Jesus Is Risen -- So What?
In a few days we celebrate Easter. Whatever your opinion may be about the recognition and celebration of Easter, the historical reality is that Jesus the Messiah, lived a sinless life, died a vicarious death, and rose literally and bodily from the dead three days later.
The gospel the early church proclaimed had the resurrection of Christ as its central tenet. In thirteen sermons in the Book of Acts which are addressed to unbelievers, eight stress the resurrection as the cardinal doctrine and the infallible proof of faith.
The truth is that the gospel without a resurrection is not merely a gospel without its final chapter. It is no gospel at all. Everything that makes the Gospel a gospel is suspended on the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Jesus is risen, so what are some of the inescapable implications of Christ’s His resurrection that makes the gospel the best news ever announced?
- Jesus is risen, therefore God’s new creation is launched upon a surprised world, pointing ahead to the redemption and the renewal of the entire creation. 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
The gospel proclaims that at His first coming, Jesus brought to end the old-world order of a holy land and holy places. Jerusalem, representative of the nation of Israel and Judaism, with its temple, sacrificial system, priesthood, special feast days, etc., became obsolete by fulfillment and the New Creation, with its New Covenant of the kingdom of God, was established. (Hebrews 8:13: “In that He says, “A NEW COVENANT,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.”)
The new creation based upon the standards of the new covenant is operative now because the final, complete, decisive, lasting act of divine salvation happened when Jesus, the Messiah, came, lived, died, was buried, rose again, and ascended back to heaven. He was the final Adam (Romans 5:12-21), and the final prophet like Moses (Acts 3:22; 7:37), the final and ultimate Israel (Matthew 4:1-11), the final high priest (Hebrews 7:23-24), the final Passover sacrifice (1 Corinthians 5:7), the final manna from heaven (John 6:31-32), the final suffering servant of Isaiah 53 (Mark 10:45), and the final Son of Man of Daniel 7(Matthew 24:30). His blood was the blood of the promised final new covenant in Jeremiah 31:31 (Luke 22:20). He therefore was the final, decisive “Yes” and “Amen” to all God’s promises (2 Corinthians 1:20).
- Jesus is risen, therefore God’s verdict against His people has been transposed into His vindication of them.Romans 4:25, “…who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” Resurrection-empowered good news declares that we who believe in Christ now have peace with God, participation in God's family, personal access to the Father, and perfect assurance that we are no longer aliens but citizens in the kingdom of peace.
It makes no difference how dejected, how defeated, how despairing, how depraved, how demonized a person may be, an encounter with the Risen Christ breaks the power of canceled sin and sets the prisoner free, restores the fallen to usefulness, and re-signs those who have resigned on Jesus!
- Jesus is risen, therefore the kingdom has been definitively established, is being progressively extended, and will be finally victoriously consummated. Act 1:3, “He (Jesus)presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.”
- Jesus is risen, therefore the tyrants and despots of the world should tremble and quiver, because God has exalted Jesus and every knee will bow before Him. Philippians 2:9-11, “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
- Jesus is risen, therefore the true Israel of God has been restored and the plan for the nation is fulfilled in Him. The scriptures teach that Jesus is the ultimate Israel. In Matthew 2:15 the Holy Spirit quotes a verse referring to national Israel, “Out of Egypt I called my son” (Hosea 11:1) and says Jesus fulfills this prophecy! We are being told Jesus is the true faithful Israel of God. He alone is worthy of the covenant blessings. Messiah is the supreme seed of Abraham (Galatians 3:16). Paul explicitly says: “The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say `and to his seeds’, meaning many people, but ‘and to his seed’ meaning one person, who is Messiah’”. It is only through faith in Jesus that we come into the fullness of the promise to Abraham.
- Jesus is risen, therefore death has been defeated. Because Jesus has blasted a cross-shaped hole through the walls of death's prison house, the grave is no longer a penitentiary of doom, instead it has become a passageway to Glory for all those who have fallen in faith at the feet of King Jesus! The grave is no longer a potentate over the kingdom of skulls and skeletons, instead it has been made the porter, transporting all who die in faith into the Glory Land of the blessedness of His presence. The rock has been thrown away from the opening of death's door. Death will come for every Christian, if Jesus tarries, but it cannot keep them.
- Jesus is risen, therefore creation groans in anticipation of the final reversal and removal of the curse. Rom 8:21, “that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.”
- Jesus is risen, therefore we will be raised also to live forever in God’s new creation.
- Jesus is risen, therefore we are to go and make disciples in His name.
- Jesus is risen, therefore we have the task of proclaiming, embodying, and demonstrating before the world exactly what this new creation is and what it looks like.
Paul concludes his great resurrection dissertation in 1 Corinthians 15, not by saying, “So let’s celebrate the bliss of heaven that awaits us.” He says, “So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and steadfast, always enthusiastic about the Lord’s work, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.”
In Christ, we are truly the people of the New World Order, the people of a New Age, a New Heaven and New Earth, a New Israel, a New Kingdom, a New Jerusalem, a New Sanctuary, and of a New Inheritance! Because resurrection life is abundantly available and powerfully active, our uplook to King Jesus can be rightly focused and our outlook for ministry can be fruitfully exercised! When resurrection power fills us, our obedience will be active and our outreach will be progressive, our prayers will be effective, our joy will be contagious, and our hope will be motivating!
Christ resurrection should fill His people with a confidence that is not based upon things getting better, or humans fixing everything. Our confidence should rest in the power of the gospel, which is good news based upon the successful labors of Christ at His First Advent, and the present ministry of the Holy Spirit in His empowering the People of God with the Word of God, so they are expecting to see the ever-increasing victories of the kingdom of God grow more and more.
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Hallelujah!