Imagine, if you will, the account of Jesus ending at the cross of Calvary. This would be a hopeless message; in fact, we could not call it the gospel because a dead Savior in the tomb is not “good news”. I often wonder if the disciples who had followed Jesus for the past 3 ½ years stared at the lifeless body of Jesus hanging on the cross that dark evening; did they think “Well, that’s it boys, this was all just a waste of time! Everything we put our hope and trust in has abruptly ended!” The reality of the moment for these disciples was that everything is finished. There was nothing left but go back to their old lives. Everything they were taught, everything they believed and even fought for was now dead and gone. Everything Jesus spoke about in regard to eternal life, the abundant life, and ushering in the Kingdom of God seemed empty and meaningless.
Fortunately, this is not how the story ends.
John 20:1 – 20
The Empty Tomb
It was early Sunday morning, and it was still dark. Mary Magdalene, a faithful follower of Jesus, went to the tomb of Jesus with some other women. John does not mention the other women in his gospel, but the other three gospel writers mention these women were present and they all had come to take care of the body of Jesus. When Mary came upon the tomb, she noticed the large stone at the entrance of the tomb had been rolled away. This was concerning to her because the tomb was under guard by the order of Pontius Pilate. It was sealed with the seal of authority of Pilate and should have been exactly how it was left when Jesus was buried. Concern, she immediately went and found Peter and presumably John.
The disciples and Mary naturally assumed Jesus’ body had been stolen or moved. Immediately both Peter and John ran to the tomb to observe. When they reached the tomb John bent down and looked in and noticed the burial clothes were in tatters. John showed up first, but it was Peter who entered the empty tomb. In most instances a tomb or cave opening was only 3 feet high. A grown adult would have to crawl in through this small opening. Peter went in and noticed the burial clothes were in there, but the face clothe (kind of like a handkerchief) was not with the rest of the clothes but in its own separate place. John follows Peter and when he entered empty tomb verse 8 says, “He saw and believed.”
We are told that Jesus’ body was not stolen, it was not misplaced, nor was it hidden. The body of Jesus was resurrected, fully alive! He approaches Mary and reveals himself to her and she goes out to tell the others about the risen savior. Eventually Jesus reveals himself to the rest of the disciples and showed them his wounds and they rejoiced as they encountered their risen, friend, savior, and Messiah. Jesus is ALIVE! This is the message of Easter.
Easter is not so much about death as it is about life! Sure, PART of the Easter account is about the death of Jesus being the sacrificial Lamb who gave his life so we could have life. But Easter is about life, celebration, joy, and hope in our resurrected Savior!
The Significance of the Resurrection
So, what is the significance of the resurrection? Why is it so important for us? The truth for Christians is we put all our stock in the fact that Jesus Christ not only died on a cross, but he also conquered death by raising from the dead. The death of Jesus is essential to our Christian faith (without death atonement cannot be made) but we cannot stop at his death. The story does not end there it continues with the resurrection. The resurrection is important because…
A question that often asked is, “How can I be sure Jesus rose from the dead?” The simple answer is faith. You must have faith to believe because you or I were not present at the resurrection. However, there are written accounts of Jesus’ appearances throughout the New Testament.
How the Resurrection Affects You
So, what does all this mean for us? Through Jesus’ resurrection we also are made fully alive in Him and through him!
Ephesians 4:21 - 30
Verse 21 – 25: Since you are now alive in Christ you have a renewed mind in the Spirit. The old nature is gone and because of the resurrection you have put on the new nature. This passage details some attribute of the new life. Paul writes how the new nature calls us to stop telling lies and speak the truth to one another. We are people of the truth, and we must speak truth to one another. This includes refraining from speaking lies and living in lies.
Verse 26, 27: Not only does the new nature call you to live in the truth, you are also told to not let anger overtake you.
Anger can be and often is unhealthy because it is directly related to the old self, and it should not rule the true believer’s life. Christian theologian, pastor and former president of Dallas Theological Seminary John Walvoord writes, “The way to prevent such sin (anger) is to “keep short accounts,” dealing with the anger before the sun goes down. The reason is that the devil would like to intensify a Christian’s righteous anger against sin, causing it to become sin itself. This then gives the devil a foothold (lit., “a place”), an opportunity for leading that Christian into further sin. Then anger begins to control the believer rather than the believer controlling his anger.” Unchecked or unresolved anger is dangerous and can lead to full blown bitterness and eventual hatred. As hard as it can be at times, you must control your anger and you can do this through the power of the Holy Spirit in you.
The New Life
Verse 28 – 30: You are a new creation, and now walk opposite to the old life. Paul uses an example of a thief who once stole for a living is now to work hard for his wages to make a living for himself. The new life affects all areas of our lives. We no longer do what we did. Paul points out that the new life affects the way we speak. We no longer use foul or abusive language but language that encourages and builds others up. The NET bible translates the word “foul” as “unwholesome”. The original word means “to cause decay”. Foul language is language that destroys, demeans, and tears others down. This includes negative or harsh criticism, gossip, words spoken in anger, bullying, and lying. A person who is not a new creation in Christ does not bridle his tongue (as James talks about). He/she uses his/her words as a weapon to tear down and harm others. Since you are a new creation use your words to build up and edify; not tear down and destroy.
Verse 31: We are to get rid of the following…
These qualities are not part of the new life in Christ. These are all qualities of the old life.
Verse 32: Instead, the person who has the new life in Christ is..
When you become a new creation in Christ you become a new person in Christ. I want to challenge you today to look at your life. Are you living as a new creation in Christ? Do you allow the Spirit of God to work through you by being intentional in showing kindness to people around you; being tenderhearted to your coworkers and family; and showing forgiveness to those who seek your forgiveness. It may not come easily or right away but ask God to help you to become the person who intentionally lives a fully alive life for Jesus Christ to live the way God intended for you to live. I reiterate the new life affects EVERY (not some) aspect of our lives. We are called to live as Jesus lived and we can only do this by the power of his Holy Spirit.
So, what can we take home with us this Easter morning? The answer is simple… We have hope. This life God gave you is precious, and you can live in abundance for the Lord here on earth, but this life is not all we have. If you truly believe the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ, then there is more to look forward to in this life and in life hereafter. When one has faith in Jesus Christ one can face death without reservation, one can live a life here and now for His glory. When we know Jesus lived, died and rose again so that we can live, die and rise again gives me strength, it gives me faith, it gives me hope and it gives me the desire to live my life fully for Him because he willingly died for His children so that we may have life an abundant life both here on earth and and in the life yet to come..
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Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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