Jesus Christ is Risen! Praise God! Today is Easter Sunday, and all over the world Christians are celebrating our resurrected Lord and King, Jesus Christ, and his victory over sin and death.
The recognition of Jesus as Lord and his being raised to life by the Spirit of God is imperative to our salvation and witness of righteousness. It is an outright confession (both verbal and behavioral) of obedient faith in the free gift of God’s perfect love in the sacrifice of his son. The scriptures themselves say it this way: “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth one confesses unto salvation. For whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame” (Romans 10:6-11).
As we did on Palm Sunday, we’ve included here a list of scriptures as a kind of meditation devotional – a celebration of the life-giving hope found in God’s word. These scriptures are only a hint of the “priceless inheritance found in Jesus, kept pure and undefiled in heaven, ready to be revealed in the last day” (1 Peter 3:4-5). I encourage you to read these passages with open eyes and ears, open minds and hearts. For God is alive and present, and He will speak.
Matthew 28:5-7 5 Then the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for He is risen as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. 7 Now go quickly and tell His disciples that Jesus of Nazareth is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Luke 24:1-9 1 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came to the tomb bringing spices which they had prepared. 2 There they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. 3 But when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed by these things, suddenly two men stood in front of them in shining garments. 5 Just then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, one of them said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was 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.’” 8 And they remembered His words. John 11:23-27 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 But Martha said to Him, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” 25 Yet Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, yet shall he live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 Martha said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” Acts 3:13-15 13 The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. 14 You denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked for a murderer be granted you instead. 15 You killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To all this we are witnesses. Romans 10:5-11 5 Now Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, saying “The man who does these things shall live by the law.” 6 But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, saying “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach) saying 9 if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth one confesses unto salvation. 11 For the Scriptures say, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” 1 Peter 3:3-5 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead; 4 and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, 12-13, 17-18, 20-26, 54-57 3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 12 Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how is it that so many among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 And those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 20 But as it is, Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 23 And each one in his own order: first Christ, then those who belong to Christ at His coming. 24 Then comes the end, when Christ delivers the kingdom to God the Father, putting an end to all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death itself. 54 Then the saying that is written will take place: Death has been swallowed up in victory. 55 Oh death, where is your victory? Oh death, where is your sting? 56 For the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!
Christ alone is our victory. Christ alone is our hope. And like I said before, these few scriptures are only a hint of all that is offered concerning the victory and hope we have in Christ. Yet to that point, the bible also tells us “the victory that overcomes the world is our faith” (1 John 5:5a). For the aging apostle John, who himself is nearing the end of life, victory is inseparably tethered to belief and vitally important in bringing our hope into proper focus. For in saying “the one who overcomes the world is one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God” (1 John 5:5b), it follows that resurrection victory is held only in the eyes of faith.
Now over a year into global pandemic, I should think we all can agree on two things. First, these present days have, at least to some degree, tested our overall faith in the goodness of God. And second, so much in the world right now aims to steal our joy, deflate our hope, and destroy our resolve. Still, if Easter is to remind us of anything, it ought to remind us that we are seeing only in part while in this life. God is still perfecting us into the likeness of his Son that we might one day see clearly as he does. Was it not Christ alone who endured the horrors of this life for a joy no one else could see except he be born of God? Here we are again with belief.
On Easter Sunday we confess with our lips that Jesus Christ is risen. But we only know this miracle to be fully realized when we allow Jesus Christ to arise in our hearts everyday we live in breathe. This is the miracle of the resurrection. Let us make room for this miracle.