[Jesus] was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead.
Equally important to Christ’s death is His resurrection. You see, unlike people who claim to have near-death experiences where they get to the edge of death, see something, and come back to tell us what they saw, Jesus did not have a near-death experience. He had a death experience. He actually died, and God delivered Him from the grave. Why is that important to us? There are several things about Christ’s resurrection that make it a pivotal event for each of us.
First of all, Christ’s resurrection was prophesied by Christ Himself. The resurrection was not something that was added on by Jesus’ followers decades later to make a good story better. No, it was a part of what Christ taught. Every time Jesus talked about His death, He also talked about His resurrection. His resurrection would be the signal proof that Jesus was exactly who He said He was. Romans 1:4 says Jesus Christ “was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead.” The resurrection was the proof that Jesus was who He said He was.
Second, Christ’s resurrection was proclaimed by the apostles. The resurrection was not simply a postscript to the apostles’ teaching. It was a part of their core teaching that Jesus had been raised from the dead. In his sermon at Pentecost preached just weeks after the death of Christ, Peter preached to the same people who had crucified Christ earlier. He said in Acts 2:23-24, “This Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.” He continued, “This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses” (2:32).
Think about this: if Jesus were still in the tomb, that crowd would have laughed Peter off the temple steps when he claimed a resurrection. But they did not do that. Instead, the Bible says they were “pierced to the heart” by that message (2:37). And they said, “What shall we do?” And Peter said, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (2:38). Thousands of Jews responded that day to the gospel. Why did they respond to it? Because the tomb was empty.
The message of the resurrection was not added on years later; it was a part of the earliest teaching of the apostles. You know, one of the greatest single proofs of the truth of the resurrection is the metamorphosis that took place in the hearts of the disciples in just a three-day period. In the days leading up to the crucifixion, they almost all deserted Jesus, trying to save their own skin. Peter denied Christ three times to save his hide. Then suddenly, overnight, they were transformed into courageous people who were willing to die for what they believed in. What changed them? They saw the resurrected Jesus.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Easter: The Passion and the Promise” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.