“Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.” (Luke 24:5–6)
The believers who saw the risen Christ with their own eyes and touched him with their hands spent the rest of their lives talking about the resurrection. For sure, they preached crucifixion and propitiation — the central hinge of the gospel message — but the message of the cross was not the most controversial thing they had to say in their day.
The claims the apostles made about Jesus’s death were wildly controversial, but they were persecuted and martyred not because of what they said about his death, but because of what they said happened next. The sermons in Acts are filled with the resurrection, showing over and over what it means for those who follow Christ. Almost no one debated that Jesus died, but the Jews violently refused to believe that he rose just three days later.
The Jews were not as offended by the two blocks of wood as they were by the empty tomb. The largest stumbling block was in fact a boulder, rolled away and preaching the resurrection of the Christ.
Jesus is not dead. And when he rose from the grave, against all of Satan’s lies and schemes, he guaranteed for you the greatest realities in the world. Two thousand years later, the resurrection still preaches God’s relentless commitment to win every victory for you, including these seven for Easter Sunday.
1. God has defeated death for you.
Satan conspired with Judas, Pilate, and the Jewish leaders to kill the Author of life, but God raised him from the dead (Acts 3:15), “loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it” (Acts 2:24). And if you believe in him, death cannot hold you either: “Jesus said, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live’” (John 11:25).
Jesus rose to prove that he had defeated death. Until he rose, death seemed to swallow up every ounce of life and hope from generation after generation. “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), and “none is righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). So, how could sinners have any hope of escaping death?
God had promised everlasting life centuries before, but the resurrection revealed it was certain for his chosen, redeemed, and adopted sons and daughters. Though many had lived and believed and died before him, Jesus was the firstborn from the dead (Colossians 1:18). And if there is a first, God means for more to follow him.
2. God has purchased all his promises for you.
Jesus rose to prove the Old Testament promises and warnings were truly from God. God’s promises have always been the only lifeline of hope for those of us living under the supreme death penalty. But the resurrection brought those promises into fuller and higher definition.
“They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. . . . To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (Acts 10:39–43)
The promises simply seem too good to be true — until we see God raise Jesus from the dead. Suddenly, what seemed so impossible to man was wonderfully possible and guaranteed with God.
3. God will judge every sin committed by you or against you.
While the apostle Paul was waiting in Athens, he preached, “[God] now commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:30–31).
Jesus rose to prove that he would one day judge all sins. Every sin we have committed, and every sin committed against us, brings God into question. Will justice prevail? Will we all be wiped away and thrown into hell? When God raised Jesus from the dead, he made clear that every sin would be punished — on the cross for all who repent, and in judgment for all who refuse.
If you are alive with Christ, there is now no condemnation for you (Romans 8:1), and no sin against you will be overlooked or excused by God.
4. God will restore everything wrong or broken in front of you.
The apostle Peter calls his fellow Jews to Jesus, saying, “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago” (Acts 3:19–21).
Jesus rose to prove he would eventually return and make all things right. This last year provides another twelve months of evidence that this world is broken and breaking. And this Easter is another statement that our hope is as alive as Jesus. The world will be rid of sin, including all its causes and consequences. In God’s wise and loving plan, that day is not today. But today is a great day to stop beside the empty tomb, and remember what will be one day.
5. Your bondage to sin is great, but God really can set you free.
Peter healed a man lame from birth, inviting him to finally walk after all these years, in the healing name of Jesus. The priests came to arrest Peter and John, “greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead” (Acts 4:2). In custody and under trial, Peter boldly says,
“Let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead — by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:10–12)
Jesus rose to prove that you really can be saved from your sin. You do not deserve salvation, and you could never achieve it in your own strength and resolve. If Christ did not rise from the dead, hope would have lain next to him in the grave. But he is not dead, and therefore we have hope.
Sin condemns us to everlasting judgment and never-ending torture (Matthew 13:41–42; Revelation 14:11). And sin mercilessly enslaves us to death (Romans 6:16–20; Ephesians 2:1). But God. Christ rose to cancel our debt, nailing it to the cross (Colossians 2:14), and to set us free from sin for God. Paul preaches about the resurrection,
“For David . . . fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, but he whom God raised up did not see corruption. Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.” (Acts 13:36–39)
For our forgiveness and freedom, Christ has died, risen, and set us free (Galatians 5:1).
6. God will not only rescue you, but people from all over the world.
Jesus was the promised Messiah of Israel, but he did not die and rise only for ethnic Israel. Again, Paul preaches,
“I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.” (Acts 26:22–23)
Jesus rose to prove God had chosen people from everywhere in the world — not only from Israel, but from Asia, Africa, and America, too. His blood was sufficient to purchase people from every tribe and language and people and nation (Revelation 5:9). His death not only reconciles us to God, but reconciles us to one another across every conceivable barrier and boundary. And his resurrection is powerful enough to hold out hope to people everywhere on earth.
7. No evil can disrupt God’s good plans for you.
The death of Jesus looked like the single greatest defeat God’s people had ever experienced. Instead of ascending to a throne and conquering his enemies, the promised King had been humiliated and crucified. But at the precise moment when it looked like evil had won, God was wielding every ounce of wickedness to accomplish his greatest victory. As Peter preaches to the Jewish officials,
“Jesus of Nazareth . . . delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.” (Acts 2:22–24)
Jesus rose to prove that God is sovereign even over the worst evil in the world (Acts 2:23). In the ultimate act of rebellion and injustice, God was pivoting all of history, with love, to save and satisfy his people. And by raising his Son from the dead on Easter, he promised to work all things, including the hardest and most painful things in your life, for the good of all his sons and daughters.