Christians have been reciting the Apostles’ Creed in its various forms for at least 1,700 years. During the Easter season, there is a little extra oomph in the phrase, “I believe in the resurrection of the body”, because the Resurrection of the body is a very big deal. In fact the Apostle Paul said that if the Resurrection of the body doesn’t happen our faith is empty and has no meaning. "For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins".
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Matthew 27:62- 28:6 ESV The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, "Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, 'After three days I will rise.' Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, 'He has risen from the dead,' and the last fraud will be worse than the first." Pilate said to them, "You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can." So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church*,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
Christians have been reciting the Apostles’ Creed in its various forms for at least 1,700 years. During the Easter season, there is a little extra oomph in the phrase, “I believe in the resurrection of the body”, because the Resurrection of the body is a very big deal.
In fact the Apostle Paul said that if the Resurrection of the body doesn’t happen our faith is empty and has no meaning.
1 Corinthians 15:12-17 ESV Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.
The physical resurrection of Christ is the culmination of God’s great work of rescuing the human race through the the sacrifice and blood of Jesus.
Romans 3:21-26 ESV But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Hebrews 9:11-14 ESV But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
The Resurrection demonstrates the Father’s approval of the Son’s work on our behalf. God’s favor and forgiveness now rest upon us, and those who believe it. Christ's resurrection also guarantees ours.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-16 ESV But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
Easter celebrates not only the spirit of Christ coming back to life but his body as well. That is the important point His physical body came back to life. It was a glorified body, a body that could come through walls and appear suddenly but still a physical body.
Luke 24:36-39 ESV As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, "Peace to you!" But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. And he said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have."
When he arose from the grave, the world had to acknowledge that all of his former words and deeds were true.
Mark 9:30-31 ESV They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And he did not want anyone to know, for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, "The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise."
Matthew 17:22-23 ESV As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, "The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day." And they were greatly distressed.
Luke 9:21-22 ESV And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, saying, "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised."
Jesus' enemies remembered that He had said he would rise from the dead, that’s why they wanted His tomb sealed.
Matthew 27:62-63 ESV The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, "Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, 'After three days I will rise.'
With the fear of a potential resurrection of Jesus Christ in his enemies’ minds, they proceeded to try to prevent any incident that might lead people to believe that the resurrection actually occurred.
I. Attempts to prevent Jesus’s resurrection.
The religious leaders took it on themselves to try to prevent an event that would make the people think that Christ was raised from the dead. They had already come to Pilate out of hatred and ignorance seeking to destroy Jesus.
Matthew 27:1-2 ESV When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death. And they bound him and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate the governor.
Luke 23:1-5 ESV Then the whole company of them arose and brought him before Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, "We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king." And Pilate asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" And he answered him, "You have said so." Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, "I find no guilt in this man." But they were urgent, saying, "He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place."
So Pilate sentenced Jesus and He was crucified. We all know the story of Jesus’ death as written in all the gospels.
John 19:28-30 ESV After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), "I thirst." A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, "It is finished," and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Now that he had been killed, they were going to see that his apparent defeat remained a reality. They continued to manipulate Pilate.
Pilate had seen and heard enough about this Jesus Christ and he certainly did not want a rumor circulating about Jesus’s resurrection, so he gave the chief priests and Pharisees a detachment of soldiers, ageeing with their efforts to secure the tomb, and issued the weakest statement of encouragement the world has ever known.
Matthew 27:62-66 ESV The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, "Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, 'After three days I will rise.' Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, 'He has risen from the dead,' and the last fraud will be worse than the first." Pilate said to them, "You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can." So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.
What a scene of futility—mere men seeking to secure a tomb that God himself had already declared would be opened. Remember Jesus had already said that He would be raised.
Matthew 16:21 ESV From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.
Soldiers in regimented obedience.
The soldiers assigned to guard the tomb did what soldiers do. They obeyed. They went to the grave site and made sure the rock was sufficiently placed in the tomb’s entrance. They then sealed the rock, thus making it a crime against the law of the Roman government for the tomb to be opened. Then, to make sure it was enforced, the soldiers stood guard by the tomb.
We know what happened next
Matthew 28:1-4 ESV Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men.
II. Attempts to deny the resurrection.
The soldiers’ attempts proved futile. God moved, and his Son arose from the tomb eternally victorious over death. Jesus’s prophecy had been undeniably fulfilled.
The soldiers appointed to guard the tomb ended up announcing His resurrection.
Matthew 28:11 ESV While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place.
Attempts to prevent Jesus’s resurrection had failed. Now the leaders needed to come up with a scheme to try to cover up what Jesus’ followers were sure to claim, that Jesus has risen just like He said that He would. To do this they needed to get the cooperation of the soldiers.The Jewish leaders bribed them and promised them amnesty. They made the soldiers the “fall guys.”
The soldiers had to say that they fell asleep and the disciples came and stole Jesus’ body.
Matthew 28:12-15 ESV And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers and said, "Tell people, 'His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.' And if this comes to the governor's ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble." So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day.
Pilate wouldn't be a problem and they knew it. After all, they were the ones who had encouraged him to secure the tomb in the first place. Why should he become overly concerned at this new turn of events? He could be persuaded.
III. Attempts to obscure the resurrection.
You and I cringe when we read this story of those who tried to prevent and then deny the resurrection. Yet an even greater attempt is being made against the resurrection today. It is impossible to deny the fact of the living Lord. It is insanity to pretend the resurrection didn’t occur. So the tactic of the enemy today is to obscure the meaning of Christ’s resurrection.
When most people think of Easter today, they think in terms of eggs, bunnies, candy, and new clothes. It is not a denial of the resurrection, but rather a diversion. The excitement that the average child experiences at Easter time is not founded in the fact of Christ’s resurrection, but in the expectation of an Easter basket, an egg hunt, a new suit or dress, and a visit to Grandma’s house.
Easter is one of the most lucrative times of the year for and merchants. Candy, toy, and clothing sales rise as people try to keep up with their friends and neighbors by providing the best gifts for their children and the most fashionable clothing for the entire family.
Is the resurrection being denied? No.
Holiday instead of “holy day.”
Historically, Easter was the holy day that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Easter has now become an long vacation weekend. The holy day has become a holiday.
IV. The real purpose of the resurrection.
The Resurrection reveled the authority of Jesus Christ. He conquered death by his release from its clutches. His resurrection validated all of his teaching while on earth.
John 11:24-26 ESV Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day." Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?"
John 3:16 ESV "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Luke 24:46-48 (ESV)46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead,47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.48 You are witnesses of these things.
Determine destiny. The resurrection of Jesus Christ actually determines the destiny of humanity.
1 Corinthians 15:20-22 ESV But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
As individuals associate themselves with the living, resurrected Christ, they are given a new life. Old things are passed away. All things are become new.
2 Corinthians 5:16-17 ESV From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
The resurrection is the triumphant and glorious victory for every believer. Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose the third day according to the Scriptures.
1 Corinthians 15:3-7 ESV For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.
The resurrection changes everything!
First, it demonstrates the truth of everything Jesus said.
Romans 1:4 says, “Jesus was declared to be the Son of God with power by His resurrection.” God the Father declared Jesus to be His Son by raising Him from the dead.
Romans 1:1-6 (ESV)1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures,3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations,6 including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,
Second, it demonstrates that Jesus offered a perfect sacrifice. The Father accepted His sacrifice on the cross. This was demonstrated by the resurrection.
Third, it shows that Jesus is coming again to judge this world.
Acts 17:30-31 (ESV)30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
And He is coming again!
Why is the resurrection of Jesus Christ important? It proves who Jesus is. It demonstrates that God accepted Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf. It shows that God has the power to raise us from the dead. It guarantees that the bodies of those who believe in Christ will not remain dead but will be resurrected unto eternal life.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 ESV For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
Because of the resurrection everything has changed. This is the clear teaching of the Bible. This is the gracious offer of eternal life to all who repent and believe and confess, “Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.”
This is an excellent time to consider your opinion about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Is it a simple fact characterized by the worldly trimmings of eggs, bunnies, and new clothes? Or is it a moving force that has caused you to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you, too, have conquered death through him?
” Won’t you put your faith and trust in Jesus today?
The Gospel in its simplest affirmation? “Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again.”