Read Matthew 28:1-10.
The truth of the resurrection of Christ is one of the most important doctrines of the Christian faith. In 1 Corinthians 15:14 Paul says, “If Christ be not risen from the dead, then our preaching is vain and your faith is vain also.” Inseparably linked with the resurrection of Christ is the resurrection of all those who have died in Christ. Furthermore, Paul says that if Christ is not raised from the dead, then there is no hope for believers who have died—they have perished. Moreover, he asserts that if Christ was not resurrected, preachers are false prophets and our faith is in vain.
The resurrection of Christ is just as important to our Christian faith and hope as the death of Christ on the Cross. Romans 14:25 says, “Jesus was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification.” To be saved, we must believe in the resurrection of Christ as well as His death. Romans 10:9 says, “That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
There are three questions that I would like you to consider:
- How can sinful man be reconciled to a thrice-holy God? How can the infinite chasm separating deity from humanity be bridged? What ladder shall be able to rest upon earth and yet reach into heaven itself?
There is only one answer to these questions. The initial step in the work of human redemption must be the incarnation of Christ’s deity, followed by His death, resurrection, and ascension.
The Incarnation of Christ
By the incarnation of Christ, we mean His coming into the world as a man. John tells us in the first verse of his Gospel, that “Christ was God.” In John 1:14 he says, “The Word became flesh and lived among us.” History recounts the birth of our Lord: The Holy Spirit conceived him. Luke 1:35 says, “The Holy Spirit shall come upon you.” He was born of a Virgin. Matthew 1:23 says, “Behold the virgin shall be with child “Immanuel.” His human birth defies reason, and the place of His birth arouses sympathy and sorrow. “Great is the mystery of godliness - God was manifest in flesh.”
The Death of Christ
Christ came in human form in order to:
Reveal the Father. See John 14:9 - “He that has seen me has seen the Father.”
Put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. See Hebrews 9:26 - “But now, once in the end of the age hath he appeared […]”.
Christ was really born to die. Jesus Himself said, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believes, […]”. If the birth of Christ defies reason, then there are three mysteries in the death of Christ that the human mind cannot penetrate. Think of the mysterious darkness that enshrouded the cross. Out of the darkness came but one utterance, so awfully deep that no saint has ever sounded its depths. “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”
The Resurrection of Christ
When Paul spoke of the resurrection of Jesus, he stirred up violent opposition. See Acts 17:32. Some mocked, while others said we will hear you again on this matter. The resurrection of Christ was a mind-baffling event. No finite being can explain the resurrection; it was divine from first to last. The One who could give to three individuals, and give power to Elisha and Peter to raise people from the dead, could also raise Himself.
His resurrection was predicted by the Psalmist in Psalm 16 who said, “You will not leave My soul in hell, nor permit Your Holy One to see corruption.” On the resurrection morning, His soul was brought back from Hades (the unseen world). His body, though dead for three days, did not see corruption. This was unusual. It was sin that brought corruption and since there was no sin in Christ, His body could not corrupt.
A woman came to Jesus’ tomb and found it empty—so did Peter and John. The empty tomb is mute evidence that Christ rose. A Mohammedan guide, showing a Christian the reputed site of the tomb of Jesus, said with a cynical smile, “We who follow Mohammed can visit our sacred city and worship the bones of our prophet, but you have nothing but an empty tomb.”
The grave clothes are another proof of the resurrection—they were left behind in perfect order. The angel said, “He is not here, He is risen.” Amen. Modernism leaves the body in the tomb. Modernism says that He did not rise from the tomb—nor did He ascend into heaven—nor is He in heaven as the glorified Man—nor is He coming again. Stephen saw Him. Saul of Tarsus saw Him. John saw Him. And this monstrosity claims the name of Christianity. The two great pillars upon which Christianity rests are the Virgin birth and the physical resurrection of Christ after He had expired on the Cross as the substitute for sinners. The nailed scarred hands were moved. He ascended.
The resurrection was in the plan of God. Jesus foretold it several times during His earthly ministry. If the Cross was the climax to the life of Jesus, then the resurrection was a super climax. Although it was shown that Jesus laid down His life and took it up again, the resurrection is also attributed to the Father in Hebrews 13:20, the Son, in John 2:19-21, and to the Holy Spirit in Romans 8:11.
This was the supreme miracle of the ages. God enacted the greatest miracles or mysteries, which became the absolutes of our faith, in divine seclusion. No human eye witnessed the conception of Jesus. No human eye witnessed the ultimate sufferings of Christ. No human eye witnessed the resurrection. But, thank God, He is risen, the tomb is empty—an angel sat on the stone.
He showed Himself alive to His disciples, and to over 500 brethren at one time. No unsaved person saw the Lord in resurrection life (see Acts 10:40-41). “Him God raised up the third day, and showed Him openly; not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before by God, even to us, who did eat and drink with Him after He rose from the dead.” Forty days after His resurrection He was received up into heaven. He is a Prince and a Savior able to save to the uttermost, all who will come to God by Him.
He is coming again:
“This same Jesus whom you have seen go into heaven shall so come in like manners.”
“The heavens shall glow in splendor,
but brighter far than they,
the saints shall shine in glory
as Christ shall turn array,
but the beauty of the Savior
will dazzle every eye, [...]”
The Tragedy: The disciples did not believe the women when they reported the resurrection. Thomas said, “I will not believe except […]”
[Make an appeal here]