DayBreaks for 4/28/17: Why Christ HAD to Rise
Note: Galen is traveling this week.
From the DayBreaks archive, April 2007:
Easter is over, but Christ is still risen! It seems that many forget in the hustle of everyday life that such an earth-shattering event really did take place. Maybe saying it was earth-shattering is a bit strong – many alive on the face of the earth at the time never heard about it in their lifetimes – they just didn’t have that opportunity. And being such scientifically minded moderns as we are, we find it a bit hard to believe that something that happened so long ago in the days of yore when science was, well, rather unscientific, we may be a bit skeptical about the resurrection.
In John 20, it says (talking about the disciples after Jesus resurrection and before Jesus had appeared to them), They did not yet understand the Scriptures that Jesus had to rise from the dead. I can hardly blame them, even though Jesus had told them numerous times, in very plain language, that he would rise from the dead on the third day.
But this year, as I read that passage, I was struck by the simple word “had”. It is a significant word – the writer could have said that they didn’t understand that Jesus would rise from the dead, but that’s not what he said. John said Jesus “had” to rise from the dead. And that got me thinking. Why did Jesus have to rise? Several reasons, I think:
FIRST: If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, it would mean that there was something (death) in the universe that is more powerful than God, which is impossible given the definition of God and His omnipotence. If Jesus (God with us) could not raise himself from the dead, he couldn’t possibly have been God. But if he could raise himself from the tomb, then surely He must be God!
SECOND: Life has, in spite of appearances, always been stronger than death. Consider how it works with a grain of wheat: one grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, but that one grain of wheat gives life eventually to thousands of grains of wheat in subsequent generations. Think of the great people of the past and what comes to mind? Is it not their life, and not their death? We speak of such people as “living on” in their deeds, words, thoughts. And, who hasn’t seen a seed that has sprouted and grown through inches of asphalt, cement or even rock? Why? Because life is stronger than death, and Jesus was “the Way, the Truth, and the LIFE.”
FINALLY: I preach and teach about the cross a great deal. I make no apologies for that. But recently I have wondered if I’ve emphasize that too much and underemphasized the resurrection of Christ. After all, the apostles went everywhere teaching and preaching the resurrection. Many people were crucified during the time of Christ – but what made him unique was the resurrection! What good would it have been if Jesus had lived a sinless life and if God had accepted Jesus’ sacrificial death for us, but Jesus hadn’t risen? Paul is clear in Corinthians: if Christ isn’t risen, then there is and will be no resurrection for anyone. Here’s the point: if Jesus perfect life ended with the grave, our sins could have been forgiven, but so what? If he didn’t rise, we won’t rise. We’d lie in the grave and become dust and remain dust – eternally. And those are some of the key reasons Jesus had to rise from the dead.
Let me share the brilliant observation by theologian Jaroslav Pelikan: “If Christ is risen from the dead, then nothing else matters; if Christ is not risen from the dead, then nothing else matters.” You see, it all depends on Christ and his resurrection.
PRAYER: I thank You, Father, for the little word “had” – that Jesus “had” to rise from the dead. Thank You that He did rise, and that because he has risen, nothing else in this universe really matters. The reality of His resurrection is the dominant fact of all the universe. May we live as if we truly believe He is risen from the dead!. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.