The resurrection of Christ is a vital tenet of the Christian faith. Our Lord Jesus Christ came to earth to manifest God’s love and to give His life on Calvary’s cross for a sinful people (Jn. 3: 16). Though our Saviour died, He did not remain in the tomb. On the third day He rose from the grave just as He had predicted (Matt. 20: 18-19).
A Vital Doctrine
The empty tomb of Christ sets Christianity apart from all other religions. So vital is the doctrine of the resurrection that it is recorded clearly in all four Gospels (Matt. 28: 1-20; Mk. 16: 1-14; Lk. 24: 1-53; Jn. 20: 1-31).
Without this foundational truth, the Gospel of grace and salvation would not be complete. Truly, “if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain” (I Cor. 15: 14). If Christ be not raised, “ye are yet in your sins” and “are of all men most miserable” (I Cor. 15: 17, 19); we have also proclaimed a false Gospel: “Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not” (I Cor. 15: 15).
“And does not this make us the vainest men in the world, and our office and ministry the vainest and most useless thing in the world? What end could we propose to ourselves in undertaking this hard and hazardous service, if we knew our religion stood on no better foundation, nay, if we were not well assured of the contrary? What should we preach for? Would not our labour be wholly in vain? We can have no very favourable expectations in this life; and we could have none beyond it” (Matthew Henry).
Evidence of the Resurrection
Let us consider some Scriptural accounts of the resurrection which prove beyond a doubt that the Lord rose again from the dead:
1. On “the first day of the week, very early in the morning”, a few devoted woman disciples went to the sepulchre to anoint the body of Jesus. They were perplexed to find that the stone had been “rolled away from the sepulchre”. When they entered, they “found not the body of the Lord Jesus”. Instead, they saw two men (angels) in shining garments who said to them: “Why seek ye the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, 7 Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again” (Lk. 24: 1-7).
2. After receiving news of the empty tomb from Mary Magdalene (Jn. 20: 1-2), Jesus’ disciples, Peter and John raced to the sepulchre to see it for themselves. At the tomb, they saw “the linen clothes lie, and the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself” (Jn. 20: 6-7) – “showing with what grand tranquility ‘the Living One’ had walked forth from the dead” (J F Brown Commentary).
3. Jesus appeared to His dejected disciples while the doors were shut (Jn. 20: 26). In His glorified resurrected body, the risen Saviour passed through closed doors. Showing them His hands and feet, the Lord asked His disciples to “handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have” (Lk. 24: 39b). Defying physical laws, the risen Lord also ate “a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb” (v 42).
4. Two disciples on the road to Emmaus met with the risen Saviour (Lk. 14: 13-35). Along the way, He spoke with them, and “expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Lk. 24: 27).
5. Besides His appearances in the Gospel accounts, Christ also appeared to His disciples – Cephas (Peter), the twelve, five hundred brethren, James, the apostles, Paul: “And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. 7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. 8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time” (I Cor. 15: 5-8).
The Believer’s Confidence and Hope
As we recount the events of that glorious morning of our Lord’s resurrection, we rejoice that our blessed Saviour has conquered death and the grave. We echo with joyful hearts, the words of the chorus: “He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!”
Our Saviour’s resurrection is the guarantee that at the appointed time, we, His redeemed ones, shall also be raised to be with Him in eternal glory. The apostle John reiterated this blessed hope in his epistle: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (I Jn. 3: 2).
May these thoughts of our risen Saviour encourage us to be “stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (I Cor. 15: 58). Let us serve the Lord Jesus Christ faithfully till He returns. Amen.