by Justin Huffman
The resurrection of Jesus is a pivotal point in human history. And no one was more aware of, or insistent upon, its significance than Jesus himself. It is therefore helpful to consider what Jesus himself had to say about his own death, burial, and resurrection -- and the ongoing implications of that event still today.
Jesus' death and resurrection were not a surprise, or plan B, for Jesus. Jesus many times spoke publicly and plainly about his coming death and resurrection. So much so that the Jewish leaders in Matthew 27 referred to this claim in order to motivate Pilate to set guards at Jesus’ tomb.
More than 3 years before his death, Jesus told the Jewish leaders in John 2:19-22:
"Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up…he spake of the temple of his body. When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said."
In John chapter 10, Jesus even emphasized this was his purpose in coming into the world, and that he was sovereign over the entire event: "I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again." (17-18).
And Jesus himself emphasized the significance of the resurrection, as John records in chapter 11 of his gospel: "I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die" (25-26).
The resurrection proves Jesus’ power to defeat sin, death, and Satan and to raise us from the dead.
As Jesus himself points out, rather than becoming a victim of our sins, when he rose from the dead Jesus became victor over our sins: "I am he that lives, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore…and have the keys of hell and of death" (Revelation 1:18).
This is why Jesus would over and again tell those he healed or performed miracles for not to publish his name yet; but then after the resurrection, he would tell all his disciples: "go therefore and teach all nations" in my name. And this is why critics of Christianity have, above all else, tried to tear down the witness of the resurrection.
It is Jesus himself, then, who places tremendous emphasis on the resurrection, both before and after the event.
When we call ourselves Christians we are, as much as anything else, declaring ourselves believers in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
We honor the resurrection in baptism (Romans 6:3-4). We honor the resurrection by worshiping on Sunday, rather than on the Jewish sabbath (John 20:1; Acts 20:7; Revelation 1:10). In a sense, every Sunday is Easter Sunday, because we meet on the first day of the week to commemorate “the Lord’s Day” on which Jesus rose from the dead. And we honor the resurrection, indirectly, even in the Lord’s Supper, because "we show the Lord’s death until he comes again" (1 Corinthians 11:26).
In the resurrection, Jesus himself reminds us, we have the assurance that all power and authority has been given to him. We therefore ought to trust in him, rest in him, worship him, and labor faithfully for him until he returns from heaven.
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