A woman looking out of her window saw her German shepherd shaking the neighbor’s rabbit. Her family did not get along well with these neighbors, so she knew this was going to be a disaster. So she wrestled the dead rabbit out of its mouth. She panicked and did not know what to do, but then she got an idea. She grabbed the rabbit, took it inside, gave it a bath, blow dried it to its original fluffiness, combed it until that rabbit was looking good, snuck into the neighbor’s yard, and propped the rabbit back up in its cage. An hour later she heard screams coming from next door. She went next door and asked her neighbor, “What’s going on?” Her neighbor cried, “Our rabbit! Our rabbit! He died two days ago. We buried him, and now he’s back!”
Most people know that rabbits and rabbis tend to stay dead! But Jesus is not an ordinary rabbi or teacher; he did rise from the grave. But what difference does the resurrection make? Let’s see Matthew’s account.
1 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. 2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.
4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Matthew 28:1-6
Jesus’ resurrection changes everything: our past, present, and future!
Jesus raising from the dead shows that He is not just another mortal religious leader. In spite of the predictions of many, the historical record shows that the movement Jesus Christ started the church still thrives and grows, precisely because He still lives. For example, Voltaire, the famous French philosopher once said that the Bible and Christianity would pass within a hundred years. Voltaire died about two and a half centuries ago and the church of Jesus Christ is still here and the Bible, is still the best-selling book of all time. In 1882 Friedrich Nietzsche said, “God is dead,” because He believed the dawn of science would be the doom of the Christian faith. He was obviously wrong. You may have heard a play on Nietzsche’s famous statement. If not, here’s how it goes:
“GOD IS DEAD!” – Nietzsche
“NIETZSCHE is dead!”— God
Max Lucado sums this all up by saying, “Everyone who has tried to bury the Christian faith has discovered the same thing. It won’t stay buried any more than its Founder.” The movement Jesus Christ started, the church, is still here because Jesus is still here. His resurrection proved that Jesus was indeed Who He claimed to be.
As we look at the past, Jesus Christ has changed virtually every aspect of human life. Literally everything Jesus touched has been transformed. He touched time itself, and His birthday alters the way that we measure history. Every atheist who writes a date is forced to acknowledge Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Jesus has transformed art and music. Without Jesus there would be no Last Supper by Da Vinci, no Madonna. Without His life to inspire it, the most beautiful music that has ever been put on score, sung by a voice, or played by an instrument would never have been heard. Jesus has also transformed architecture. To take Him out of history, would mean we would have to tear down all the churches and beautiful cathedrals around the world. Jesus life inspired the way humanity responds to the needy. Our Lord set the great example of helping the poor, of caring for the poverty-stricken and downtrodden. He asks His followers to do the same. Without Jesus’ life and example there would be no Red Cross, no Salvation Army, no World Vision, no Samaritan’s Purse, and no Compassion International. Many historians attribute the creation of orphanages and the hospital to Christianity because the first hospitals and orphanages were started by believers.
When our world has been hit by a disaster like Katrina in our gulf region or Haiti with its earthquake or India and the Tsunami thousands of Jesus’ followers hurry to the area to help. They are usually the first to do so and many times the most organized.
We could go on and on and on listing Jesus’ impact on education and civil rights and science and government and economics and basic morality because it is easy to look back over the pages of history and see the impact that Jesus’ resurrection has had.
On a personal note, Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection removes of all our sins when we confess them. Christ has “washed away our sins” and “cleansed us of all unrighteousness.” We are righteous in God’s eyes because of Jesus. Jesus Resurrection changes our past and
Jesus Resurrection changes our PRESENT.
As a follower of Christ we know the difference our risen indwelling Jesus makes in our day to day lives. We know the peace of His still small voice. We know how He calms our fears. We know the results of His guidance in life’s decisions. We know the power He gives us to live abundant lives! It was Jesus’ continued living presence with them, even after His ascension, that motivated and empowered the first disciples to change. They went from cowards hiding behind locked doors to bold evangelists sharing the life-changing message of the Gospel with people in Jerusalem and Judea and the uttermost parts of the earth. They literally turned the world upside down—because Jesus lived in them empowering them to do so.
Jesus’ disciples didn’t “know better” because they knew Jesus had risen. They saw Him. They ate with Him. And on top of that, after Pentecost, they felt Him move into their hearts. The reason the Gospel message is just as fresh, relevant, and powerful today as it was when it was first preached and written is because Jesus still lives! He lives in us and gives us the power to live as He lived. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead can vitalize the most depressed, disillusioned, and defeated person. As Paul puts it in Romans 8:11, “Once the Spirit of Him Who raised Christ Jesus from the dead lives within you He will, by the same Spirit, bring to your whole being new strength and vitality.”
Bruce Larson writes, “The events of Easter cannot be reduced to a creed or a philosophy. We are not asked to believe the doctrine of the resurrection. We are asked to meet this Person raised from the dead. In faith, we move from belief in a doctrine to knowledge of a Person. Ultimate truth is a Person. We meet Him. He is alive.”
Have you met this Person? Does He live in your heart? Do you know the Risen Jesus? I do. He’s my closest companion. He’s the Solid Rock of my life. He’s my Anchor — my Fortress. I couldn’t do anything without His power and presence because He’s not in a tomb. He’s in my heart—because He is risen! He is risen indeed!