, open, accepting, and loving.  God is inviting and welcoming.  The Spirit connects, heals, forgives, loves.  

Separation from God is the opposite.  Where God is not, it is dark and chaotic.  The evil one is the opposite of the Spirit—he is divisive, wounding, hostile, accusing, cold, unforgiving, and unloving.

Would you rather spend eternity with a loving God, or with a hostile enemy?  Isaiah describes our heavenly home like this: “On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine—the best of meats and the finest of wines.  On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever.  The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces.” (Isaiah 25: 6-8).  

God is the perfect host.  His surround love will envelope you as you step from this life onto the threshold of the next, where he will welcome you to the forever feast of love and friendship with God and his family. 

With God’s love and warmth in mind, David wrote: “Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure .  . . Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead . . . You make known to me the path of life; you fill me with your presence, and eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (Excerpts Psalm 16: 5, 9-11).

The author of Hebrews explained that Jesus’s sacrifice secured our freedom from sin: “We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews10:10).   The significance of the empty tomb—the fact that Christ rose from the dead–cannot be overstated.  Jesus’ atonement for our sins through his blood was perfect and complete.  Nothing can be added or taken away.  His action on our behalf was selfless, flawless, and perfect.  There is literally nothing we can do to improve our chances for salvation by one iota. 

He did it all.  Embrace the Easter promise.  Accept God’s gift of love and eternal fellowship with him.  Reach out to him as he opens his arms to welcome you into the family of God, and begin to enjoy the peace that is yours in Christ Jesus.  Because Christ rose, we will be with him forever.

Prayer:  Jesus, we praise and thank you for who you are and for saving us from ourselves.  We thank and praise you for opening our eyes today to celebrate your Resurrection as you opened the eyes of your disciples on that first Easter Day.  We praise and thank you for taking our sins upon yourself that we may walk in joy and with the knowledge that you are with us this day and forever.  Because you rose, we were welcomed into the family of God despite our flaws. Help us to follow you as we navigate through life.  Keep us grounded in your truth and in the joy of the Resurrection.  We ask this in your name.  Amen.

Diane Cieslikowski Reagan

[1] The Scripture texts for The Resurrection of Our Lord/Easter Day are Isaiah 25: 6-9; Psalm 16; 1 Corinthians 15: 1-11; Mark 16: 1-8.

[2] It was against Jewish law to leave a dead body remain exposed overnight (Deuteronomy 21:23.).

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: