Based on Biblical Text: Matthew 28:6a KJV
He is not here: for he is risen, as he said.
Easter Sunday is not far away. We will celebrate the empty tomb signifying that Christ got up just like He said He would.
A question for us is: Do you believe in the Resurrection? Somebody may be thinking that is a silly question for a pastor to ask his congregation. Indulge me for just a few moments?
Truthfully, when you leave this earthly house of your tabernacle, when it is dissolved into ashes and dust, do you really believe that your soul will take up residence in the presence of God?
I contend that concept represents one of the foundational truths of our faith! Does it not? What purpose would there be to live a penitent life, serving a God we have not seen, if in the end we go nowhere? Our saintly journey here on earth is predicated on the belief that our Salvation, as witnessed by our obedience, will one day reunite us with God our Father. It is the reason we celebrate Jesus. We understand, by faith, without Jesus’ payment for our sins, we could never be enjoined to God.
The truth is the religious rulers in biblical times, secretly denied the resurrection altogether. They believed that the body and the soul perished at the same time. That is why they were only concerned, and seemingly obsessed, with the Mosaic Law. And they kept their disbelief in the resurrection to themselves. Only the highest-ranking religionists of that day shared this belief or should we say, lack of belief.
To be fair to the religious leaders then, and the scientists and philosophers of this present age for that matter we must admit that the concept of the resurrection is hard to comprehend. It is indeed a theological supposition that even the most noted scholars have debated throughout the ages. Ancient skeptics are no different from many modern-day skeptics. Their view of the resurrection life, which they rejected, was that it would be much like this present life. But Jesus says, the present age is very different from the Age to come.
Jesus goes on to say, “Now that the dead are raised, even Moses shewed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him.”
The religious rulers in biblical times claimed that the teachings of Moses did not support the concept of a resurrection. But Jesus appeals directly to Moses. If the Lord is indeed the God of the patriarchs, the religious leaders should have known that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were still alive even though those words were spoken several hundred years after Jacob had died. So, Jesus says, “He is the God of the living, not of the dead, for to Him all are alive.”
I have a feeling that heaven is going to be so much more exciting than anything we experience here. Here and now, our lives are in continuity with all those who have passed on before. I am talking about Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Peter, James, John, Mary, Martha, Paul. God is the God of the living. To him all these are alive.
Please notice that Jesus speaks about “the men and women who are worthy to rise from death and live in the age to come” The Thessalonian Christians were concerned because believers had died and Jesus had not yet returned. So Paul wrote to them, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonian 4.16-17). Again we are reminded, “those who died believing in Christ.”
Paul is emphasizing that we who now believe in Christ are linked to believers who have died. We are alive, but, beyond the grave, they are alive too. They are, in fact, in the presence of God. He is the God of the living as well as the God of those who are alive in Christ!
We are challenged to hear the words of the patriarchs of the bible as they spring from the Holy Writ in confirmation to the instruction given by the Lord to the religious leaders.
For example, we find Job confessing his belief in the resurrection when he said, “And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold” (Job 19:26-27). David said, “But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me” (Psalm 49:15). Ezekiel prophesied to the dry bones in the desert (Ezekiel 37:7). The prophet Isaiah said, “[God] will swallow up death in victory” (Isaiah 25:8) Daniel said, “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:2). Each of these men of God confessed their belief in the resurrection.
John said in his revelation concerning the resurrection, “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.”
We are not worthy to rise from death and live in the ages to come with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But thanks be to God, it was the resurrection of Jesus Christ that proved the validity and infallibility of God’s holy promises confirming that through Christ, we shall inherit eternal life.
It was Jesus’ resurrection that substantiated the fulfillment and the completion of God’s plan of salvation. It revealed the efficiency and the sufficiency of His blood to atone for sin. Jesus’ resurrection provided and implanted hope within our hearts in regards to death and the future. His resurrection was and is important simply because our resurrection is important! It is the hope of all the saints of God!