"Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead?" (Acts 26:8) The Apostle Paul asked this rhetorical question when he was on trial for sharing his confidence in Christ’s resurrection and the resurrection of the dead. His point was that the One who gives life can just as easily raise the dead. Paul’s question wasn’t just for skeptics of yesterday and today; it’s also for modern believers who have let worldly philosophy influence their faith. Recent surveys reveal that many who call themselves Christians do not believe in a bodily resurrection or in the resurrection of Jesus. Paul is blunt: "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins…
…But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead." (I Corinthians 15:12-20) His resurrection guarantees that His promises are alive and true, and so is your faith in Him. For all the times you struggle with doubts and your faith feels faint, look to the fact of Christ’s resurrection. His resurrection guarantees that your sins are truly forgiven, and sin no longer rules you and damns you. For all the times you feel sin and guilt hanging over your head, look to the fact of Christ’s resurrection. His resurrection guarantees your resurrection, that you will rise from the dead and live forever, body and soul, with the Lord in heaven. For all the times that life feels like nothing more than standing in line to die, look to the fact of Christ’s resurrection. Only the risen Savior can give these guarantees; any other faith is futile. Come and see that CHRIST’S RESURRECTION GUARANTEES HIS PROMISES of forgiveness and a resurrection for you.
Nowhere, anywhere, at any time in human history will you find more powerful, meaningful words than these: "He has risen, just as He said." (Matthew 28:6) With these words, angels greet the women who had come to anoint Jesus’ corpse on the third day after His crucifixion. "Just as He said" is a reminder that they should have known the tomb would be empty. Why did they forget? Why do we so easily forget what Jesus has told us – His commands and His comforts, His precepts and His promises? Worry, fear, confusion, and grief played a part in the women’s forgetfulness, and we sometimes focus on those and lose sight of Jesus as well. We’re just as likely to forget because we are self-absorbed and simply don’t listen or take seriously what Jesus has said. But there is victory in these words to pardon our poor listening and to forgive our forgetfulness: "He has risen, just as he said."
And because Jesus lives, the power of sin, death, and the devil is destroyed! What is sin when God has shown that He accepted His Son’s sacrifice for you by raising Him from the dead? What is death when the Lord's tomb is empty? What is the devil when he can no longer hold sin and death over you? Jesus’ resurrection transforms and shapes everything – because Jesus lives, in Him you live. No matter what you face, in Him you live. No matter what you endure, in Him you live. No matter when you die, in Him you live. Name the disease, the ailment, the hardship, the sin, the guilt, the loss, the disappointment – no matter what you may suffer, in Him you live! Does that sound defiant? It is! Such is our confidence because "HE HAS RISEN, JUST AS HE SAID."
I don’t usually write these ForgivenFully posts as a personal testimony, but maybe it’s the best way to share with you why this matter of Jesus dying and rising from the dead is so important. Whether you are a believer or a skeptic or you’ve made up your mind against Jesus, I relate with you and you with me more than you may realize. I try live a good life, and I bet you do too. But I know that I fall short in many ways. People say 'no one’s perfect,' but that doesn’t comfort me in the least bit. Deep down I know that life isn’t graded on a curve. There’s a sense of failure and inadequacy and guilt and fear of accountability that I can’t dull and I can’t outrun. And there’s a cry for 'more' in my life and 'more' out of life that I can’t in any way satisfy by what I do or what I pursue. Can you relate? Honestly, can you relate?
This is why, like a man in a desert who’s found an oasis of life, I point you to Jesus telling you that HIS LIFE MEANS NEW LIFE FOR YOU.
I am inviting you to that refreshing oasis of life. Come learn of Jesus. Come to my church this weekend. Or go to your church if you'll learn of life in Jesus there. Just don’t pretend that life is OK as it is or that you can ever get enough of the refreshing that Jesus extends to us through His life lived for us, given for us, and risen for us. Come and experience the truth that HIS LIFE MEANS NEW LIFE FOR YOU.
It wasn’t spontaneous or a matter of circumstances. It was intentional and purposeful. Yes, Jesus chose to ride into Jerusalem on a donkey. Some 500 years earlier through the prophet Zechariah, God painted this picture of the promised Savior and His work: "Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey." (Zechariah 9:9) Think of what this says about God’s faithfulness. With incredible planning, patience, precision, and power, He keeps His promises. But how often are we suspect of His attentiveness and care, especially when things go wrong or don’t seem to go our way? Let us repent and put our trust in Jesus, who rode that donkey on purpose to fulfill what was promised and to say personally to you, 'Zechariah was writing about me; here I am, your king, righteous and having salvation.' Deliberately and precisely, our King did what He needed to do to save us from sin and its eternal consequences, and to save us for life with Him in His eternal kingdom. What greater care and attentiveness could He show us?
Did those who spread palm branches as Jesus entered Jerusalem fully understand the purpose of Jesus’ ride on a donkey? The cries for His crucifixion just a few days later suggest that many did not. But I pray you do. The Righteous King who brings you salvation is worthy of your praise! For wherever His Gospel is shared, wherever the waters of Baptism are poured out, wherever His Holy Supper is received, SEE, YOUR KING OF SALVATION COMES TO YOU!
Christ Our Redeemer Lutheran Church
Daniel is the Staff Minister at Christ Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, El Paso TX.