April 16, 1995
by J. David Hoke
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone
who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26)
He is risen! He is risen indeed! That is our joyous confession on this Resurrection Sunday. In fact, that was the confession
of the early Christians on every Sunday. You see, the very existence of Christian worship on Sunday, the first day of the
week, is historical evidence of the resurrection of Christ. For Christians, Sunday is the Lord's Day. And the reason why we
worship on Sunday is because our Lord rose from the dead on the first day of the week. And so, even though we celebrate our
Lord’s resurrection in a special way once a year, every Sunday should be a celebration of the fact that Jesus Christ
is alive. He is risen! He is risen indeed!
All of this testifies to the centrality of the resurrection to the Christian faith. The great apostle Paul said that without
the reality of the resurrection, our preaching was vain and our faith was vain. If Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead,
then He was a fake, and we might as well believe something else. Christ is not who He said He was, and we are still lost in
our sins. The validity of Christianity rises or falls on the veracity of the resurrection. Our faith is based on it. In Romans
1:4, it says that Jesus "was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead." Christianity
rests on a miracle!
Time Magazine reported in its April 10th issue that a poll taken the week before indicated that 69% of Americans believe
in miracles. Indeed, the fastest growing churches in America and the world are Charismatic or Pentecostal congregations that
believe in ongoing "signs and wonders." It seems that people, having seen the futility of rationalism and materialism
are becoming more open to the supernatural. This is good news for a faith that rests upon the foundation of the supernatural.
Time also reported an ironic development:
Yet just when the faithful are so eager to embrace the possibility of miracles in everyday life, prominent American theologians
are working furiously to disprove the miracles in the Bible. Last month, just in time for Lent, the rebel scholars of the
self-appointed Bible tribunal called the Jesus Seminar gathered once again, this time to vote on the most explosive question
of Christian faith: Did Jesus literally rise from the dead? That such a vote would even take place says a lot about current
Bible scholarship; that the result, by an overwhelming majority, was to announce, No, he did not, shows clearly the chasm
that has opened between some professors of Scripture and the true-believing flock.
But Christ's resurrection from the dead is significant for the believer for several important reasons. Those reasons revolve
not only around proving the veracity of Christianity but also around the implications of His resurrection for all humanity.
His resurrection not only says something about Him; it also says something about the possibilities for all of us. Paul, writing
in Philippians 3:10, virtually shouts the desire of his heart: "That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection."
It was Paul's earnest desire to be a partaker of the resurrection power of Jesus Christ. That was one of the deepest desires
of his heart. It should be our desire as well. Paul knew that to know Christ was supreme. He also knew that to know Christ
was to be filled with a special kind of power. It is the power of His resurrection. Because of Christ’s resurrection,
resurrection power is a possibility for us. We can tap into the greatest source of power in the entire universe.
In this passage of Scripture in John, we see a very important declaration made by Jesus Himself. It is a declaration of
Jesus about Himself. He declares that He is the resurrection. In other words, He is resurrection power. It is important to
note that He did not say that He has resurrection power, but that He is resurrection power. He said, "I am the resurrection
and the life." Resurrection power centers in Jesus Christ.
Now, the situation in which this statement was made was a conversation Jesus was having with Martha, the sister of Lazarus.
Lazarus had died. Word had been sent to Jesus Christ while Lazarus was still sick, but Jesus had delayed His coming. Now Lazarus
had been in the grave for four days. Jesus had arrived on the scene and Martha had rushed out to meet Him. She engaged Him
in a conversation in which she essentially told Him He was too late. She said, in verse 21, "Lord, if You had been here,
my brother would not have died." Jesus attempted to redirect her attitude from one of despair to one of hope by saying,
in verse 23, "Your brother shall rise again." Martha, however, assumed Jesus was referring to the resurrection of
the dead on the last day. It is as this point that Jesus tells her that He is the resurrection and the life. That statement
would come to have a tremendous meaning to Martha and Mary when Jesus would shortly raise Lazarus from the dead. They would
know in a very personal way the power of the resurrection life of Christ. But there is a much wider application to what Jesus
said. That statement also has significance and eternal meaning for all of humanity.
What does it mean that Jesus is the resurrection? What does Christ's resurrection power mean for you? Let's focus on the
implications of Christ's resurrection power for us.
The first thing we need to see is that if Jesus is the resurrection, it means that He lives. Jesus Christ is alive. The
resurrection power of Jesus Christ means that the chains of death and the grave could not hold Him.
Because of our sin, the sinless Son of God was nailed to a cruel cross. He hung there, between heaven and earth, suffering
for the sins of human-kind. Hanging there, He paid the penalty for the transgressions of lost multitudes. Finally, He committed
His Spirit to the Father and bowed His head in death. The death that Christ died was a real death. The death that He died
was a necessary death. His death testified to the gravity of human sin. The seriousness of our sin hung Christ on the Cross.
The gravity of our sin meant that He must do more than suffer ; He must die! And so, He did.
After Christ had been confirmed dead, the kind hands of His followers laid Him in the tomb. A large boulder was rolled
against the mouth of the tomb and it was sealed by Rome. Roman guards were placed there at the request of the Jewish leaders.
But that tomb could not hold such a one as Jesus. This was no ordinary man who lay there. This was the resurrection Himself.
And so, on the third day, according to the word of God, Jesus Christ rose from the dead. He broke the chains of death. He
defeated the power of hell. And from that tomb He came forth in victory and in power. And so, God sent an angel to roll away
the stone — not to let Jesus out, but to let others in to see. The empty tomb stands forever as the greatest monument
to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Critics have scoffed at the idea of Christ's resurrection but none have been
able to produce the body of Christ. We have with us the bodies of all the other great political and religious leaders. But
Christ's body is not here. It's not anywhere to be found, for He is risen as He said.
Resurrection power means that Christ is alive. And because Christ is alive, we know that He is who He said He was. He
is the victorious Son of the Living God. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is Life itself. And He is alive! There
were at least ten post-resurrection appearances of Christ. These are eye-witness accounts of people who saw Christ after His
resurrection. The resurrection of Christ is probably one of the most historically attested fact to have ever occurred. It
is not merely a line in a creed. It is real. He lives!
Not only does resurrection power mean that Jesus lives, it also means that we live. "I am the resurrection and the
life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies."
Is there life after death? That has always been a burning question for any thinking person. Some, keenly aware of the
deterioration of the quality of life in our society have cynically posed the question in a different way. They would ask,
"Is there life after birth?" The quality of life and its continuance has always been of vital interest to humankind.
Nobody wants life to be over at death. The thought that these few short years on earth is all we have is terribly frightening
indeed. What a horrible thought! And those idiot ideas of reincarnation are no less dismal. To think that you are condemned
to return as someone else with no memory and consciousness of who you are now is like never having lived at all. If you can't
continue as the real person you are, what good is coming back? No, I want to continue to live, as me! I do not want death
to end my existence. I want to live on. And so do you.
The truth of the power of Christ's resurrection is that believers also rise again. Jesus said that even if we die, we
will live. In other words, just as He came forth from that grave, so also will we come forth from our graves in that great
resurrection morning. It is the destiny of all of God's children to come forth from death to new live in His eternal kingdom.
Christ led the way. And because He is the resurrection, those of us who are in Him shall come forth as well. Because He lives,
we shall live also.
But notice the qualification put on this: For us to be partakers of this promise, we must be believers in Him. Jesus said,
"He who believes in Me shall live." Only those who are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ shall enjoy the full force
of this promise. The resurrection power of Christ is at work in those who put their faith in Him.
We Live Forever
The resurrection power of Jesus means that He lives; it means that we live; but it also means that we live forever. "And
everyone who lives and believe in Me shall never die." Not only did Jesus promise the believer that he would be raised
from the dead, Jesus promises all of us that we shall never die again.
You see, both the righteous and the unrighteous, the believers and the non-believers shall be raised from the dead. But
the Bible teaches that only the righteous shall be raised to eternal life. The unrighteous non-believer shall be raised to
undergo the second death, which is eternity in hell. What Jesus has in view here is the quality of resurrection life. Only
those who believe in Jesus shall experience real life in the resurrection. The unbeliever will experience an existence of
torment and suffering. That is what the Scripture calls the Second Death. The believer is born twice and dies only once; the
unbeliever is born only once and dies twice.
Eternal life means that we will not only live forever, but that we will live forever in the joys of heaven. Eternal life
has to do with both the quantity of life and the quality of life. We will live everlastingly.
When we've been there ten-thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We've no less days to sing God's praise,
Than when we first begun.
Yes we will live forever, but we will live in joyous bliss forever. We will live in His presence forever to enjoy the
glories of the Lord. There we will never know pain or sorrow, sickness or death. There we will be united again with loved
ones who have preceded us, never to be apart again. There we will be free from the limitations of this finite, frail, sin
ridden human body as we are changed in the twinkling of an eye. This mortal will put on immortality.
What a day that will be,
when my Jesus I shall see,
When I look upon His face,
the one who saved me by His grace,
When He takes me by the hand,
and leads me to the promised land,
What a day, glorious day, that will be.
And so, the promise of Jesus to us is that we will live forever. When we are raised from the dead, we are raised to eternal
life. Our destiny in Christ is secure forever. Resurrection power means that we live forever.
Christ's resurrection power works in us even now. When Paul testified to his desire to know Christ and the power of His
resurrection, he wasn't merely speaking about eternity future; he was speaking about living today. Because Jesus has been
raised from the dead, He is alive today to live within each one of us. Now, there are many of us with resurrection life residing
in our very being. You see, Jesus didn't just say that He was the resurrection. He said He was and is the life. The life that
is resident in us in the person of Jesus is the life that gives us the power to rise again.
But it is also the life that conforms us to His image in the here and now. It is the life which makes us the salt of the
earth and the light of the world. It is the life that gives us the power to manifest Jesus to the watching world. It is the
life which gives us the capacity to live victoriously in the midst of a secular society.
The resurrection power centers in the person of Jesus Christ. He is alive because of that resurrection power. And because
He lives, we live as well. But we live in our present situation by the power of His life living within us. He is both our
future hope and our present strength. He has already given us eternal life. We merely have the privilege of beginning to live
it out now.
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone
who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?"
Copyright © 1995 J. David Hoke. This data file is the sole property of the copyright holder and may be copied only in
its entirety for circulation freely without charge. All copies of this data file must contain the above copyright notice.