“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3)
During His earthly ministry, Jesus said several times that He would be killed and rise again. “Jesus said unto them [His disciples], The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again.” The verse goes on to say, “And they were exceeding sorry” (Matthew 17:22-23). Why were the disciples sorry at what Jesus said? Maybe they caught the part about Jesus being killed, but not the part about Him rising again.
Jesus’ enemies caught the “rising again” part, though. That’s why they told Pontius Pilate after He was crucified, “..Sir, we remember that deceiver said, while ye was yet alive, After three days I will rise again” (Matthew 27:63). They didn’t believe He’d really rise again, though, so they told Pontius Pilate, “Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first” (Matthew 27:64). They thought Jesus’ disciples would steal His body and tell people that He rose from the dead. Jesus had already troubled their phony religious racket enough with His miracles and words of rebuke against them. Now that they’d had Him crucified on false charges, they wanted to go back to business as usual. So they got Pilate to provide a unit of soldiers to guard the tomb.
The third day, though, something happened that they didn’t expect: Jesus rose again! “And the angel answered and said unto the women [Jesus’ followers], Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said” (Matthew 28:5-6). “And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him” (Matthew 28:9). Ironically, the soldiers at the tomb—the ones Jesus’ enemies had asked for—ended up witnessing the truth of Jesus’ resurrection.
Some of the soldiers told the chief priests what happened. Here’s what the chief priests did: “And when they [the chief priests] were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you” (Matthew 28:12-14). They could bribe the soldiers to keep quiet, but the word still got out: Jesus rose from the dead! “And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 4:33).
Jesus’ resurrection proves that He is God the Son and that His death satisfied God’s holy justice against sin, and that He can forgive sins. Jesus ascended into heaven, but He is still alive and real, just as He was back then! “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen” (Revelation 1:18). As our verse says, Jesus’ resurrection gives us a “lively” hope, a true hope, a sure hope, for eternity in heaven. Jesus still forgives sins, saves souls, and changes lives today for those who will receive Him as Saviour.
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Brian Miller 4/13/2017
Cleveland Baptist Church | 4431 Tiedeman Road, Brooklyn, Ohio 44144 | 216.671.2822