By Ed Jordan
Jesus has risen from the dead! He is risen indeed! The resurrection of Jesus is the watershed event of world history. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the distinctive mark of Christianity. Without the resurrection, Christianity could be viewed as merely another world religion.
As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:17, 20 (NLT): “And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins… But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died.” If Jesus had only died to pay the penalty of our sins, but had not bodily raised from the dead, then we would have no evidence or proof that the penalty of our sins has been fully paid.
But when God raised Jesus from the dead, His resurrection became the verification that God indeed accepted Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf, and therefore is proof that we are forgiven and can now stand clean before God. It also verifies that Jesus has defeated death once and for all, so that all who entrust their lives into Jesus’ keeping will also be raised from the dead.
One of the amazing thoughts related to the resurrection of Jesus, is the extreme efforts taken to make sure that the disciples didn’t remove Jesus’ body from the grave and then falsely claim that He rose from the dead. The high priests and Pharisees in Jerusalem did everything they could do to make sure that Jesus stayed dead and buried. In essence, they were trying to prevent Jesus from rising from the dead.
In Matthew 27:62-65 we read that they went before Pilate and requested armed guards to keep a continual watch on the tomb from the time of Jesus’s burial until the third day so that no hoax could be orchestrated. They had the tomb sealed, so no one could get in or out without breaking the seal. It sounded like a rock-solid proposal, pardon the pun.
At dawn on Easter morning two ladies arrived at the tomb. Suddenly there was a great earthquake as an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and rolled the tomb’s huge stone door aside. The angel’s appearance was like lightning. The guards were still there. They had never left the tomb, so no one came to steal the body. The guards shook with fear when they saw the angel, and became like dead men.
The angel told the women that he knew they were seeking Jesus, but that He had risen from the dead and was not there. He invited these women, the first to arrive at the tomb, to look for themselves at the place where Jesus body had been. Sometimes we think that the angel rolled the stone away so that Jesus could get out. But the evidence is that Jesus had already risen (through solid rock) before the angel’s arrival, and the door was removed later so that others could verify that He was not there.
This should not surprise us. In several of His post-resurrection appearances Jesus appeared in a locked room, without using a door. In His resurrected body He could pass through walls, and yet was also solid enough body to be touched by humans and eat solid food.
This account is wonderful, and drips of irony. The high priests and Pharisees tried to rid themselves of Jesus. They had him killed. But neither death nor human plots could not stop Jesus from accomplishing the redemptive work He came to accomplish. Death was the means to deliver us. His blood was that which brought us forgiveness of our sins, and His resurrection ended death’s reign of terror over our lives forever.
Man could not outsmart God. We could not out-maneuver God. Man could not keep Jesus in the tomb, no matter how many guards or seals were put on the tomb. Jesus did not need the door. He rose from the dead, through a sealed, guarded tomb.
Easter is the time to celebrate that no power or being defeats God. Nothing stops our unstoppable God, nor the resurrection power of Jesus. And who would want to defeat God or stop Jesus from bringing forgiveness and eternal life to us? Not me. I am for forgiveness, resurrection, and eternal life! How about you?