Christianity rises or falls upon the resurrection. “But God raised [Jesus] from the dead” (Acts 13.30). The fact that Jesus remained in the tomb for three days proved that He died indeed. The fact that He was seen for many days by those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem proved that He indeed is risen (Acts 13.31). Those people who saw Him are witnesses to Christ. The many voices speaking as one voice concerning the resurrection of Jesus Christ provide testimony that cannot be refuted.
Paul and the other apostles declared glad tidings, a promise which was made to the fathers (Acts 13.32). The promise to which Paul referred concerns the coming of Messiah. There are many passages of Scripture in the Old Testament which assured the children of Israel of Messiah’s coming. These begin with Genesis 3.15:
Genesis 3:15 (NKJV) — 15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” And they end with Malachi 3.1 simple statement: “Behold, He is coming.”
But clearly three particular verses are in view in Paul’s first recorded sermon:
- Psalm 2:7 (NKJV) — 7 “I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.”
- Isaiah 55:3 (NKJV) — 3 Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you— The sure mercies of David.
- Psalm 16:10 (NKJV) — 10 For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
Paul quotes Psalm 2.2: “You are My Son, today I have begotten You.” God the Father raised up the Lord Jesus Christ, His Son, to be Savior. He is risen from the dead to provide new life, eternal life to all who will believe on Him. Paul applies the rich prophecy of Isaiah 55.3 to the Lord Jesus. Jesus will not return to corruption. God has said, “I will give you the sure mercies of David” (Acts 13.34).
It is clear what the Lord meant in Psalm 2.2: “You are My Son, today I have begotten You.” Jesus is the Messiah who triumphed over the grace. He was exalted to God the Father’s right hand. How is He begotten on the day of His resurrection? He is the only One of His kind …the resurrected Christ, the first-fruits of those who sleep. His resurrection brings Him to new life by the power of God. Now it is possible to share together with Him in this eternal quality of life.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a source of joy for us for at least three reasons:
Past Hope: The death of our Savior was not in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:14 (NKJV) — 14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.
1 Corinthians 15:17–18 (NKJV) — 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
But Christ is risen! Therefore we have been made the righteousness of God thanks to Him. The resurrection of Jesus Christ proved that He satisfied the wrath and the justice of God in full (the meaning of propitiation). Jesus was delivered up because of our offenses; He was raised because of (or with a view toward) our justification (Romans 4.25). “Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us” (Romans 8.34).
Present Hope: The power of our Savior is all-sufficient.
He cannot be the Messiah or reign at the right hand of God if He is still in the grave. If He is in the grave, it is folly and futility to call upon Him for help. But He said to His disciples…
John 10:17–18 (NKJV) — 17 “…My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”
Colossians 2:15 (NKJV) — 15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.
“Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior” (Acts 5.31). He is “declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1.4). “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7.25). The power of our Savior is sufficient to help right now because it is resurrection power! That is why we long to “know Him and the power of His resurrection” (Philippians 3.10)! If we can believe, “all things are possible to him who believes” (Mark 9.23).
Future Hope: The resurrection of our Savior will be our own.
Obviously if the resurrection of Jesus Christ had not occurred, we would have no future hope of our own resurrection. But He is risen; therefore, Christians will rise too. He is the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep (1 Corinthians 15.20). That is why Jesus could say:
John 14:2–3 (NKJV) — 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you (body and soul) to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
1 Corinthians 15:53–55 (NKJV) — 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?”
John 14:19 (NKJV) — 19 A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also.
The promises of the resurrection are for all those who believe: Old Testament and New Testament saints alike. When we read our Old Testament Scriptures, it is good to remember that many of the promises are literally made to Israel. Still, they are not exclusively for Israel. We are to embrace them as well. We too are children of God. It is in this way that the resurrection is indelibly written throughout the Old Testament Scriptures through the promises of the coming Messiah.
I believe God delights in a church that holds high the resurrected Christ. I believe God delights in a church that preaches the Gospel. We may be viewed as those who stand in the way of progress and open sin, but we are the source of glad tidings which we declare to all men. Our Savior was crucified, buried, and risen from the dead! Let us forsake our sin and look to Him as the source of all joy and resurrection power in this life. Let us not be ashamed at His coming coronation. Let us be watching and waiting expectantly as we submit to His authority even now.