This weekend we celebrate Easter. Almost every church is going to address the resurrection in some fashion. People who typically do not go to church will at least visit church on Easter. Churches will be full as the family gets together. Overall, it is typically a family-oriented day where people get together in a celebratory fashion with specialty food. There will be talk about Christ and church most likely, and of course, there will be debates on politics at some point. But After church, people typically say, “He is risen” and the response is always, “He is risen indeed.” That is truly a fact and there is nothing wrong with stating it, but what happens to the resurrection after Easter? Unfortunately, I fear that we often minimize the resurrection or grow complacent about it. It seems we are many times just eager for the church sermon to be over to get to our lunches as quickly as possible. Typically people will settle with the understanding that the resurrection shows that Jesus Christ was God because only God can bring people back to life, and there is truth to that. But is that it?
There is a lot to be said about understanding the resurrection biblically and not complacently, but the clearest starting point is 1 Corinthians 15:17-19,
“And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.”
Without the resurrection, the church would be nonexistent and the sacrificial laws from Leviticus would still be in effect. Far more drastic is that Gentiles and Jews would still be separated and without hope (Eph 2:11-12). So without the resurrection there is no certainty, and our faith would be futile which means as believers, we would have no hope. Without the resurrection, our sins would not be paid for, and we would still be dead in our sins before a holy God (Rom 6:23 Eph 2:1 Lev 19:2). Remember, our sins are like filthy rags before God (Isa 64:6), Jesus came and died for our sins (1 Cor 15:3-5), and it pleased God to crush Jesus as a payment for sins (Isa 53:10, Lev 17:11, Rom 6:23, Heb 9:22). The Old Testament is rich in the prophecies for the coming Messiah (Gen 3:15, Ps 8:5-6, 22, 40:6-8, Isa 7:14, Hos 11:1 Mic 5:2 just to name a few). Judaism rightly understood, before Christ, the remission of sins was by faith that God would cover their sins through the shedding of blood of the lambs while being a fuzzy image of the true Lamb who would be slain for all peoples (Gen 3, Lev 17:11, Is 42:1-4). Essentially, the Old Testament was the foundation that was anticipating the true Lamb, the Messiah (Isa 9:6). But what happened? The Jews grew complacent, living in the world, being of the world, and living for self while proclaiming that they lived for God (Mal 1-4). The danger of complacency is that it blurs faith with desires (Gal 5:21). A complacent view of Scripture will be blurred by the desire to fulfill self. Christ calls for the full denial of self and a full commitment to Christ (Lk 9:23). It is only by the resurrection that provides a dead man the ability to deny self and live for Christ (Eze 36, Jn 1:9, 16:13-16, 1 Cor 2:14-16, 4:5). A dead man cannot live for Christ, and without Christ we are all dead men (Rom 8:7, Eph 2:1). To live for self is to live for death. To die to self, is to live for Christ (Phil 1:21). Living for Christ is made possible by the resurrection where when the believer confesses and repents of their sins, they are justified by God. The cross is the instrument in which God crushed His Son in order to pay the debt that we incurred (Isa 53:10). Christ who knew no sin was made sin for us so that we could be called children of God by the covering of His blood, making us righteous (2 Cor 5:21). This is the great exchange, otherwise known as imputation, where the sins of the sinner are given to Christ and the righteousness of Christ is given to the one who has faith (Zec 3, Rom 4:3-5, 2 Cor 5:21).
There is so much that can be said about the resurrection, but to make this brief, let me end with this: do not become complacent with the resurrection. We, as the redeemed church, must live in awe of our Redeemer. The Jews, before Christ, were supposed to be looking forward to the coming of the Lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world, but they lost sight of the coming King of kings. If you are in Christ, then your sins are forgiven and you are no longer under the wrath of God; that is something that we should rejoice in every day. Do not grow accustom to the grace that God has granted you. Live by renewed faith every day, and grow closer to our Savior. As the church, we not only should be living in awe of Christ, but we are also to live in anticipation of Christ. Just like the Jews were supposed to be looking forward to the Messiah, the first coming. Because of Christ and His resurrection, we do not have hope in flesh and blood or in sacrificial offerings, but we have everlasting hope in the Good Shepherd. We, as the church, should be living in anticipation and preparation for the second coming of Christ. We must not grow complacent living for this world, distracted by the things of this world that will fade, but striving for glory that is unfading and that is Christ. Whether we live for Christ or die for Christ, if we are Christ’s, then we have this true and unwavering hope. Do not grow complacent with the resurrection, but grow in anticipation for Christ.