He is Risen: the Gospel of Salvation
"He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay." (Matthew 28:6)
For many, Easter morning is all about chocolate bunnies, coloring, and hiding eggs, and baskets filled with Peeps and jelly-beans. Speaking of Peeps, you either love or hate 'em, kinda like candy corn or circus peanuts. For the record, I'm in the middle when it comes to Peeps, but you can toss the candy corn and circus peanuts!
Prior to its commercialization, the pagans celebrated Easter as a festival celebrating spring. It's the beginning of new life.
For Christians, Easter is a celebration found in an empty tomb that brings us new life. Christ's resurrection is foundational and of utmost importance to Christianity. Without a risen Christ, there is no Christianity. There is no salvation. There is no eternal life. There would be only sin and death.
About 11-years ago, and just prior to becoming a believing Christian, my oldest daughter who was then 5-years old had a period of fearing death. One particular evening while I was lying in her room while she falls asleep (a routine we had to do at that age), she began to cry. I asked her what was wrong, and she replied, "Daddy I'm afraid of dying. What happens when you die?" That's a heavy question coming from a 5-year old! And one I was not prepared to answer honestly. So I told her what I believed would give her the most comfort. "Honey you go to Heaven to be with God." The truth is at the time, as an agnostic, I wasn't sure I believed that myself. And like her, the thought of death and what happens when you die haunted me. It would haunt me until God revealed his saving grace to me a few years later.
"Daddy I'm afraid of dying. What happens when you die?" That's a heavy question coming from a 5-year old! And one I was not prepared to answer honestly.
"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23)
Following his death on the cross, we can rejoice in our Savior Jesus Christ's resurrection. It is on the truth of this historic event that our eternal destinies depend.
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 6:10-12)
The truth of this historical event has had Satan hard at work attacking the church to discredit our Savior's resurrection. Despite Satan's attempts, for centuries the resurrection has been examined by scholars, theologians, professors, and others with no credible evidence to be found other than Jesus did in fact rise back to life following his death on the cross.
Interestingly, the Old Testament scriptures record 55 prophesies specific to Jesus' birth, his ministry, his death, and resurrection to his role in the church. All written hundreds of years prior, these prophecies written of Jesus are so specific, that the probability of this number having been fulfilled is mathematically staggering.
While there is historical evidence by hundreds of eye-witness accounts found in the Scriptures to Jesus' resurrection, still many do not believe without seeing.
"Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”
Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20: 24-29)
Regarding Jesus' statement, Pastor John MacArthur's Study-Bible commentary explains Jesus foresaw the time tangible evidence would not be available, pronouncing a special blessing to those who would believe without seeing, such as the privilege given Thomas.
"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." (Ephesians 2:8-10)
Our faith comes by God's grace alone. Not by anything we do or choose to believe. It is by the Holy Spirit who gives the elect the ability to believe and hear the voice of the Shepherd, Jesus Christ. We can't boast in anything as we did nothing to earn it.
As Christians, Christ's resurrection is the rock of the message given to us and is our witness from the day of Pentecost to today. It is by his death on the cross and his resurrection we have eternal salvation. By his death and resurrection, Jesus proved his deity, and he made those who believe clean from sin in our past and present lives. He is our light and our hope. With the help of the Holy Spirit, no matter our trials and tribulations in this life, he is our guiding help in our daily lives. As believers, in Christ alone, we have assurance in our future resurrection.
This is the Gospel message of salvation we proclaim to the world, and we rejoice in it, and worship the King, Jesus Christ. He is seated on the throne at the right hand of the Father (Rev. 3:21, Heb 12:2, Psa 110: 1-7) And all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18) has been given to Him.
Let's rejoice in our worship of our King each and every day!
Happy Easter! He is Risen. He is Risen indeed! Alleluia!