The Rattle of the Resurrection

The Rattle of the Resurrection

“Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb. Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it.   His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint. Then the angel spoke to the women. ‘Don’t be afraid!’ he said. ‘I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.   He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as He said would happen.’” (Matthew 28:1-6)

For three days, all hope was lost. For three days, it looked like evil had won. For three days, eternity held its breath.

But on the third day. On the third day. On the third day, the ground began to shake. On the third day, the stone was rolled away. On the third day, the rattle of the resurrection forever changes the course of human history.

So what impact does the resurrection actually have for us? As we come close to Easter, of course we’re excited about His resurrection. But does His resurrection have application for me today? It does and here’s how.

The resurrection is central to our faith and to our forgiveness.

The Apostle Paul makes a powerful and definitive statement in 1 Corinthians 15:17. “And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins.” Paul sees a direct connection between the resurrection of Jesus and the effectiveness of His death to atone for our sins. When Jesus rose again on the third day, it was the public announcement that God was fully satisfied with the sacrificial death of His Son. It was the public announcement that we can be forgiven. Our faith isn’t just a subjective warm and fuzzy feeling. Our faith connects us to the objective fact that Jesus rose from the dead and we are therefore free from guilt and shame. The resurrection shows us that death is defeated. As a Pastor, I’ve had the honour of standing alongside so many families at the graveside of their loved one. There’s a sense of loss, a sense of grief and yes, a sense of finality. But for followers for Jesus, there’s also a sense of hope. That’s because, for the follower of Jesus, death doesn’t win. You can hear triumph in the words of Acts. 2:24. “But God released Him from the horrors of death and raised Him back to life, for death could not keep Him in its grip.” Death couldn’t keep Him and the grave couldn’t hold Him! And the resurrection doesn’t only mean that Jesus defeated death just for Himself. He’s also called the ‘first fruits’ of many who will follow Him in resurrection.

To quote C.S. Lewis, “He has forced open a door that has been locked since the death of the first man. He has met, fought, and beaten the King of Death. Everything is different because He has done so.”

(C.S. Lewis, Miracles, New York, Harper Collins, 1974, 237).

The rattle of the resurrection guarantees us that sickness, suffering, death and disease will not have the final word. Jesus kicked open the door of death has been beaten. Thank you Jesus!

The resurrection proves that Jesus is the Son of God.

Jesus made so many unique claims about Himself including that He is the Son of God. But, if the rattle of the resurrection had never happened, His claims would have no weight or significance. Lots  of people make lots of claims about a lot of things. It’s one thing to say it, it’s another thing to prove it. Without the resurrection He would be just like the millions who went before Him and the millions who came after. But here’s what Romans 1:4 says, “…and He was shown to be the Son of God when He was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord.” His resurrection is proof positive that Jesus is who He says He is. He said that He would be raised from the dead, and He was. He said He’s the Son of God, and He is! The resurrection shows that Jesus keeps His promises. There are few things worse than an unkept promise. “I’ll take care of that,” “I’ll be there to help,” “I’ll get back to you soon,” and then it doesn’t happen. And when a promise isn’t kept, there’s frustration and trust is broken. Jesus made this promise, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed intothe hands of his enemies. He will be killed, but on the third day He will be raised from the dead.” (Matthew 17:22,23). Jesus said He’d be raised from the dead, and He was! That He kept this promise (no doubt the hardest promise to keep) gives us confidence that He’ll keep every other promise He’s made. Years ago there was a little booklet entitled, ‘God’s Promises for Today.’ The truth that the promises printed in that booklet will be kept, and the truth that every promise made in the Bible will be kept, are made certain by the resurrection. He’s made promises to you, and He’ll keep them.

The resurrection confirms our justification.

It’s the scene of a courtroom. God is the Judge on the bench. The prosecutor is the Law of God that demands perfect compliance and obedience. The defendants are you and me. It’s an open and shut case. The verdict of ‘guilty’ is certain. But Jesus. But Jesus takes our place. But Jesus receives the penalty for our sin. And then this, “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. (Romans 4:25). In the rattle of the resurrection Jesus is vindicated, but in His vindication, we’re vindicated as well. We’re justified. The Judge drops the gavel with a loud ‘crack’ and declares us righteous through the blood of Jesus and the power of His resurrection!

The resurrection guarantees eternal life.

It was a heartbreaking day. Lazarus, Jesus’ friend, has died. Jesus goes to join Lazarus’ sisters, Mary and Martha, at the tomb of their brother. Jesus’ shares in their grief like He shares in ours and it says that Jesus wept. Martha understandably struggles and Jesus tells her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25,26) Jesus is the resurrection because He Himself was resurrected. He offers resurrected life to everyone who believes and the rattle of His resurrection guarantees that we can live forever. Do you believe this? Because, if you do, there’s an eternal home waiting just for you. The resurrection promises ultimate justice to the world. There’s so much injustice in our world. There’s so much inequality and unfairness. Who will make it right? Who can make it right? The Apostle Paul find himself in the great centre of Greek philosophy, Athens. He’s invited to share with the philosophers and teachers of the day the truth that he himself had accepted. In his presentation in the agora, he makes this statement,

“For He has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man He has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts17:31). The day will come when God will judge the world and on that day, true justice will be experienced. The wrong will be made right, the broken will be made whole and this is proven by the resurrection which itself sets right the spiritual disorder of the world. The resurrection enables us to live a resurrected life. The letter to the Colossians tells us this, “Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honour at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with  Christ in God. (Col. 3:1-3). We’ve been raised to new life with Christ. There’s a collective aspect to the rattle of the resurrection. Because we’ve been raised with Christ we aren’t forever bound to this life. Our lives are eternal. Our home is in heaven. Your ‘forever home’ isn’t here, your ‘forever home’ is up there! We’ve been raised to new life and we aren’t bound by the worries and cares of this world. Obviously we live in this world, but our motivations and commitments are different than before we knew Jesus. We’re in this world but we’re not of this world. We can live like we have a new life because, in fact, we do.

The resurrection gives us a living hope.

Hope sometimes seems so elusive. ‘I hope it’ll get better.’ ‘I hope I’ll have enough to pay the bills.’ ‘I hope it’ll all work out.’ It’s said that hope isn’t a good strategy but it certainly is a positive attitude to have when you’re going through a painful experience or you have fear of what the future may hold. The rattle of the resurrection gives us a living hope. Here’s what the Apostle Peter writes, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…” (1 Peter 1:3). So what is this ‘living hope’ that the resurrection of Jesus provides? It’s the hope of His promises. It’s the hope of His presence. It’s the hope of His help. It’s the hope of His comfort. It’s the hope of His strength. It’s the hope of His forgiveness. It’s the hope of His freedom. It’s the hope that He makes all things new. And it’s the hope that one day, He will reconcile everything to Himself and we’ll live with Jesus forever! And it’s not just a ‘someday’ hope. It’s a hope for right now. It’s a living hope.

The rattle of the resurrection. The world may feel like it’s unstable. Your life may feel like it’s uncertain. But there’s one shaking that makes all the difference and that’s the rattle of the resurrection! There’s new life in Jesus and you can have your own resurrection and join Him in new life today!

Peter McIntosh is the lead pastor at Bethel. He is passionate about seeing God’s people come alive in their faith and share that faith with everyone they know. Peter believes that the presence of God is the distinguishing mark of the church. He and Sandra have one daughter, Ashton, and an awesome son in law, Simon, and 2 amazing grand daughters, Winter and Vienna.