The defining event of our faith and church is the resurrection of Christ. Calvary not only demonstrated His power over death, but also God’s capacity to keep His word. Dr. Stanley reminds us that without this event, Christianity would lose its message that Christ came to earth to die for our sins and triumph over death.
THE MESSAGE OF THE RESURRECTION
KEY PASSAGE: Luke 24:1-9
SUPPORTING SCRIPTURES: Matthew 16:21 | Matthew 17:1-4 | Matthew 17:22-23 | Matthew 28:18 | John 3:16 | John 6:37-40 | John 11:23-26 | John 14:2-3 | John 15:1-5 | 1 Corinthians 15:23 | 1 Corinthians 15:49-57 | 2 Corinthians 5:6 | 2 Corinthians 5:8 | Ephesians 1:7 | 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 | Hebrews 7:25 | Hebrews 9:11-14 | Hebrews 9:24 | Hebrews 10:12 | 1 John 2:1-2 | 1 John 3:1-3 | Revelation 1:3 | Revelation 21:1-5 | Revelation 21:27
When visiting Lenin’s tomb in Russia, I saw a man’s corpse encased in airtight glass. In his life he’d caused a bloody revolution, enslaved his people, and shattered his followers’ dreams, leaving them without hope. In contrast, the tomb I visited in Jerusalem was empty because Jesus was resurrected. He began a revolution of salvation that freed His followers from sin. What a difference between these two tombs and the men who occupied them! Lenin had a message of gloom and despair, but Christ has a message of eternal hope.
Jesus repeatedly told His disciples that He had to go to Jerusalem, suffer many things from the religious leaders, be killed, and raised up on the third day (Matt. 16:21). It all came to pass just as He said. Today we know the events of the resurrection, but there are deeper messages beyond what happened that day.
The first message is that Christ is alive.
Hebrews 10:12 explains that after His resurrection, He “sat down at the right hand of God.” But what is He doing in heaven?
- He’s interceding for us. Hebrews 7:25 tells us that, “He is also able to save forever those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”
- He’s our advocate. 1 John 2:1 says, “If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” An advocate is one who pleads the cause of another. Our Savior represents us to the Father as He intercedes for us.
- He’s preparing a place for us in His Father’s house (John 14:2-3). As He prepares for us, He’s waiting for the moment in the Father’s plan when He will return for us and bring us home.
- He’s living within every child of God through the presence of the Holy Spirit. This divine union is described in John 15:5 with an illustration: “I am the vine, you are the branches; the one who remains in Me, and I in him bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
The second message of the resurrection is that our sins have been forgiven, and we’re eternally secure in Christ.
We need not fear that some sin will condemn us. Ephesians 1:7 assures us, “In Him (Christ) we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our wrongdoings, according to the riches of His grace.”
Jesus paid the full penalty for our sins on the cross. But instead of eternal death, He appeared in heaven as our High Priest. “Through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all time, having obtained eternal redemption” (Heb. 9:12). The fact that He rose from the dead is proof that the Father accepted His Son’s sacrifice as the Lamb of God.
As a result, all who trust in Him as Savior are eternally secure. Jesus said, “Everything that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I certainly will not cast out” (John 6:37). Then to emphasize our security, He added, “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day” (v. 40).
The third message of the resurrection is that believers will live forever.
After Lazarus died, Jesus had a conversation with Martha, assuring her that her brother would live again. He said, “I am the resurrection and the life; the one who believes in Me will live, even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die” (John 11:25-26). This may seem like a contradiction, but Jesus was referring to two kinds of death. For believers, physical death is simply a door to heaven. Our bodies go into the grave, while we pass into the presence of the Lord (2 Cor. 5:6), but that’s the only death we’ll ever experience. In contrast, those who don’t know the Lord die physically and then remain eternally in the lake of fire.
The believers in Thessalonica were concerned about their dead loved ones who had trusted in Christ, but Paul reassured them in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17. When Christ returns, He’ll bring the souls of those who have died in Him, and they’ll be united with resurrection bodies. Then believers who are still alive will be transformed with glorified bodies and join the resurrected saints in the air to meet the Lord.
The fourth message is our bodily resurrection.
The first one to be resurrected in a glorified body was Jesus Christ. The next resurrection will be for “those who are Christ’s at His coming” (1 Cor. 15:23). The bodies we’ll receive will be different from the ones we have now. Our current bodies are fallen and perishable and cannot enter heaven, but God is going to give us glorious bodies, free from sin and corruption (1 Cor. 15:50).
The apostle John gives us another glimpse of these resurrection bodies: “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2). Right now we reflect Christ dimly, but after the resurrection when we’re free from all sin, we’ll bear His full glory.
The fifth message of the resurrection is that heaven is going to be our eternal home.
Revelation 21 and 22 give us a little peek into our future. God will create a new heaven and a new earth, and His holy city, the New Jerusalem, will come down from heaven to the new earth. “Nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Rev. 21:27). The important thing about heaven is that God and Jesus Christ are there. We’ll see His face and serve Him forever (22:4-5).
The sixth message of the resurrection is that because Christ rose from the dead, we can face each tomorrow with assurance and perfect peace.
Since Jesus now indwells us through His Spirit, we never walk through valleys alone. He’s there to strengthen, guard, guide, and cheer us along the way. And when our journey ends, our Savior will be waiting to welcome us into heaven.
- Christ’s resurrection has changed everything for us. How are you responding in light of all the Savior has done for you and promised you?
- Has the prospect of your own resurrection changed how you live day to day? First John 3:3 says, “Everyone who has this hope set on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” Could that be said of you?