All across the Christian centuries, billions have rejoiced in the glorious resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And all true believers today rejoice in reading the angel’s announcement to the two Marys when they visited the empty tomb of Jesus.
Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.
Matthew 28:5-7, NKJV
The first thing Jesus had to do after His resurrection was convince those who had believed in Him that He really was alive again. Many times Jesus had emphasized to His disciples that it was the will of the Father that He die for the sins of all who would believe in Him but that He would be raised from the dead. He had also repeatedly warned the Jews that their rejection of Him and His ensuing death would result in the judgment of God upon their nation and their city of Jerusalem. He had come to His own, and they had not received Him.
In the Gospel of Luke we have a special emphasis on both the birth and the resurrection of Jesus. The meaning of each is to be found not simply in the events themselves but in the clearly emphasized interpretation given them in the Scriptures. Luke revealed the real entrance of God into human history through the birth of His Son Jesus Christ the Messiah, born of a woman. He wanted to show the real bodily birth and bodily death of Jesus.
Of course, it is understood that there are three crucial events in the history of salvation for the human race—the birth, the death, and the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. These are clearly shown in the special treatment of all four Gospels and throughout the New Testament epistles. It was certainly a central task of the early Church to bear witness to these events and especially to Christ’s resurrection.We have to wonder about the surprise of Jesus’ followers at His resurrection. They had all heard Him say that He would rise again. Perhaps the answer can be found in their grief over His rejection, abuse, and unjust condemnation to crucifixion. Maybe these horrible actions closed their minds to everything except their pain and their fear in considering their lost hope.
Even on that first Sunday morning of His resurrection, there were those who had come to perform the belated embalming of His precious dead body. And what about that stone that obstructed their way to the tomb? “Who will roll away the stone for us from the door of the tomb?” the women wanted to know. That stone was a gravestone—a symbol of all of our gravestones. As someone has said, “There’s always a terrible finality about gravestones.” But no! For the believer who dies in Jesus Christ, eternal life is the definite finality. No gravestone is ever final with anyone who has died in the faith of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! We have His promise on this: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.” (John 11:25, NKJV)
The shining brilliance of the two angels at the empty tomb stands in contrast to the darkness of the hour of Jesus’ betrayal, His suffering, and His death. The mission of the angels was to proclaim the resurrection of Jesus as He Himself had foretold it. Those of us who read the Gospels will realize that at Jesus’ transfiguration on the mountain (Luke 9:28-36) was a prefiguration of His resurrection. Remember, Jesus was accompanied by two men who interpreted His coming death in accordance with the Scriptures. These two men were Moses and Elijah—Moses representing the Law and Elijah, the prophets. Very likely these were the same two angels who appeared at the Mount of Olives immediately after Jesus had ascended to the Father.
Having paid the debt of sin for all true believers and having risen from the grave, Jesus completed His orders to His followers to go back into the city and start a prayer meeting for the coming Holy Spirit who would baptize them “with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Jesus was then bent on launching the global Gospel enterprise for gathering His bride. Let us never forget His declared purpose—“I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!” (Luke 12:49, NKJV)
But there is still the unfinished business for the Church of Jesus Christ! As we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ in the early part of our 21st century, may the Holy Spirit increase the passionate faith in every part of our Rocky Mountain District to believe God for an opening of the Heavens on all of us to believe God for the revival in our churches that will result in a mighty harvest of souls! The hour is late, but “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8, NKJV) What He did at Pentecost, He can do again today to rekindle the fires in the hearts of the saints and reap a harvest of souls to prepare His bride for His return!
Christ is risen indeed! He is reviving indeed! He is returning indeed!