I can’t imagine what it must have been like for the first disciples. Jesus clearly warned that He would be betrayed, tortured and crucified. That made sense. Over His three years of ministry, Jesus managed to offend just about everyone, especially religious authorities.
Large crowds that once followed Him had all but dwindled away. But Jesus also taught that three days after His death, He would rise again to life. A claim probably acknowledged by his disciples as some sort of “spiritual” resurrection. A spiritual awakening that would somehow enlighten the lives of those choosing to believe.
Having witnessed Jesus’ horrific death, it must have rocked their souls to have Him standing in front of them fully alive. Earlier that day, a couple of His followers visited His tomb and claimed it was empty. Some reported to have seen Him and talked with Him. Both explainable events considering the circumstances. The Romans could have stolen the body of Jesus to prevent the disciples from hiding it and claiming Jesus had risen from the dead. People experiencing deep grief and sorrow can project manifestations of loved ones.
But there were no explanations for what they experienced when Jesus appeared in the Upper Room — except the reality of the glorious, bodily resurrection of their Master and Teacher. Through weeks to come, Jesus would appear several times, to many people – one group numbering over 500 — making the point undeniably certain: He is risen from the grave and very much alive.
No event has impacted the world as much as this one.
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First, the bodily resurrection of Jesus was the defining proof that Jesus was and is who He claimed to be — the Son of God, the promised Messiah and the Savior of the world. No one on the face of this planet has ever produced such credentials or left such a calling card!
Second, the bodily resurrection proved that God accepted the death of Jesus on the cross as the full and final payment for every sin of every human past, present and future. The resurrection was God’s divine “Yes! It is finished!” Every debt we owe to God erased. The ransom on our heads paid in full. We’re freed from the bondage and tyranny of sin that gripped our lives.
Third, Jesus’ resurrection is the guarantee given to all humanity that we too, can know the very same power of God — in the here and now, and forever.
The Bible says, “The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead … will give life to your mortal body by this same Spirit living within you.” (Romans 8:11)
The very same God who breathed new life into Jesus’ dead body can today, right now, breathe the atmosphere of heaven into your life. You can live with confident assurance that you’re a child of God and part of His forever family. Easter reminds us that death no longer holds the final trump card. Heaven is yours! And the best part: it all begins the moment we say, “Yes!”
As our communities and nations continue to slowly arise like the flowers of spring, let this Easter be a defining moment of your life!
The Rev. William Thomas is pastor at Hereford United Methodist Church. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.