Bloodied, bruised, beaten, nailed, and speared. It was hard to believe that Jesus, the Son of God, the Word (Logos) made flesh, was dead. After all, He was the Messiah, the promised and long-awaited anointed Savior! Ancient prophecies told of His kingdom might and power. During His earthly ministry, Jesus healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, raised the dead, and forgave sins. And if you knew those ancient Scriptures, then only God can lay claim to that.
The brutality of Roman rule seemed to triumph once again. The King of the Jews was dead. Those who had hoped for a different outcome now cowered in a mixture of fear, contempt, and brewing anger. The turn of events, unpredictable at best, was not what any of Jesus’ disciples anticipated.
Earlier in the ordeal, when the soldiers came with clubs, swords, and lanterns to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asked them who they were looking for.
“Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.
“I am He.”
Jesus’ answer knocked them down. The power of the “I AM” in Jesus’ response caused even battle-hardened warriors to collapse in helplessness. But then, Jesus let them arrest Him. That’s when Peter, seeing events seemingly go so wrong, clumsily wielded his sword, failing to decapitate the high priest’s servant (John 18:1-11).
Now, hours later, Jesus was dead. Darkness and terror lay in the hearts of the living — most of all, His followers. It just wasn’t meant to happen that way! Or was it?
The Gospel narratives clearly show that on several occasions, Jesus predicted His death, to be followed by His resurrection three days and three nights later (Mark 8:31, et al.). But it didn’t register even with His closest disciples. However, Jesus’ detractors, the Jewish religious rulers (namely, the Pharisees), did remember Jesus’ prophetic assurances. Added security was enforced around the tomb, ensuring no unpredicted outcome.
The belief in the literal resurrection of Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man, is at the heart of the Christian message, hope, and doctrine. There is no other central teaching, no other matching doctrine. Jesus died on a Wednesday afternoon, was buried before sunset prior to the high day of Unleavened Bread, and rose from the dead sometime around sunset that following Saturday night. When Mary arrived at the tomb early on Sunday morning, Jesus was gone.
The angelic messenger questioned her: “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen!” (Luke 24:5, 6).
Today, we stand on the testimonies of those first century eyewitnesses. We see their despair and feel their darkness. And then, just as Jesus predicted, we also exult in their exceedingly great joy at seeing their Lord and Savior again. Such gladness continues to echo across the millennia in the endearing and enduring faith of those who would follow.
Many years later, one of Jesus’ closest disciples again saw the now glorified Son of God in a powerful and terrifying vision. Jesus said to John, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen” (Revelation 1:17, 18).
If it is true that Jesus, the Son of God, died and rose again, then this narrative needs our serious attention. It’s otherwise foolish to relegate such compelling evidence as fables to be discarded to the realm of fantasy. As a verifiable, factual recording of events, Jesus’ resurrection must be the most terrifying truth we could ever encounter. It suddenly condemns our society’s atheistic suppositions as deceptively and dangerously wrong, just as it also opens up the realms of possibility and hope.
Without resurrection, we have no hope. Human life is otherwise just a random accident, neither good nor bad, with no meaning or purpose. But if the Logos who spoke everything into existence, then entered our reality of time, matter, and space to demonstrate complete redemption and forgiveness by His own sacrifice — and if He is who He says He is — then you and I have a responsibility to ask, “What does it mean for me and for everyone else who has ever lived?”
Are we willing to explore the compelling reasons to believe and hope in the power and promise of glorious resurrection life?