The Joy of the Resurrection

With the proliferation of chocolate eggs, hatching chickens, and cute fluffy bunnies in every other shop, one wonders how many people, particularly in the West, pause to consider the reason for commemorating Easter. For the Christian, Easter is the occasion on which his/her entire faith is found.

Heb 12:2 “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Easter is about both crucifixion and resurrection. The crucifixion of Jesus dealt with our past and present sin, the resurrection of Jesus deals with our present and future life.  The death of Jesus was a Victorious event in that it cancelled the penalty for our sin, and His resurrection sealed that Victory.

For the purpose of this article I want to focus on the joy of the resurrection. There are many perspectives on what Christianity is.

Author Roy L. Smith declared that “Christianity is a religion of the open tomb”.

Theologian John Stott stated that “Christianity is in its very essence a resurrection religion”.

New Testament scholar Leon Morris asserted that “The same power that brought Christ back from the dead is operative within those who are Christ’s. The Resurrection is an ongoing thing.”

Historian and theologian John S. Whale said: “The Gospels do not explain the Resurrection; the Resurrection explains the Gospels. Belief in the Resurrection is not an appendage to the Christian faith; it is the Christian faith.”

It is interesting to note that the Russian word for Sunday, woskersicnye, means resurrection. Every Russian, communist, atheist, and believer alike, must speak of the resurrection when referring to the first day of the week.

The Apostle Paul recognised the Power of the Resurrection in many of his writings; here are three examples:

Rom 8:11 “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.”

Phil 3:10 “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, Phil 3:11  and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

1 Cor 15:12 – 15 “But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.”

As illustrated from these scriptures, the strength of our faith is determined by our understanding of God’s Resurrection Power.

The following thoughts from Heb 12:2 should encourage us to draw closer to Jesus over this Easter season:

  1. THE RESURRECTION IS ABOUT JESUS

Heb 12:2 “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

The Resurrection is about a person, Jesus. Further, we read in 1 Cor 15:21, “For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.”

There is an interesting story in Luke 2:41-50 that tells us that Mary and Joseph lost Jesus in the midst of the Passover celebrations when He was twelve years old. They had journeyed back home toward Nazareth for a whole day without even realising that He wasn’t with them.  After searching for him they found Him in the Temple in Jerusalem.

In modern times we too might make the similar mistake of being consumed by our celebrations while forgetting the whole reason for it. We must beware that we don’t forget about the person of Jesus in the midst of our delighting in chocolates, roasting succulent lambs, or even piously attending Sunday morning services as a nod to “Easter.” Let’s not forget Jesus the person in the midst of the “Passover.”

  1. THE RESSURECTION IS ABOUT JOY

Heb 12:2 “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross,…”

What was the Joy set before Jesus?

American pastor and spiritual mentor A. W. Tozer said, “We understand and acknowledge that the Resurrection has placed a glorious crown upon all of Christ’s sufferings!”

The crown was a crown of Joy set before Him, for which Jesus endured the cross. Jesus’ joy was the thought of our salvation, our restoration of relationship with God, our eternal life after this temporary life.

Let me illustrate this further. I once heard a story of a letter sent from Health and Human Services to a resident of Greenville County, South Carolina: “Your food stamps will be stopped, effective March 1992, because we received notice that you passed away. May God bless you. You may reapply if your circumstances change.”  Perhaps the author of this letter believed in the Resurrection!

The Resurrection means that we will live forever in a place of Love, Joy, Peace, Power, Healing, and Love. D.L. Moody once said in New York in 1899, “Someday you’ll read in the papers that Moody is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. At that moment I shall be more alive than I am today,”

We often forget that the ultimate healing for a Christian is resurrection. Jesus didn’t die again after He was resurrected, we too will never die again. What Joy!!!

  1. THE RESSURECTION IS ABOUT COMPLETION

Heb 12:2 “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

After Jesus accomplished our Salvation He said it is Finished, Accomplished, Done, Completed, and sat down at the Father’s right hand.

God is a God of Completion, He doesn’t begin something without finishing it. Col 2:10 reiterates this: “And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.”

Jesus completed the work of Redemption at Calvary by dying for our sins and said: “It is Finished”.

Then He completed His work at the Resurrection by fulfilling the prophetic words He spoke in Matt 12:40 “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

As the Resurrection signalled the Completion of Jesus Purpose on earth, God is also able to bring our purpose to completion. The verse from Phil 1:6 is often used in Christian circles to reinforce our belief that God completes his purposes: “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

CONCLUSION

It might be controversial to say this, but the Resurrection is not just about Jesus rising from the dead; as have many people in history.  Instead, the resurrection is also about Jesus being alive today; it is about eternal life.

In Rom 8:11 we read, “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” Additionally in Heb 12:2 we read, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.”

By all means, let us celebrate Easter with family and friends – for it is indeed cause for celebration. But let us also take some time to contemplate the reality of the resurrection. Let us seek to embrace this truth with faith such that the power of the resurrection is powerfully demonstrated in every part of our lives, in every day of our lives. This is our living testimony of the risen Christ.

 

About the Author: Ps Daryl Potts is the Program Director for the Bachelor of Ministry at Alphacrucis College, with extensive prior experience in pastoring churches.