Years ago, I was in a restaurant in Oklahoma City where a group of college students at the table next to me were discussing what they had learned in class that day, regarding the resurrection of Jesus. As I listened, one student essentially espoused a popular theory that states Jesus merely passed out on the cross and was revived on the cool floor of the tomb. He then lived out the rest of his life in a monastery where he died of natural causes. To my shock, all of the students were in hearty agreement that this theory was correct and the Gospel accounts were wrong.
For Christians, the resurrection of Jesus is an indispensable doctrine. Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 15 that if Jesus is not bodily raised from the dead, then the core tenets of Christianity collapse, Scripture is false, our faith is in vain and we would still be condemned in our sin.
Tim Keller, in his book “The Reason for God” captures the essentialness of Jesus’ resurrection when he writes: “If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that He said; if He didn’t rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what He said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like His teaching but whether or not He rose from the dead.”
Easter season is a good time to remind ourselves not only of the factual and doctrinal realities involving Jesus’ resurrection, but also how it impacts our everyday lives as we follow Him. In Matthew’s account of the resurrection (28:1-15), the angel at the empty tomb gives four imperative verbs to the women who are present, “Come, see the place where He lay. Then go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead” (vv. 6-7). These verbs are great reminders of what the resurrection means for us now and for eternity.
The first imperative is “come.” The angel invites the women, no doubt terrified to be in the presence of the angel, to come closer to the tomb. Jesus invites us to lay aside whatever fears we face in life or fears we have about following Him. The empty tomb means there is hope for me. It means there is an invitation by God to come to Him with all my troubles, sin, and fears and rest in Him. The resurrection means I don’t have to be afraid of what might come in this life or in eternity.
The second imperative is “see.” The empty tomb was evidence to the women that Jesus was who He said He was and did what He said He would do. Jesus had in fact died, risen from the dead and did it all to save us from our sin. The emptiness of the tomb gives us confidence that we are believing and attaching our lives to the truth.
The third imperative is “go.” The women didn’t stand around the tomb and theorize on what the angel told them. They left! They went to tell the others. The resurrection changes our lives. The fact that He is risen means He is alive today. When we experience the risen Christ, we do not just stand there as if nothing happened. We go! There is life to be lived for Christ!
The fourth imperative is “tell.” The resurrection means there is a story to tell, but what if we never “go” and live our lives for Christ, and what if we never “tell” anyone the Good News? What might happen if you told that child about Jesus who is struggling through the divorce of his or her parents? What if you told that student about Jesus who is facing untold peer pressure at school? What if you told the young couple about Jesus whose marriage is about to end? What if you told the middle-aged couple about Jesus who struggles with their teenage children or the onset of the empty nest? What if you told the elderly couple about Jesus who wonders what there will be at the end of their life? What if? How might the lives of these people be changed if you are willing to go and tell—to invite people to come and see?
The resurrection reminds us of where everything is headed and the goal we are all striving toward—eternal life with Jesus. Because Jesus rose from the dead, we will rise from the dead also. Because He lives, you will live (John 14:19)! This Easter, let’s rejoice over the fact of our Savior’s resurrection and the difference that makes in our lives both today and for eternity.