The Relevance of the Resurrection
Facing a difficult Monday after Easter Sunday is a great test of whether you actually understand the Easter message. When you’re struggling to pay the bills, the kids are still sick, the dryer breaks, and suffering and loss seem more real than Jesus does, how do you respond? You may wonder, “Where did the joy of Easter go? Is the resurrection really all that relevant to my life? How does the message of Easter really change the way I face a job that I hate, a family member who constantly raises objections to my faith, and a habit that I can’t seem to break?” Thankfully the Bible is not silent when it comes to the daily relevance of Jesus’ resurrection. In fact, at least three things should come immediately to mind - Assurance, Power, and Hope.
The resurrection provides assurance that everything Jesus said and did was right and true. Every other religious teacher throughout history has made large claims and given opinions of how to view the world, but no religious teacher except Jesus has made the claim that he is God, is going to die for your sins and physically rise again, and then do it. Jesus is the only one who has risen from the dead never to die again. This should motivate every Christian to stand for Jesus and share Jesus without fear. For example, you’re not going to share some exciting news with the world, if you’re not positive it’s true. The resurrection assures us that Christianity is true. Furthermore, Jesus’ resurrection acts as your receipt. What’s a receipt? It’s proof of payment. In certain stores there are employees at the exits checking for people’s receipts on their way out. What do they want to know? They want to be sure that all the items are paid for. And there’s nothing more frustrating than getting to that door and fumbling around for the receipt you can’t find. Keeping your receipt close at hand gives you assurance as you approach the exit. Likewise, the resurrection of Jesus is your receipt that must be close at hand. For, it is the receipt that all your sins (past, present, and future) have been paid for, and you’re free to live with complete forgiveness. The resurrection is the receipt that Jesus’ check cleared. His payment on the cross for all your sins was approved. So when the voices of accusation and condemnation ask, “What right do you have to walk out in freedom?” Just wave your receipt. Jesus’ resurrection provides assurance that you can trust who he claimed to be and that what he accomplished on the cross is enough.
Can you think of any greater power than the power over death? This is the power that Jesus displayed at the resurrection. But is this great resurrection power somehow available for you today? The Bible’s answer is an emphatic, “Yes!” The Apostle Paul teaches that the same Spirit of power that raised Christ from the dead is now at work within every Christian (see Romans 8:11). This is why in another letter, Paul says that he wants to “Know Christ and the power of his resurrection” (Phil.3:10). This means that he wants to experience more of the Spirit’s power in overcoming sin, because the Spirit of power that raised Christ to physical newness of life is the same Spirit that is now raising every Christian to spiritual newness of life. The resurrection of Jesus reminds you that there's not just pardon for your sins; there's power to overcome them. The power of Christ’s resurrection enables you to die more to lust and rise to love, to die more to bitterness and rise to forgiveness. Because of Jesus’ resurrection, addictions can be overcome, fear can turn into faith, pride can give way to humility, and selfishness can be transformed into radical generosity. This resurrection power becomes a reality as you utilize by faith all the resources that God has given you (spiritual resources and disciplines like prayer, fellowship, reading the Bible, etc.).
The word hope often conveys uncertainty, such as “I sure hope they show up on time.” But the nature of biblical hope is not wishful thinking; it’s the life-shaping certainty in a positive future. In the very beginning of 1 Peter, suffering Christians are reminded that they have a living hope because of Jesus’ resurrection. No matter what is happening, a Christian’s hope is never dead, because Christ is the Christian’s hope, and Christ is alive. But how does this practically work itself out? Paul speaks of Christ’s resurrection as the “first-fruits.” First-fruits are the first of the harvest; they’re a sign of what’s certain to come. The physical resurrection of Jesus is the sign of what’s coming to every Christian and to this world – complete redemption. Another biblical way to view suffering with hope is through the lens of childbirth. Why does Jesus compare the sufferings of this present life to birth pangs? The reason is that the painful contractions of a laboring woman are not signs of coming death, but coming life. The sign of coming life doesn’t minimize the pain; it infuses the pain with life-shaping hope. What this means is that all the natural disasters and problems of life are to be viewed as contractions that remind you of coming life in Jesus. Moments of suffering for the Christian are not death pangs, but birth pangs. The resurrection of Jesus is life-shaping certainty that your future is going to be great and filled with life. So when you confront objections and doubts about the Christian faith, temptations to sin, or situations that seem impossible to overcome, you can say, “For this I have the resurrected Christ.” It turns out that the resurrection of Jesus is extremely relevant Monday through Sunday. It turns out, it’s not just a holiday to celebrate once a year; it’s a message to apply every day of the year.