What Easter Gives Us Part 1
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
“Declared to be the Son of God with power...by the resurrection from the dead.” (Romans 1:3-4).
Title: What Easter Gives Us
Text: “Declared to be the Son of God with power...by the resurrection from the dead.”
Bible Reading: Romans 1:1–4, 4:24–25, and 8:11
Just after World War II, a Preacher by the name of William Sangster, came down with a disease that gradually paralyzed him. Eventually, even his vocal cords were paralyzed. On Easter Sunday, his last Easter on earth, his daughter came to visit. Using stiffened fingers, he scribbled this message to her: “How terrible to wake up on Easter and have no voice with which to shout, ‘He is risen!’” Then, pausing a moment, he added, “But it is even worse to have a voice and not want to shout.” You and I should feel like shouting today, because this is Easter, and Christ has risen from the dead.
But, just what does that mean to us here and now, in this twenty-first century? The answer is in the Book of Romans. It is Paul’s greatest declaration of Christian truth. Three times in Romans, the Apostle Paul refers to the great results of Easter. He says that they are:
1. Easter confirmed Christ’s identity.
2. Easter canceled sin’s penalty.
3. Because of Easter, we can celebrate eternal life.
So, you can see, Easter has a lot to give the Christian man and woman.
The resurrection of Jesus is the very heart and soul of the Gospel. In simple terms, the gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. His death is very important, but where would we be without the resurrection? The resurrection was so important to the Early Church that it became their message to the world. It’s a shame that today, that in most of our churches, the resurrection message is relegated to Easter Sunday only. It shouldn’t be that way, but it is.
Our message to the world should be the same as the Early Church—Jesus is alive! And we don’t have to wait until Easter to tell others.And for the Christian, Easter should be an exciting time and a happy time. So, let’s look at what it is that Easter gives us.
First, Easter Gives Us Confirmation of Christ’s Identity (Rom.1:1–4).It proves who He is. Paul begins his letter to the Romans with a significant reference to Easter. He writes, “Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” This passage answers a couple of very important questions. These questions are often debated by great preachers and theologians in great universities, but the answers are simple and Paul has the answers.
The first question is, “How do we know Jesus Christ was truly human—that He was a man?” Paul answers, “We know because He descended from the seed of David.” You can trace His lineage right back to that great king of Israel.It’s right there in the genealogy given in the first chapter of Mathew. He was the descendent of a historical king, and as such, He was spoken of in Old Testament prophecy, when it said that the Messiah will set upon the throne of David. In the New Testament, Jesus is even called the Son of David.
The second question is, “How do we know He was truly divine—that He was God?” Paul answers, “The Resurrection verified it.” You see, the Resurrection did not make Him the Son of God; it simply revealed who He was. His resurrection proves that He was accurate when He said, “…“You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world” (John 8:23). Jesus came from heaven to earth, and He lived as a man.He came to save mankind, through His death on a cross. Along the way to the cross, He walked the dusty roads of Palestine, teaching His disciples and doing many wonderful things.But the days of walking along the dusty roads in Israel are over now; He has come back from the dead in mighty power. His resurrection proves He is the Son of God.
If Jesus had lived a wonderful life and died a heroic death, and if that had been the end of Him, He might have been listed with the great and heroic, but He would have simply been one among many. However, His uniqueness is guaranteed forever by His resurrection. The others are dead and gone and have left behind only a memory. But Jesus lives on, and His presence is within us. He is still mighty; He has great power.
Many people have the mistaken view that other founders of the world’s religions claimed to be God, but that isn’t so. Abraham and Moses, the founders of Judaism, didn’t claim to be God. Mohammed, founder of Islam, didn’t claim to be Allah, and Buddha didn’t claim to be God. Among the leaders of the world’s best-known religions, only Jesus claimed to be God.
But what proof did He give? Let me answer that question with an illustration. If a police officer knocked on my door late at night, I’d ask to see his credentials before letting him into my house. Just because people claim to be something doesn’t mean they are. Christ claimed to be God, but what were His credentials? He said, “Destroy this temple (referring to His body), and in three days I will raise it up” (John 1:19). He said, “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth ” (Matt.12:40). He taught that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected and killed, and after three days rise again (Mark 8:31). Easter fulfilled those promises and bear out His claim to be God.
We follow a living Savior, who loves us. That’s important! Let me illustrate how important it is that Jesus was raised from the dead.If you became lost in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where the undergrowth is so deep and dense that in some areas you might never be found again, what would you do? Suppose you came upon two park rangers, both of them wearing their traditional green uniforms. But suppose one of them was alive, and the other was dead from a heart attack. Which would you want to follow out of the woods? When it comes to eternal matters, who are you willing to follow? The dead leaders of the world’s religions or the only founder of a major religion who claimed to be God and who proved it by rising from the dead. Follow Jesus, because He is God and He proved it.
The second result of Easter is that It Gives Us the Cancellation of Sin’s Penalty (Rom.4:24–25). When talking about the righteousness of Christ, Paul had this to say: “It (the righteousness of Christ) shall be imputed (or assigned) to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.”
The Bible Knowledge Commentary puts it like this: “Christ’s death as God’s sacrificial Lamb (John 1:29) was to pay the redemptive price for the sins of all people (Rom.3:24) so that God might be free to forgive those who respond by faith to that provision. Christ’s resurrection was the proof (or demonstration) of God’s acceptance of Jesus’ sacrifice (Rom.1:4). Thus because He lives, God can credit His provided righteousness to the account of every person who responds by faith to that offer.” Now, that’s a little hard to follow, so let me see if I can make it a little easier to understand. At Calvary, our sins were put on Christ’s account; or another way to explain what took place is to say that we ran up a debt of sin, but Jesus paid our bill.
And the other thing that happens when you trust Christ is that God puts Christ’s righteousness on your account. “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus lived a sinless life, even though He was tempted more than any man; therefore, He was righteous in the eyes of God. And when we place our faith in Him, something happens; we receive His righteousness by God giving it to us. There isn’t a thing anyone can do to become clothed with God’s righteousness except have faith in Jesus Christ as his Savior from sin. What can be more wonderful than to know that your sins are forgiven?