Youth And The Risen Christ
It was yet dark on that memorable first day of the week when Mary Magdalene came to the sepulchre and found the stone rolled away. The dawn brought enough light for Peter and John to see the order of the grave clothes inside the empty tomb, but there was no sunshine penetrating the gloomy hearts of the weeping women, or those of the despairing disciples who mourned the loss of their Lover and Leader. Praise God! That day did not miss, however, the resplendent sunrise of the glorious truth, The Lord is risen indeed! “Then were the disciples glad,” says John, “when they saw the Lord.” (John 20:20).
The resurrection became the theme of the early heralds of the gospel. A careful reading of the Book of the Acts will reveal the frequency with which they preached of Jesus and the resurrection. Paul, likewise, in his definition of the gospel (1 Cor. 15:3) states, “That Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.
The resurrection is the irrefutable testimony that Jesus is all that He claimed to be, and not a mere impostor, as His enemies had suggested He was declared to be the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead His own as well as that of others (Rom. 1:3). Little wonder, therefore, that the early apostles laid such stress on this glorious fact. It was the foundation of their faith and the basis of their argument.
To a young believer today, what does the resurrection mean? Beyond being a well-established historical fact, has it any real importance to us?
First of all, it is the proof that our sins have been put away by His sacrificial death. Romans 4:25 tells us that He was delivered for our offences, and that He was raised again for our justification. Having learned from the Word of God that our sins were laid upon Jesus, the dying Lamb of Calvary, we see Him now, by faith, in the presence of God the Father, where sin can never enter. His exalted position is evidence that He finished the work by which the stain of guilt has been blotted out forever, and that we are made, in the sight of God, as though we had never sinned. A simple definition of what it is to be justified has been given as, “just-if-I’d never sinned, but this, while blessedly true, is nevertheless very weak. Justification not only pictures the sinner as if he had never sinned, but as if he had always been perfectly righteous, even as Christ is perfectly righteous. Young believer, you are complete in Him, and therefore have a perfect standing before God.
The resurrection of Christ, moreover, assures us of having a High Priest in heaven, Who ever liveth to make intercession for us, as Hebrews 7:25 states.
He, as such, can have compassion on the ignorant and upon them that are out of the way (Heb. 5:2), for He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities (Heb. 4:15) He is able also to save us to the uttermost (Heb. 7:25), as He ministers mercy and grace to help in every time of need (Heb. 4:16).
In third place, let us consider the solemn statement of the Holy Spirit, “For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that He might be Lord both of the dead and living” (Rom. 14:9). Our Lord Jesus is the absolute Master of the believer in both spheres. Among men the relationship between master and servant ends with death, but in the purposes of God, Christ is Lord and Master in both time and Eternity, consequently, “We shall all stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ (Rom. 14:10). Reflection upon these weighty words emphasizes the fact that the believer is the steward of all that has been entrusted to him: time, talent, and means; and, more over, that he must eventually give a full account of his stewardship. Oh, that Christians, young and old alike, would live in view of the Judgment Seat of their holy Lord!
The ascension of the Risen Christ is the pledge of the promise of His return, and His resurrection the pattern of the arising of those that sleep in Jesus. To His own He declared, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go… I will come again and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2-3). To the dazed disciples, gazing up into heaven, this message of hope and joy came from two men in white, “This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).
Yes, even those in the grave will be raised by His mighty power. “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him” (1 Thess. 4:14). “Now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Cor. 15:20). We, therefore, comfort one another with these thoughts. The young Christian mother who lost her baby recently; the lad who laid aside the precious remains of his spiritually minded father, and the broken-hearted bride-to-be who followed her lover to the grave, and laid him there in certain hope of a glorious resurrection, may all be consoled by the fact that the resurrection of Christ assures us of His final triumph over death and the grave.
To summarize, the resurrection is the receipt which shows that our debt of sin is paid; that we have the assurance of salvation, and that before God we stand in all the perfections of Christ’s righteousness.