What Difference Does the Resurrection Make?

What difference does the resurrection make in the life of the believer? We have now entered the season known as Easter. During these next few weeks, we will share songs together and we will look at the resurrection from several angles. We alluded to the answer of that question during last week’s musical. Each Christmas, I usually make the statement, “We cannot divorce the child in the manger from the Christ on the cross.” Too many times we think of those as two completely different events, but they are both part of God’s plan for the salvation of man. Just as we cannot separate the birth and the death of Christ, we cannot separate the death on the cross from the resurrection from the tomb.

The cross is powerful as we saw last week. When Jesus instituted the communion feast, he told his disciples, this is my body which was broken for you. Jesus Christ’s body was beaten to a pulp for each one of us – not only individually, but for us corporately – we call that the church. Not only was his body broken for the church, but his blood was shed for the forgiveness of sins. Paul tells us: [Jesus] gave up his life for [the church] 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. 27 He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. The cross is a powerful part of the Christian narrative, but the cross alone cannot save us. Why? If Jesus would have died and not risen again, he would be no different than any other human who walked the face of this earth. One characteristic that each human has is that one day each of us will die. We cannot escape it. That’s what makes Jesus so much different. Every other leader of a religious movement is still in the ground, but Jesus is alive.

Remember our dear friend Peter – mister, stick foot into your mouth at every opportunity? Just fifty days later, he was filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and responded to some accusations about him and the other disciples in a powerful way. Here is what he said:

22 “People of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through him, as you well know. 23 But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him. 24 But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip. 25 King David said this about him:

‘I see that the Lord is always with me.
I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.
26 No wonder my heart is glad,
and my tongue shouts his praises!
My body rests in hope.
27 For you will not leave my soul among the dead
or allow your Holy One to rot in the grave.
28 You have shown me the way of life,
and you will fill me with the joy of your presence.’

29 “Dear brothers, think about this! You can be sure that the patriarch David wasn’t referring to himself, for he died and was buried, and his tomb is still here among us. 30 But he was a prophet, and he knew God had promised with an oath that one of David’s own descendants would sit on his throne. 31 David was looking into the future and speaking of the Messiah’s resurrection. He was saying that God would not leave him among the dead or allow his body to rot in the grave.

32 “God raised Jesus from the dead, and we are all witnesses of this.

See, the incarnation (the birth of Jesus), the death of Jesus on the cross and the resurrection were all part of God’s plan from the very beginning. Like Pastor George Harris said last week at our community sunrise service, “There is (or was) no plan b.” This was the plan so that humankind could be saved. Not only did God raise Jesus back from the grave, but there were many witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15: 3 I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. 4 He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. 5 He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve. 6 After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. 7 Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as though I had been born at the wrong time, I also saw him.

If the resurrection was not an important part of the story, why would Peter and Paul both mention it? Each of the gospel writers gives us a description of the resurrection. John tells us what happened later Sunday evening of the resurrection:

19 That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. 20 As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! 21 Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” 22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

24 One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. 25 They told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.”

26 Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”

28 “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed.

29 Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”

So what difference does the resurrection make? Listen to the words of Peter again, this time from one of his letters.

3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, 4 and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. 5 And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.

6 So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. 7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

8 You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. 9 The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.

Here is where the power of the resurrection is described. We have been born again because God raised Jesus from the dead. What difference does the resurrection make? We have a priceless inheritance in heaven. How would you like to have an inheritance that won’t rust, decay, lose its value, or change in any way? This is what God has promised for those who are His children. Peter tells us of the great joy that is to be ours. Does he say that we will never go through trials, no, they are there to help us prove our faith is genuine. Remember what Jesus said to Thomas. Look at what Peter says to the church.

8 You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. 9 The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.

This morning could be a new step for you. Are you living in the power of the resurrection? Or are you living in your own power? Thomas believed because of what he saw and touched. We have to believe even though we haven’t seen. Can you trust in Jesus today? Can you trust in the power of the resurrection? It can make all the difference.

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