What is resurrection? It seems like a simple enough question, but it’s worth asking. I was struck again this past weekend by the almost singular meaning resurrection has for most people—the empty tomb. Of course I believe in the actual, bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, but resurrection is so much more.
We should hear the word resurrection, not as a singular trumpet blast, but as a full-scale Wagner opera. There is just so much going on here.
I’m thinking of verses like Acts 13:33, 1 Peter 1:3, or 1 Corinthians 15:45. These verses present the intrinsic, inner-workings of resurrection in God’s eternal purpose.
- “…You are My Son; this day have I begotten You.”
- “….who according to His great mercy has regenerated us unto a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
- “…the last Adam became a life-giving Spirit.”
The action in these three verses (begotten, regenerated, became) is dynamic and amounts to a fulfillment of God’s eternal purpose.
These verses show that without resurrection, not only would we still be in our sins (1 Cor. 15:17), but there would be no Head of the Body of Christ, no members of the Body of Christ, and no essence of the Body of Christ. Resurrection produces the Body of Christ, in total.
I’m always a little shocked how much people love John 15:15, “No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends…” As great as it is to be a friend of Jesus, through His resurrection we have become His brothers! John 20:17 says, “Go to My brothers and say to them, I ascend to My Father and your Father.” This is the first time Jesus ever calls His disciples brothers, and it is because of what happened in His resurrection—the divine life was imparted into them.
Clearly, something more than an empty tomb is going on here.
As a guy, it’s pretty easy for me to be content with doctrinal rigor, clear-cut facts, and logical arguments. “Let’s see. Rolled away stone, folded handkerchief, missing body of Jesus… yes indeed He is risen.” Mary, however, was seeking, not resurrection as an event, but as a Person. When Peter and John ran off, she lingered. She got Mr. Resurrection Himself and the monumental revelation of what had happened. Jesus appears in the freshness of His resurrection to His lovers. It’s the same today.
The incident in John 20 caused me to ask whether I care for the facts of an empty tomb or for securing a personal touch with the resurrected Lord Himself.
Yes the tomb is empty, but this is hardly the gamut of revelation presented in the New Testament. Actually, in the entire Bible there is movement toward resurrection, from Genesis 1:9 to Revelation 21:17. It is one of the dominant themes that ties the entire Bible together.
You can easily remember the basics of resurrection by remembering these 6 ‘p’ words.
A past event
“For I delivered to you, first of all, that which also I received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He has been raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” –1 Cor. 15:3-4
A promise for the future
“Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming in which all in the tombs will hear His voice and will come forth: those who have done good, to the resurrection of life; and those who have practiced evil, to the resurrection of judgment.” –John 5:28-29
A present process
“Always bearing about in the body the putting to death of Jesus that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who are alive are always being delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death operates in us, but life in you… knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will make us stand before Him with you… Therefore we do not lose heart; but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.” –2 Cor. 4:10-12, 14, 16
“But the spiritual is not first but the soulish, then the spiritual.” –1 Cor. 15:46
“Indeed we ourselves had the response of death in ourselves, that we should not base our confidence on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” –2 Cor. 1:9
“To know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” –Phil. 3:10
“Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes into Me, even if he should die, shall live.” –John 11:25