“Men and brethren, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to you the word of this salvation has been sent. 27 For those who dwell in Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they did not know Him, nor even the voices of the Prophets which are read every Sabbath, have fulfilled them in condemning Him. 28 And though they found no cause for death in Him, they asked Pilate that He should be put to death. 29 Now when they had fulfilled all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb. 30 But God raised Him from the dead. 31 He was seen for many days by those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses to the people. 32 And we declare to you glad tidings—that promise which was made to the fathers. 33 God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm:
‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.’
34 And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He has spoken thus:
‘I will give you the sure mercies of David.’
35 Therefore He also says in another Psalm:
‘You will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption.’
36 “For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption; 37 but He whom God raised up saw no corruption. 38 Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; 39 and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses. 40 Beware therefore, lest what has been spoken in the prophets come upon you:
41 ‘Behold, you despisers,
Marvel and perish!
For I work a work in your days,
A work which you will by no means believe,
Though one were to declare it to you’ ” (Acts 13.26-41).
Christianity rises and falls upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Historically, nothing is more certain than the fact that the Jewish people asked Pontius Pilate permission to put Jesus Christ to death. “They took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb” (Acts 13.29). He was certainly dead, “but God raised Him from the dead” (Acts 13.30). But how can we be so certain? The resurrected Christ “was seen for many days by those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses to the people” (Acts 13.31). The many voices spoke as one voice concerning the resurrection of Jesus Christ to provide testimony that cannot be refuted. Many have tried and failed. This historic event stands.
Paul and the other apostles declared the glad tidings of the resurrection; they declared resurrection joy! It was “that promise which was made to the fathers” (Acts 13.32). What promise? I believe it is the promise of the coming Messiah. Many, many passages in the OT assured Israel of His coming. The Messiah is mentioned as the one who would bruise the serpent’s head at the beginning of the OT (Genesis 3.15) and the One who would come at the end of the OT (Malachi 3.1). However, Paul clearly had three specific OT texts in mind when declaring resurrection joy:
Psalm 2:7 – I will declare the decree: the Lord has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You.
Isaiah 55:3 – 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 – For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
First, how are we to understand the use of the word begotten in our text? “You are My Son, today I have begotten You.” Jesus is the begotten Son, the Messiah who triumphed through grace. He ascended to the right hand of God the Father. He is God the Son. So, how is He begotten on the day of His resurrection? I believe His resurrection demonstrates that He is the only One of His kind. He is the resurrected Christ with a resurrected and glorified body. He is the first-fruits of those who sleep. Therefore, when Jesus arose, He arose to new life from certain death by the power of God the Father. He made it possible for us to share together with Him in this eternal quality of life. He also made it possible for us to rise and be with Him.
Second, what are “the sure mercies of David” (Isaiah 55.3)? The sure mercies of David include the fact that God would establish upon the throne of David his descendant and his Lord, Jesus Christ the Messiah. Also included in the sure mercies of David is the full deliverance of Israel during the yet future Millennial Kingdom. But before the Kingdom is established, the King must suffer and die for redemption. But then how could the prophecy of a coming King be fulfilled? This is the tie to the resurrection. The King must rise from the dead! These are the sure mercies of David!
Third, 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 Psalm 16.10 to the Lord Jesus. Jesus would not see nor will He return to corruption. The promises of a coming Messiah in the OT are inextricably linked to His resurrection in the NT. Thus, this teaching from Scripture is a source of great joy…
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a source of joy for at least three reasons:
- The Resurrection is the Reason of Past Hope: The resurrection demonstrates that the death of Jesus was not in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:14 — And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.
1 Corinthians 15:17–18 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 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 (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).
The death of Jesus was not in vain. Since He died for our sins and then conquered death through His resurrection, we are forgiven and stand complete in Him. There is no condemnation for us. We shall never face the wrath of God – not in this life nor in the life to come. As Christians we received this hope (confident expectation) at a point in time in the past. The moment we believed on Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection is the moment we were made the righteousness of God in Him!
- The Resurrection is the Reason for Present Hope: The resurrection demonstrates that the power of Jesus is unsurpassed.
Jesus cannot be the Messiah nor 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 “…My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 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 — 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.” He is “declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Acts 5.31; 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 mighty and unsurpassed. It is the power that saves our eternal souls. But it is the same power summoned to help us right now in the present, 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.” Our hope right now rests in the power of the resurrected Christ to deliver us from every trial, temptation, and tragedy!
- The Resurrection is the Reason for Future Hope: The resurrection demonstrates that those in Jesus will also rise.
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, “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. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14.2-3). Paul wrote in the Resurrection Chapter…
1 Corinthians 15:53–55 — For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 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. O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” Jesus made it simple and clear in John 14.19…
John 14:19 — A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also.
What could bring more joy than that future hope?!
The promises of the resurrection are for all those who believe: OT and NT believer alike. When we read our OT 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 children of God as well.
I believe God delights in a church that holds high the resurrected Christ. I believe God delights in a church that preaches the Gospel (the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God the Son). We may be viewed as those who stand in the way of progress and hinder 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.