As a church, we've been reading the accounts of Jesus' final week which all culminated in His death by crucifixion on Friday. Before the sun went down, Jesus' body was laid in a tomb. Case closed.
What was the feeling on the streets? Some were mystified. For while Jesus hung on the cross, nature convulsed; the sunny Jerusalem sky turned black; an earthquake struck the city, damaged the Temple; dead people were seen.
Yet Jesus' enemies were relieved, even as His followers grieved—they felt confused, they felt lost.
Yet for months, Jesus told them He would be killed, and rise on the third day.
Remember when Jesus went to the temple in Jerusalem, people were selling sacrificial animals at a profit! So Jesus flipped over their tables and scattered the coins to the ground and then He drove them out of the Temple.
John 2:18 The Jews said to Him, "What sign do You show us as your authority to do these things?" 19 Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." 20 The Jews then said, "It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?" 21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body.
When they asked Him give them a sign, prove Your authority, He said I'll give you a sign: So you know I have authority over God's temple, authority to forgive sin, and authority to give eternal life to those whom I love—Three days after you kill Me, I will rise from the dead with all power and authority.
Jesus spoke similarly with His closest friends. John records when He told them not to panic when He's arrested, not to doubt when they crucify Him,
John 10:18 "No one takes [My life] away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down; I have authority to take it up again."
According to the historical records, Jesus was arrested Thursday. And put to death on Friday and His body was laid to rest that same evening.
Let's pick up the story pre-dawn three days later on that first Sunday,
Matthew 28:1 Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. 2 Behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. 4 The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men. 5 The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. 6 He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. 7 Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you."
Before He died, Jesus said things like,
1) I have the authority to forgive in a way that really matters, in a relational way that changes everything between you an God.
2) I'm the One has authority over the grave! I will raise you from the dead,
3) To those who trust Me, I promise eternal life with Me.
4) And to prove that I am will do these for you who believe: three days after you bury my dead body, I will rise from the dead—not in a scary-zombie way but in a glorious, beautiful way with an awesomely supernatural body.
Well it's the third day, and these women who loved Jesus find His tomb empty. An angel is there all dazzling and radiant! The angel tells them Jesus has risen from the dead—just like He promised! We can always trust Jesus.
And then Jesus reveals Himself to Mary, then to Peter and several others.
Now they're in one the disciples homes telling the others who hadn't seen Him—"We've seen Him! Jesus is alive! Everything He said to us is true."
Luke 24:36 While they were telling these things, He Himself stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be to you." 37 But they were startled and frightened and thought that they were seeing a spirit. 38 And He said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have." 40 And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. 41 While they still could not believe because of their joy and amazement, He said to them, Have you anything here to eat? 42 They gave Him a piece of a broiled fish; 43 and He took it and ate it before them.
If you have teenagers, you might here that question a lot, "Do we have anything here to eat?!" But Jesus wanted to show them something, that He is just Jesus' ghost or His spirit. Jesus in His body rose from the dead, changed.
The resurrection changes everything!
When you read all accounts, Mary doesn't even recognize Jesus; she thinks he's the gardener. The two disciples who met Jesus on the road to Emmaus think he's some out-of-the-loop drifter. The larger group of disciples see Jesus and think He's a ghost. He had to eat some food just to show them He's real.
The resurrection changes everything.
It changed everything for the disciples! When Jesus was killed they lost hope, they feared for their lives. But seeing Jesus alive changed them from deniers to martyrs! Even as they were tortured and promised relief if they but deny Him, not one of them denied that Jesus rose from the dead or that He gives eternal life. The resurrection changes everything…
The resurrection changes us. Our relationship with God. How we live. Jesus has all power and all authority over everything that's going on in our world…
How much anxiety does this coronavirus stirs in us. How much do you stress over your finances? We can't always control how we react to these. But Jesus' resurrection proves that He has authority and He is worthy of all our trust and hope and worship, that we need not fear anything, not even death.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ also changes our destiny.
For Christ is risen! And He's the first fruits of those who are asleep.
This means what happened to Jesus in His resurrection will happen to us. He is our guarantee that we will be resurrected and our model of what to expect.
1 Corinthians 15:51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.
This is why we don't need to fear in this life, or fear even death. We heard this from Wendy. We've heard it from believers throughout history. Not just Jesus' body but ours too will be raised immortal, glorious, and full of power.
1 Corinthians 15:42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a [it is buried in the ground a] perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body…
No longer subject to pain, hunger, sin nature, addictions, illness, death.
1 Corinthians 15:43 it is sown in dishonor [this body goes into the ground looking awful], it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness [lifelessness], it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
Both Jesus' resurrection and ours means infinite hope, glory and joy to come.
Right now, all over the world Coronavirus is the big deal. The stakes couldn't be higher. We've watched maps of its spread across the world to make its way here. People are dying. COVID-19 makes death very real to many of us. It reveals that the people we live and work with are super afraid of dying.
But today is Easter Sunday, Resurrection Sunday. Jesus rose from the dead. He guarantees your resurrection. He shows you what you can expect. As big of a deal as COVID-19 is, Jesus' resurrection is a far bigger deal!
He is risen indeed. His promise to raise us from the dead with Him and to give us a glorious new future in immortal glory and power and agape love is even truer and greater news. Resurrection is the ultimate antidote. His. Yours.