Resurrection was a key word of the early church. Jesus’ breakout from the tomb stood at the heart of that church’s doctrine. They did not greet each other with “Happy Easter!” Rather, they cried “Christ is Risen!” They were not proclaiming a creed. They were announcing the fact that God is God, not of the dead, but of the living.
Today we celebrate that great Event that happened almost 2,000 years ago. Those first disciples did not try to explain the Resurrection—they just went everywhere proclaiming the Good News: “He Is Risen!” The New Testament keeps repeating that our faith depends on whether Jesus managed to conquer death. If He had not done so, according to the apostle Paul, Christians were still unforgiven, sermons were lies, eternal hope was a hoax, and the church was the most wretched of institutions (1 Corinthians 15:12-19).
But Jesus did manage it! The angel had thrust away the grave stone and sat on it as if challenging death to put it back! The tomb stood open-mouthed. And because Jesus rose, it was as if some bright angel stood over every believer’s grave.
The marvelous truth of the resurrection is that it was not only an event of the past—it is an event of the future! Paul said, “If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies.” (Romans 8:11) Jesus’ open grave is a silent prophecy that all God’s people will outwit death in Him. It is because of His resurrection that all believers will be raised at Christ’s coming (1 Corinthians 15:20-23).
However, for those first Christians, the Resurrection meant more than mighty happenings in the past and future. It held a vast present significance—a great now meaning. It was not only something preached, but something lived. Christians had the resurrection in their hearts. They walked in “newness of life.” The Church is a Resurrection community, reflecting the eternal aliveness of her Lord.
The Resurrection is also a source of spiritual energy for the believer. The apostle Paul, dismissed his assets, considering them as “junk” in order that he might experience the power of Christ’s resurrection (Philippians 3:10). The Resurrection is more than a doctrine; it is force in the world. Luke, in His account of the early church, gives this report: “With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all” (Acts 4:33).
God is the God of the Resurrection; and the Church testifies to that Resurrection. The testimony is not only to the great things that God has done in the past, or of the great things He will do in the future, but to the things He does in the present through those who walk in view of the open tomb.
When believers begin to understand a little of the supernatural power manifested in the Resurrection of Christ, we will want to pray as Paul did, “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection” (Philippians 3:10).