Prayer of Easter, Resurrection Day

Hallelujah! The Lord is Risen! Hallelujah!

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us this day.
May this meal be blessed as we gather to celebrate together.
May your love be shared amongst us as we enjoy the gift of fellowship.
May we remember to offer grace and forgiveness that you have freely given us,
And may we always give thanks for your sacrificial love.
Amen.

The Resurrection of Christ, by Anthony van Dyck, 1631. Flemish. Movement: Baroque.

Comment on art: Wonderful…simply wonderful! This would be one of my favorite resurrection art pieces. It is filled with action and passion. The emotions of shock and glory of Jesus resurrecting is depicted in this extremely moving piece.

Easter resurrection – Happy Easter

Easter - Angel Sits on StoneSome people don’t believe that there is a resurrection.  They believe that once they have passed on from this life, there will be no other life in the future. They live, they die and memories of themselves will just fizzle away like as if they had never existed.  The Sadducees (who are different from Pharisees) didn’t believe in the resurrection.  There are some religions in the world today that don’t believe in the after-life.  If that’s the case, what purpose is there in living this life?  Why not just “live it up” while we’re here now?

We as Christians follow what Christ has taught us.  He said to the other crucified criminal next to him on the other cross that “Truly, I tell you, today, you will be with me in paradise” (Lk.23:43).  This was a promise he made to this criminal who repented of his sins.  Jesus taught about a resurrection.   There will be a resurrection of the all the dead who died believing in Jesus as Christ, the anointed One.

But why should we believe this?  We believe it because Christ has indeed risen from the dead. There are historical non-biblical documents written by non-biblical writers who wrote that there was indeed a man named Jesus who was crucified on the cross and that he was accused of going against the Roman government (ex. Josephus, Pliny, Tacitus, Suetonius).  Plus dozens of Christian historians from the 1-2 c. report his resurrection as a fact.  And the four gospels say that he has risen from the dead.  His body was not left in the tomb, but was found empty.  He was witnessed by over 500 followers in the same place at the same time (read 1 Cor. 15:6).

What we have in this life is only a short brief period of chronological time. Paul wrote in Colossians 3:2-3: Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God”.

What this means is that our real life, the everlasting life that is coming is the life that we have living with Jesus.  When we know that there is something greater to look forward to in the future, we will feel an amazing amount of freedom to just rest and to “be”. To just rest and “be” here on earth can free us from the worries of this life. It means we won’t have to strive or work like as if it were life and death. We can take it easy. It means that we can give up all the things that cause us to worry, and put the uncertain things into God’s hands. And God will give you an amazing peace that no human mind without of God can ever imagine. What this also means is that you will have peace in the next life, and also peace in this life.

The Out-From-Amongst Resurrected Jesus

In Philippians 3:10-11, Paul said something profound and he connects it to the resurrection. He said, “I want to know Christ–yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead”.

It seems like Paul is only hoping to attain the resurrection from the dead. It sounds like he is not sure, but that’s not the case. What he is talking about is not just the resurrection from the dead. Paul is talk about a second resurrection (not the first resurrection.

In Jewish Pharisaical belief, they don’t think of the resurrection as most Christians do. They believe there is the first resurrection and a second resurrection. In the first resurrection, all the dead will rise again to be judged. Both those who died in Christ, and those who die outside of Christ… both the sheep and the goats… both the wheat and the tares… will all rise again. This is a general resurrection in which all people will be resurrected. But there is also the second resurrection is one where a person is called out from, to stand out from.

The most common Greek word for resurrection is anastasia (“standing up again”, or “to rise again”). This is the general resurrection of all. But In Philippians 3:11, Paul did not use this word. Paul used a special word that’s only noticeable in the original Greek and is ignored in all English translations. Paul used the word, “ex-anastasis”. The “ex” means “out among”. This expression means “out-up- standing of the out-of-dead-ones.” Paul wanted to stand up again from among the dead. In other words, Paul saw a resurrection in which only some will stand up; others will remain dead. He’s not talking about the general resurrection.

Paul had looked forward to “arrive at” or to attain to a very special goal. Attain (Gk: katantao) means “to arrive at.” In other words, Paul’s goal was to one day arrive at the resurrection (“ex-anastasis”) from the dead, the same resurrection that his Lord had attained. In desiring to die as his Lord died, Paul was seeking to rise from among the dead just as the Lord rose as the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep (1 Corinthians 15:20).

If we read further in Phil. 3:14, Paul says, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” This goal to win the prize that God has called him to is the “ex-anastasis” type of resurrection.

The Post-Resurrected Jesus: raised in a physical body

It’s the first Sunday of Easter.  Doubters of the resurrection may prefer to say that Jesus was only a spirit-being (like Casper the Friendly Ghost). By refusing to believe that Jesus was not raised from death in a physical body, one may conveniently avoid having to deal with a God who intervenes in human affairs.  However, we Christians do believe in that Jesus was raised with an imperishable physical body .  The onus is not on us to prove this; the onus is on doubters to disprove this.

In the New Testament, the word used for “spirit” is pneuma; however, Paul in First Corinthians 15:44 used the words: soma pneuma (“σωμα πνευματικον”) which means “spiritual body”. This is the type of body that we, as believers in Jesus, will also be raised with.  A week after Jesus had resurrected, Scripture says he was still around for at least one week before his ascension (John 20:26). The resurrected Jesus walked around, made himself known to many people, and he showed himself in a resurrected spiritual-physical body to over 500 people. He was definitely not in hiding.  The bible is clear about the form of Jesus’ resurrected body.  The onus is on doubters to disprove that Jesus resurrected in a physical-spiritual body.
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Bible passages on the post-resurrected Jesus:

John 20:19-23  Enters locked room
John 20:24-29  Doubting Thomas
John 21:1-14  Another big catch
Luke 24:13-35  Road to Emmaus
Matthew 28; Mark 16:9  Women witnesses
1 Cor. 15:6  Five hundred witnesses/followers
1 Cor. 15:8   Apostle Paul

A case for the resurrection of Jesus

Jesus is risen. That is why we as Christians celebrate Easter.
But for more Christians are planted seeds of doubt these days.  Science may try to ‘poke holes into the resurrected Jesus’ [ 😉 above image], but it cannot completely disprove that Jesus’ resurrection from death is impossible and unverifiable.

Is the Christian faith based on science and reliability of evidence? No, I think not.  Biblical and archeaological scholarship may be, but faith in a risen Christ  is based on faith, but not blind faith. Faith is the knowing through revelation from God’s Holy Spirit.  However, revelation and faith cannot be disproven by science either. The two are not equivalent, but yet, are inclusive of one another and not exclusive.  Biblical research does back up  the resurrection of Jesus.

There are resources for churches that give recent biblical research on the resurrection. Here’s a sample of one from Credo House called A Case for the Resurrection of Jesus by Dr. Mike Licona and Michael Patton that would be worth considering to get for your church.