The Resurrection of Christ: The Tomb is Empty, and the Lord Lives!
The exclamation “Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed!” is as old as the Church itself. It testifies to the central, controlling belief of believers in Jesus of Nazareth worldwide as they celebrate his victory over the grave in his bodily resurrection from the dead.
As was prophesied in Scripture, and foreseen by our Lord himself, he suffered on the Tree bearing our sins in his body and overcoming the guilt and power of the grave and the curse. Yet, on the third day down he rose triumphant from the grave, and is alive now forevermore! His resurrection serves as the pinnacle of all Christian belief, and is itself the ground for all biblical revelation on the redemption won to us through the Father’s love.
The apostles taught that the resurrection of Jesus represents the central doctrine in all Christian faith and belief. Paul told the Corinthians that if the resurrection did not occur, then not even Christ has been raised, their apostolic preaching was worthless, and their faith would be futile. The apostles themselves would be found to be misrepresenting God, having borne witness that Christ has risen, when he did not (1 Cor. 15:12-15).
The Resurrection as the Centerpiece of our Doctrine and the Heart of Christian Faith
The fact is, however, that Jesus did not simply teach the resurrection; he claimed to be, in fact, the Resurrection and the Life itself (John 11.25-26)! As such, his rising confirms God’s veracity and truthfulness, confirming the Scriptures. From its earliest worship, the Church made the resurrection the centerpiece of its worship and community. As the living Savior he is with us to the end of this age (Matt. 28.20). Even his “going away” (in suffering and death) did not prevent him from coming to us again in his resurrected glory, leading to his gift of the Holy Spirit to all believers (John 14.28). By faith we died with him, have been made alive together with him, are raised with him through baptism, and even have ascended and sit with him in heavenly places (Rom. 6.1-4; Eph. 2:5).
Clearly, it is in the Jesus’ resurrection that Christus Victor becomes most convincing (Gal. 1.4; Col. 2.15; 1 John 4.40). In the person of Jesus Christ, and through his resurrection, the Age to Come has broken into this present age, with our Lord becoming the first-fruits of those who sleep. Christ is the first fruits of the eschatological harvest of souls destined to live in the fully consummated Age to come (1 Cor. 15.20). Moreover, he is the “firstborn” from among the dead, i.e., the primary one, the preeminent one, and the pattern of all who with him will rise from the dead, and inherit eternal life in the new heavens and earth (Col. 1.18; Rev. 1.5-6). By the power of his resurrection, God has birthed us to a living hope, rooted in God’s mercy and an inheritance that will never perish or fade away (1 Peter 1.3-5).
Surely then, it makes sense that the early Church chose Easter as the singular event to welcome new converts into the Church, to restore backsliders and penitents, and to convocate in joyous gatherings of remembrance and worship. Christ’s resurrection does not merely guarantee the life of the Age to Come for a future time; rather, it provides us with hope, power, and confidence to live a new life today, right here, right now in him. Truly, if anyone is in Christ, s/he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come (2 Cor. 5.17).
Christ Is Risen! He is Risen, Indeed!
Come, celebrate this Easter season with glad shouts of victory and honor to Jesus, our risen Lord! His resurrection serves as the absolute proof of the coming consummation of the plan of God, the coming resurrection of the dead, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and promise of eternal life for those who believe. Let us gladly stir up pure longings for his return, and the end of this present fleeting age of darkness and sin. Join us in confessing that Jesus is Lord, and that God has raised him from the dead. This same Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified and killed by lawless men is no longer dead. God has raised him up as victorious conqueror, and being loosed from the chains of death, he can secure all who believe by the same power. Because he lives, we can live today and face tomorrow.
“Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed!”