52 Major Stories of the Bible - Lesson 39

Jesus' Death and Resurrection

The death and resurrection of Jesus is the culmination of not only Jesus' life but of all history to that point. Jesus died on the cross so that we can be friends of God, and he was shown to have conquered death by his resurrection from the grave. The temple curtain, which symbolized the separation between God and people, was torn in two, from the top to the bottom, and we can now live in direct relationship with God.

Bill Mounce
52 Major Stories of the Bible
Lesson 39
Watching Now
Jesus' Death and Resurrection

I. History is Heading Toward the Death and Resurrection

II. Death and Resurrection

III. What Does Resurrection Life Look Like?

IV. Question of Easter: Are you ready?

  • Genesis 1 is the foundational chapter for the entire Bible. It not only tells us how everything started, but it establishes the basic teaching on who God is and who we are in relationship to him.

  • On the sixth day of creation we learn that people are the apex of creation, stamped with the image of God. This is the source of human dignity, and it is why we pursue spiritual growth, so we will look more like him.

  • Genesis 3 describes how Adam and Eve sinned, how their sin broke the relationship with God for them and for all people, and God’s promise of a redeemer.

  • Genesis 6–9 is not a children’s story. It shows God’s anger against our sin, and yet also shows that he is a redeeming God. Like Noah, it challenges us to step out in faith.

  • Genesis 12:1–15:6 focuses on one man, Abraham, who is part of the fulfillment of the promise God made in the Garden to redeem humanity. Abraham must do two things: believe, and act on that belief. When he does, God makes an eternal covenant with him and with all his descendants, Israel and the church. We too must follow the pattern of our father: believe, and act on that belief.

    The authors of the New Testament refer to Abraham as the person with whom God made the covenant as the father of the nation of Israel. At the time God established the covenant, the man's name was Abram. God changed it later to Abraham and that's how he is referred to in subsequent references.

  • The story of Joseph in Genesis 37–50 is an account of God’s faithfulness to his promises to Abraham, his omnipotence (all-powerful), and his omniscience (all-knowing). Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, but God worked through their evil to accomplish good — the salvation of the entire nation of Abraham’s descendants. We too are called to faith in God’s promises.

  • In Exodus 7:14–Exodus 10, we read of God’s salvation of the Israelite nation. The Egyptians had enslaved them, but through Moses God punished the Egyptians with ten plagues and secured the Israelite’s freedom. God is faithful to his promises, and all praise and honor go to him.

  • The Ten Commandments, found in Exodus 20, are not rules to follow, but they give form and structure to how our love for God (the Shema) should manifest itself in how we treat God and others.

  • Moses wants to see God. Exodus 33 contains the account of how God could not let Moses see him or Moses would have died; but he does allow Moses to see the back of his glory. This is the essence of Christianity: a desire to see God. After all, God created us to have fellowship with us. We were created for community with him.

  • The book of Leviticus is consumed with the holiness of God, that he is separate from all sin. The sacrificial system teaches us that sin violates God’s rules, which extracts the high cost of death.  But Leviticus also teaches us that God forgives, that a sacrifice can pay the penalty of our sin (if we repent), and in so doing prepares us for the cross of Jesus.

  • The Shema is the central affirmation of the Old Testament: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4). It calls us to rigorous monotheism in which we refuse to worship idols of any shape.

  • The book of Judges shows the necessity of covenant renewal, how each generation must decide for itself if it will follow God. Once the Israelites were given the Promised Land, for the most part they failed to renew the covenant and failed to receive the blessings from God. The same is true of our own families.

  • I Samuel tells of the shift from the nation being ruled by Judges to that of a king. Israel was supposed to be a theocracy, a kingdom ruled by God, and so the people’s desire for a king was a rejection of God. Saul, the first king, did not learn the lesson that God is still king, and what matters for us is to remain faithful. Unfortunately, many people make the same mistake as Saul.

    Update: When Dr. Mounce refers to "theodicy" at the first of the lecture, he means, "theocracy." We have updated the outline and the transcription. We will update the audio when we are able.

  • This is not a story primarily about a young man defeating a great warrior (I Samuel 16-17). It is an account of how faith propels us to trust God, no matter what the appearances.

  • Psalm 23 is David's cry of faith that his divine Shepherd will provide and protect him in all situations, and that God is lavish in his love for his sheep.

  • Psalm 51 gives the pattern for true biblical confession, which admits our own guilt and God's justice, makes no excuses, and appeals not to our good works but to God's mercy.

  • Solomon was the wisest of all people, and yet he died a fool because he ignored his own advice (Proverbs). It is not enough to know the truth; you have to do it. Wisdom begins with knowing that God knows best.

  • Job learned that bad things happen to good people and bad people alike. The question is, will you continue to trust God in the difficult times? Is he worthy of our trust when we don’t know all the answers and our lives are filled with pain?

  • 1 Kings 14–18 tells the story of Elijah and his battle with false religion. The word of the day was “syncretism,” the mixing of two religions. In our day, we are faced with the same challenge, especially the mixing of Christianity and secular culture. Elijah challenges us to not have divided hearts or divided loyalties.

  • Isaiah 6:1-8 tells us of Isaiah’s visit to God’s throne, and there we learn the true meaning of worship: the cycle of revelation and response. As God reveals himself to us, and we must respond appropriately. It asks the question, ”How big is your God?”

  • Isaiah 52–53 give us one of the most exact and theologically helpful looks into the death of Christ. Isaiah prophecies about a servant who was to come, whom God would punish for our sins. This, of course, is a prophecy about Jesus. Here we learn that there is no sin God cannot forgive, and that peace comes not from within ourselves but from outside, from God.

  • Micah prophesied three sets of what we call a “Woe” (judgment”) and “Weal” (restoration). The Israelites believed all they had to do was go through the external motions of worship, and then they could live any way they wanted the rest of the week. This brings judgment, but with judgment God promises a future restoration.

  • Hosea prophesied to people who were caught in persistent sin. Their sin caught them in a downward spiral beginning with idolatry and enforced by luxury. But even at the bottom of spiral, after the people have experienced the necessary punishment, God is still present to forgive. Sinners are called “whores,” living unfaithful lives.

  • Habakkuk asks the question of why do the wicked appear to flourish and the righteous suffer. At the root of his question is whether or not God is righteous. Because Habakkuk asks in faith, God answers his question by telling him to wait. Eventually, the wicked are punished and the righteous are rewarded. In the meantime, the righteous person lives by their faith that God is a righteous God. 

  • Jeremiah and Ezekiel prophesied before and during the exile, when God’s people were conquered by the Babylonians, preaching God's judgment as well as the promise of hope. The hope was the New Covenant where God's law would be written on the person's heart and empowered through the work of God's Spirit.

  • The book of Lamentations teaches us that there is an end to God’s patience with sin. It is a national lament in which Israel expresses their deep sorrow over sin. It starts by being honest about the cause of sin, not blaming anyone but themselves. But it concludes by expressing their faith in the God who forgives.

  • Back in Genesis 3:15, God promised to do something about sin. The Old Testament shows God working to keep his promise, a promise that is eventually fulfilled in Jesus Christ. But unlike popular expectation, Jesus was more than just a human being. He was fully God at the same time he was fully human. But it is not enough to know these facts; you must receive God’s blessing in order to walk in relationship with God.

  • The Old Testament ends on a note of promise, that God would send Elijah to prepare the people for their coming savior, the Messiah. This Elijah turns out to be John the Baptist, who prepares the people by teaching them about repentance. Much to their surprise, the people learned that being born Jewish was of no advantage, and that they too had to learn that they have nothing of value to offer God if they are to enter his kingdom.

  • Perhaps the most common term used about Christians is being “born again,” or “reborn.” This comes from the account of the Jewish leader Nicodemus. Jesus tells him that if he is to enter God’s kingdom, he cannot get there naturally, through what he can do. Only the supernatural work of God’s Spirit in making us new — so new that it is a rebirth — can accomplish our salvation. All this is explained by the most famous verse in the Bible, John 3:16.

  • Do you want to be blessed by God? Jesus tells us how this happens with eight statements at the beginning of his famous “Sermon on the Mount.” Contrary to popular belief, blessing comes through recognizing our spiritual depravity, mourning over our sin, and as a result being meek, pure in heart, and pursuing peace. How will the world respond? It will persecute you, which is also a blessing.

  • Jesus teaches us that prayer begins with us orienting ourselves to our heavenly father, being most concerned with his glory and the advance of his kingdom, and concludes with our admission of total dependence on him for our physical and spiritual needs. Prayer is primarily about God.

  • Worry carries the illusion that we have some control and that worry can accomplish something. Of course, it can do no such thing. Disciples are to have unwavering loyalty to God. As we see Gods care of his creation, we can rest assured that he will also care for us. Our focus is to be on his kingdom and his righteous; in return, he will simply give us what we need.

  • Many years before Christ, God told Moses that his name is “I AM.” Jesus picks this name up to assert that he is in fact the Great I AM, and as such he says things like, “I am the bread of life,” “I am the light of the world.” The mystery of the Trinity is that there is one God, and yet God is three – Father, Son, Spirit. This is difficult to understand, and yet we should not expect to know everything there is to know about God.

  • When Jesus calls us to follow him, as one person has said, he bids us come and die. Die to our personal ambitions, and live daily as one who has died to himself and lives for God. Only disciples are in heaven.

  • What is the single most important thing you can do? What is the central thing required of us by God? It is to love him him with everything we are. Our love must be emotional (not just obedience) and it must be personal (loving God and not things about him). But if we love God, we must then love our neighbor.

  • Two major events await the disciples: the destruction of the temple and Jesus’ return. There will be signs, warning them to flee Jerusalem, which happened in A.D. 70. But there are no warning signs for when Jesus will return and this age will end. The disciple’s role is not to wonder about when this will happen — not even Jesus knows — but to live a life of preparedness.

  • In Jesus’ last teaching before his death and resurrection, among other things he taught the disciples about the coming Spirit who will convict the world of its sin, show the world Jesus’ righteousness, and convict the world of its coming judgment. We know this “Spirit” to be the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity.

  • The greatest act of salvation before the cross was God freeing the Israelites from Egypt. To celebrate that event, God instituted the Passover celebration, commemorating God’s graciousness act of passing over the Israelite houses and killing the first-born of only the Egyptian homes. But now God is about to perform and even greater salvation event, Jesus dying on the cross. Christians are to celebrate Passover not looking back to Egypt but looking at Jesus’ death and forward to his eventual return.

  • The death and resurrection of Jesus is the culmination of not only Jesus' life but of all history to that point. Jesus died on the cross so that we can be friends of God, and he was shown to have conquered death by his resurrection from the grave. The temple curtain, which symbolized the separation between God and people, was torn in two, from the top to the bottom, and we can now live in direct relationship with God.

  • Jesus’ final act on earth was to commission his followers. Their central mission is to make disciples. They are to make new disciples by sharing the gospel and baptizing them; and they are to make fully-devoted disciples by teaching people to obey everything Jesus taught. Because God is sovereign over all, we must do this. Because he will never leave us, we are able to do this.

  • During the Jewish festival of Pentecost, 50 days after Passover, Jesus’ promise was fulfilled and the Holy Spirit came and empowered all of Jesus’ followers, giving them supernatural power to, among other things, speak in human languages they had not learned. Peter explains the phenomena as a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy and then preaches the basic message found throughout Acts: Jesus lived, died, was raised form the dead, and therefore all people are called to repent of their misunderstanding of who Jesus is.

  • The church is not a building or an activity. The church is the sum total of all true believers. Christ is the head. We are the body. We are a family. We are the temple of God, the place that he inhabits.

  • Justification is the doctrine of being declared not guilty of our sins. It is a work of God alone; we do not help. In Romans 1:16–17 and 3:21–26, Paul makes it clear that this declaration of righteousness is based not on what we do (“works”) but on what we believe about Jesus (“faith”), that Jesus did on the cross for us what we could not do for ourselves.

  • We are not only saved by God’s grace, but his grace continues to sustain us throughout our life. One way that God’s grace shows itself is in how we give, financially. God’s grace enables to to both want to give and to be able to give. If someone is not giving, they should wonder about the condition of their heart and why God’s grace is not active in it.

  • In Romans 5–8, Paul reminds us of the many reasons why we are joyful. We are at peace with God. We are reconciled to him. We have been set free from sin. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit lives within us. We are adopted into God’s family, assured that we are his children. This is the joy of the righteous life.

  • Paul wants the church in Philippi to understand humility. They should agree on one central focus, and that is a humility that stems from a right understanding of who you are in Christ. As an example, we look no further than Jesus, who is God, lowering himself to be human, and in return being exalted. In response, we should take great care at working out the implications of what it means to be saved.

  • Christians are people of the book. We believe that all of Scripture came from the very mouth of God. It is true in all it affirms and authoritative over our lives. The challenge is to come to the point where you really believe this.

  • The book of Hebrews is a deep theological study on the superiority of Christ over everyone and everything else. Interspersed throughout the teaching are the “Warning” passages in which the author encourages his readers to not fall away from their faith. If people do leave the Christian faith, they can have no assurance that they truly are Christians.

  • James tells us that there is nothing more difficult to control than  the tongue. It destroys people’s reputation, often under the guise that what is being said is accurate. We are hurt, so we verbally lash out. We want to be well thought of, so we feign piety. The only way to gain any victory over the tongue is to work on the heart, since it is out of the heart that the mouth speaks. Unfortunately, gossip often is the natural language of the church, but there can be victory.

  • 1 Peter asks one of the fundamental question of life is, how can an all-powerful, all-good God allow pain and suffering. It helps us grapple with this question by pointing our attention to the realities of our lives, especially the fact that we are exiles on earth and our true home is heaven. We are to recognize in the midst of suffering that God is still at work for our good.

  • The letter we call 1 John is primarily about love. We have been loved by God, and so we should love others as well. Love is not  some simplistic emotion but it involves action: God loved us and therefore sent his Son. Love is the giving of oneself for the benefit of the other.

  • The Bible closes with the prophecy of how all things will end. While there are many questions as to the precise meaning of this book, it’s central message is crystal clear. God will not keep us from suffering and persecution; it is going to get worst; God calls us to be faithful in the midst of our pain. If we are faithful to the end, we will be rewarded. This is what we are waiting for, a new heaven and a new earth where there will be no pain, no sorrow, no sin. The Garden of Eden will be restored, at last. We were created for fellowship with God, and we long for the day when Jesus will return again and take us home.

English | Hindi | Swahili

The Bible is one continuous story filled with adventure, heroes and villains, triumph and defeat, good and evil, love and jealousy, plot twists and ultimately, a happy ending. As you read each of the short Bible stories along the way, you begin to see how the Bible stories combine to form the structure of the one big story. The individual characters and their experiences of tragedy and triumph draw you into their Bible stories and help you see the overarching themes of cosmic love, judgment and redemption.

Telling stories is an effective way of communicating ideas so you remember them. Immersing yourself into the 26 Bible stories from the Old Testament and 26 from the New Testament helps you to understand and internalize the character of God, the splendor of his creation, his love for humans, the evil and destructiveness of sin, the wonder of the plan of redemption and the completeness of restoration at the end of history.

Each of these stories can be considered as Bible stories for kids because the plot and main teaching of the story is something that most children will understand. They are also Bible stories for youth and adults because if you are wise, the examples you see and the lessons you learn will guide you for a lifetime.


Recommended Books

52 Major Stories of the Bible - Student Guide

52 Major Stories of the Bible - Student Guide

The Bible is one continuous story, from the story of creation to the story of Jesus' future return at the end of time. And yet there are smaller, pivotal stories that...

52 Major Stories of the Bible - Student Guide

Dr. Bill Mounce
52 Major Stories of the Bible
Jesus' Death and Resurrection
Lesson Transcript


History is Heading Toward the Death and Resurrection

So far most of the 52 events we have discussed have been pointing to today's event. Most of the stories in the Old Testament and many of the New Testament have been pointing towards Jesus' death and his resurrection. In the first two chapters of the Bible we learned about creation and that we were created for fellowship with God. In chapter 3 of Genesis we learned about the fall, our fall into sin and how we became people that God was not pleased with, doing things that did not please him. And we learned that because of our sin we had separated ourselves from the very presence of our Creator. We looked at the book of Leviticus, learning about the sacrificial system and how a holy God cannot live in the presence of sin; how a just God cannot ignore sin and how the consequence of our sin is separation from our Creator. In the midst of all that, we learned that in his mercy, God grants forgiveness through the death of a substitute such as a lamb; if a person has sinned, they could bring a lamb to be killed and that lamb's death would pay the penalty for the person's sin. We looked at the story of Abraham and how God promised Abraham to create a nation from his descendants and then to bless the world through it. We looked at the prophet Isaiah who said that blessing would come through a person who would appear in the future whom he calls "God's Servant." In fact, Isaiah describes this future person in terms of a lamb that was going to die for our sins. For example, in Isaiah 53 Isaiah prophesies, "Surely he [this coming Servant, this Lamb of God] has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; and yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted." We thought that because he was being punished that God was the one punishing him. "But he [this Lamb of God] was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord [God the Father] has laid on him [Jesus, God's Servant] the iniquity of us all." But as we continued to look at other events in the Old Testament, we came across the prophets of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and we read their prophecies of a coming new covenant, a coming new relationship that God was going to establish with his people. And this new covenant, this new relationship was not going to be just a bunch of rules; rather, this new covenant was going to come with the very power to transform our lives, to transform us from the inside out by the working of God's promised Spirit. The ability of God to make us into the kind of people that please him. It is that very transformation that Jesus was talking about when he told Nicodemus that if you want to enter the kingdom of God, if you want to become a disciple of Jesus Christ, if you want to become a Christian, then you must be born again. You must be born from above; you must be born by the power of God's Spirit. We also looked at last Thursday night Jesus spent with his disciples before he died. They were celebrating the Passover, an ancient Jewish festival, that Jesus gave an entirely new meaning to. And as they were passing the bread and the cup, Jesus said that "these things now refer to my body and my blood, to my death on the cross. And it is because of my coming death on the cross that I will be able to create this new covenant. I will be able to establish this new transforming relationship with my people." We saw that Jesus is God's servant just as Isaiah had prophesied that Jesus is the Lamb of God who will die for the sins of the world just as Leviticus taught us. You can weave these and many other events together and see Jesus; specifically, Jesus in his death and in his resurrection.

Death and Resurrection

On Thursday after they had celebrated Passover and Jesus had explained its new meaning, he was betrayed by Judas; Peter denied even knowing him and the rest of his special friends scattered because they were scared. He went through the mockery of a rigged illegal trial by the Jewish leaders; the Roman governor pronounced him innocent, but in order to keep a riot from breaking out, in order to pacify the crowd, he allowed them to kill the Lamb of God. And Jesus was scourged; he carried his cross to Golgotha; he was nailed to the cross and he was left there to die. In the moment of sin's apparent greatest victory, Jesus the Lamb of God died for your sins and for mine. On the cross God worked through the sins of men to break the very power of sin itself and the temple veil was torn in two. It is not just a passing comment; it is one of the most important theological statements in the entire Bible. The curtain was about a 6-inch thick curtain that separated a place called "The Holy of Holies" from the rest of the Temple. The Holy of Holies is the place where God's presence used to dwell in the days of King David. It was a place that only the High Priest could enter and could only enter once a year. That veil symbolized not only God's presence but also the fact that we are separated from the presence of our Creator. It was that veil that was torn from the top to the bottom completely in two, thus symbolizing and thus proclaiming that you and I can have direct access to the very presence of our Creator God.

When Jesus died he made possible this new covenant, this new transforming relationship that we can have with our Creator. When Jesus died he paid the penalty of our sins by being our substitute, by being the Lamb of God. When Jesus died he brought us back to the Garden of Eden where it all began in Genesis 1 and 2 so that we could be at peace with our Creator. But this peace is only for those who have faith in Jesus Christ; for those who truly believe that he is who he says he is, that he is God and man. And that peace is only for those who truly believe that Jesus did what he said he did; that he died on the cross as the just and holy and loving penalty for your sin and mine. This is what Paul is telling the Romans in chapter 5 when he writes, "Since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." We have peace because we have been justified, because we have been declared "not guilty" of our sins. The enmity is gone because we have been ushered into a right relationship with God, not because of what we do, but because of our faith. The war is done because we truly believe that Jesus is the God-man who did the work for us because we couldn't do it in dying for our sins. We have peace with God, but it is only through the work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. Only Jesus dealt with sin, therefore only Jesus gives us access into the presence of our Creator God. There is neither peace nor salvation in any other name. Not Mohammed, Buddha, or Confucius can provide salvation. It is because only Jesus dealt with sin. Christians are often accused of being exclusive. We are exclusive. We are phenomenally exclusive because only one God-man has ever existed who dealt with sin, thus tore the curtain in the Temple and gave us access to the very presence of our Creator God. There is so much that happened on Good Friday that this is slightly scratching the surface. If you would like to know more, John Piper has written a book called ''The Passion of Jesus Christ'' that explains the top 50 reasons why Jesus died and what he accomplished on the cross. I know it is sorrowful to think of the pain that Jesus suffered for us on the cross. It is truly a painful sorrowful experience, yet Good Friday is good and joyful because of what Jesus' death accomplished for us on the cross. Of John's 50 topics, let me just read you the top 15 from the Table of Contents: Jesus' death absorbed the wrath of God. Jesus' death achieved his own resurrection from the dead. Jesus' death was to show the wealth of God's love and grace for sinners. Jesus' death was so that he could become a ransom for many people; to forgive our sins; to provide for our justification [our declaration that we're not guilty]. Jesus' death takes away our condemnation. It's makes us holy, blameless and perfect. It gives eternal life to all who believe. Jesus' death reconciles us to God. It frees us from the slavery of sin. Jesus' death enables us to live for Christ and not for ourselves. Jesus' death created a people passionate for good works. Jesus' death frees us from bondage to the fear of death and has secured our resurrection from the dead. And that is just a sampling of the joy that is ours because of what Jesus did on Good Friday. The story does not end on Friday. It does not end on the sadness of the cross. What happens next is more than a mere postscript. Three days after his death, Jesus' followers find out that he is alive and He appears many times to his disciples; one time to a group of more than 500 of them. Death is a penalty for sin, not a penalty for living too long. Are you aware of that? "For the wages of sin is death." Death is the penalty for sin. That is how God created it, Romans 6:23. But Jesus was sinless. He had no penalty to pay of his own. So when he died for your sins and mine, death was not able to contain him for there was no penalty and he rose again. Jesus' last words on the cross were "It is finished." "I have accomplished all that I've set out to do. I set out to live and I set out to die and I have accomplished all that my Father has given me to do." And the resurrection was God's stamp of approval on that very statement, that Jesus cried out "It is finished." And God says, "You're right. I am going to show people that you're right by raising you from the dead." John Piper, page 26 writes, "The wrath of God was satisfied with the suffering and death of Jesus. The holy curse against sin was fully absorbed. The obedience of Christ was completed to the fullest measure. The price of forgiveness was totally paid. The righteousness of God was completely vindicated and all that was left to accomplish was the public declaration of God's endorsement. This he gave by raising Jesus from the dead. There is no sin that you can commit that will put you outside the ability of the cross to forgive, and to make that point clear, God raised Jesus from the dead." Jesus was not just given additional life, not the same kind of life that you and I have; resurrection is not resuscitation. Lazarus was truly dead but he was merely resuscitated. A pretty good miracle in and of itself, but Lazarus had to die again. But Jesus was raised to a new kind of life, to a resurrection life, a heavenly life in which he will never again die. And the beauty of this is that he calls us to join him in that kind of resurrection life.

In Romans 6:4 Paul has been talking about our conversion and the proclamation of our conversion and our baptism and he says in verse 4, "We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life." When you and I became a disciple of Jesus Christ we were joined with Christ, we died with him; we are in some kind of mystical faith union with him. Just as Jesus was raised to a new kind of life, so also you and I are invited to be raised with him to a new kind of life; to walk in newness of life.

What Does Resurrection Life Look Like?

The question is, what does this resurrection life look like? What does it mean to walk in newness of life? I want you to see that the Bible is intent on telling us that this life is as joyful as the crucifixion is sad. What does this resurrection life that we are called up with Jesus to enjoy look like? First of all, it is a life of forgiveness. Paul writes to the Corinthian church, "And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins." But Christ has been raised. Our faith is effective and we are no longer, we who are disciples of Jesus Christ, in our sins. Full forgiveness is made available on the cross. It was purchased by his blood and it was celebrated by his resurrection. The resurrected life is a life of forgiveness. The resurrected life is also a life of regeneration; that you and I as disciples of Jesus Christ, because of what he did on the cross, can be made into new creatures; that we who were once dead can now be made alive with him. That's regeneration, being made alive, being born again. Peter says it this way, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." God is a God of mercy who, because of his mercy, sent his Son to die and be raised from the dead. With the same power that God used to raise his Son from the dead, God caused you to be born again. This time not to a dead hope, not to a hope that will end in death, but to a hope that will end with eternal life in the presence of our Creator God in heaven. The resurrected life is a life of regeneration. What else does a resurrection life look like? It looks like a life of sanctification, a life of growth in spiritual maturity. It is a life of becoming more and more like Jesus Christ. Paul tells the church at Rome that we "belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God." Christianity is not a new list of things you can do and things you cannot do. That is not what it is all about at all. Christianity is the message that we are ushered into a new kind of life, a resurrected life when we become disciples of Jesus Christ. We are made into new kinds of creatures. We are called into a new creation where the power of sin has been broken. We no longer have to live under the power of sin. By the resurrecting power of God we want to be the person that God wants us to be. When we experience the resurrecting power of God we want to do the things God says is best for us to do. We struggle, and that is why there is forgiveness. But the life of the resurrection is a life of growth, becoming more and more to look like Jesus Christ and all his holiness. And some day that holiness will be complete and we will look like him when we see him face to face in heaven.

What does this resurrection look like? It is a life that guarantees my resurrection from the dead. Paul tells the Corinthian church, "God [the Father] raised the Lord [Jesus] and will also raise us up by his power." The very power that pushed the stone aside, the very power that gave life to Jesus' dead body is the very power of the universe that when I die will give life to me, to my spirit and to my body and I too will be raised from the dead. Paul tells the Romans that the "Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you [that's God the Holy Spirit, the third member of the Trinity], he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you." That's the promise of God. That is the promise of Scripture, that the resurrecting power of God can be yours as well. See, once again we see that it is through Jesus and Jesus alone that death has been defeated and our resurrection has been guaranteed. Paul writes to the Corinthians in chapter 15 about this process of dying, putting off what is mortal and being clothed by the power of God with immortality and the removal of the fear of death. This is what he says in 1 Corinthians 15, "When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: 'Death is swallowed up in victory.' 'O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?' The sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." Jesus has conquered death and it is through that conquering that he can promise us freedom from the sting of death because we know it's not the end. We know that death is just the door into a new kind of life that we get to enjoy forever. This is just what you would expect from someone who never said, "I'm a good man." He said, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live." The resurrected life is a life in which all disciples of Jesus Christ are guaranteed of their own resurrection.

But fifthly, the life of the resurrection is the life of peace. It is a life of living in the presence of our Creator forever. Jesus is coming again. He will either come at my death or at the end of time, but he is coming again. The author of the book of Hebrews writes, "Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him." Disciples of Jesus Christ are to be living in such a way that we are eagerly waiting for him to come back again; eager to hear the words, "Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your master." You know what the joy of our master looks like. It is described in the last book of the Bible, Revelation 21 and the prophet John writes, "Then I saw a new heaven and new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. [This is who we are and this is where we get to live forever.] And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. [We've come full circle to the Garden of Eden. We're back in the direct presence of our Creator; what God always intended for us.] He [God] will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." The life of the resurrection is the life that is lived in peace as we wait for the coming of our blessed God and Savior, Jesus Christ. And then a life of peace lived forever in the direct presence of God.

Question of Easter: Are you ready?

The question of Easter is very simple, is it not? The question of Easter is "Are you ready?" Are you ready for your sins to be forgiven? Are you ready for your life to be transformed? Are you ready to lose your fear of death? Are you ready to look forward to eternal life? Are you ready to be at peace with your Creator? It is as simple, in a sense, as ABC. It means that you must Admit that by your sin you have separated yourself from your Creator. You Believe that Jesus is who he says he is and that he did what he said he was going to do; that he is God and man at the same time who was able to die on the cross and pay a penalty that we could never pay. He paid the penalty for our sins so that we could be with him forever. It means that you Commit your life to him, waiting eagerly for his return. If you become a disciple of Jesus Christ, if you become a Christian then God's Spirit will transform you. He will forgive you. He will declare you righteous, not guilty of your sins. And he will empower you to live a life of increasing holiness. The question of Easter is, Will you respond like Jesus' followers responded when they saw the risen Lord? The disciples were glad when they saw Jesus. Will you be glad when he comes for you in death? Will you be glad when he comes for you at the end of time? Will you, as Thomas did, worship him? Will you fall down on your face and say, "My Lord and my God" or will you run for the hills and ask for the rocks to fall down and crush you? Jesus has already come once to deal with sin. He is coming again to gather to himself those who are part of this resurrection life and who are eagerly waiting for him.

Memory Verse

“If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17).

Reflection Questions

  • List as many Old Testament promises as you can that were fulfilled by Jesus on the cross.
  • Think of the temple veil being torn in two. How does that impact how you live your daily lives?
  • How does Jesus’ resurrection help you understand that fact that you are can be forgiven?
  • How does Jesus’ resurrection help you understand that fact that you can be born again?
  • How does Jesus’ resurrection help you understand that fact that you can become more like Jesus?
  • How does Jesus’ resurrection help you understand that fact that you also can be raised from the dead and live forever with your Creator?
  • What are the “ABC’s” of salvation?
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