Thanking God for Saving by the Resurrection

Because he arose,
We will arise.
We are saved by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Three hours of darkness had transformed the landscape outside Jerusalem while Jesus hung, suffering and dying, to a cross. His family, his followers, Roman Soldiers, and scoffing passersby had all cried out, some in prayer and lament, others in mockery and insults. With darkness would have come uncertainty, restlessness, fear. It was early afternoon on a Spring day, after all. Then he had died. A soldier had exclaimed that Jesus was a son of God (Luke 23:47), that he was “surely…the Son of God” (Mark 15:39).

The next day, the Sabbath, was also a day of darkness for the followers of Jesus, a day of darkness for the soul. Jesus had died. Their hopes and dreams for him as Messiah seemed crushed. Some hid behind locked doors. They feared arrest. They grieved. Jesus had died and with him, their vision of a future with him as their king.

The day after the Sabbath began in darkness. A few grieving women went to the tomb where Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had placed the lifeless body of Jesus. Then everything changed:

“There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men” (Matthew 28:2-4).

Light had invaded the darkness. Fear and doubt remained. The angel spoke to the women,

“Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said…” (Matthew 28:5-6).

The women still fear, but they still follow the angel’s subsequent instruction to go tell the other disciples that Jesus had arisen from the dead. Even after the male disciples heard and ran to confirm for themselves that the tomb was indeed empty, even after Jesus appeared to them in a locked room, even after he cooked breakfast for some by the Sea of Galilee, some doubted, some still feared.

What did they hear? What did they see? What moved them past doubt and fear to praise and proclamation?

Jesus had arisen. He ascended. They would pray together. On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit would descend on them, and they would understand as Peter would preach that day, “God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah” (Acts 2:36). He would tell them that they must repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins. Another apostle would say that Christians have died and have been buried in baptism to arise into a new life (Romans 6:1-4). Peter still later would write, reflecting on God saving Noah through the flood, that “this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also – not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:21).

We live still in a world where there is too much darkness. We still fear. We still doubt. We cower, our faith warped and distorted by conspiracy theories that we believe. We hesitate to love, because we magnify differences but fail to see the image of God in fellow human beings. We cling to the darkness, because the light startles us and challenges us. We protest and we shout in defense of our rights more than we listen and we pray.

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever an ever. Amen” (1 Peter 4:10-11).

Because he arose,
We will arise.
We are saved by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

• Quotes from the Bible are from the New International Version 2011.

God of grace and glory, you dispel the darkness. You infuse light through love and your creative power. You turned everything upside down when you raised Jesus from the dead. We marvel at the resurrection. When we fear, help us find the path to hope. When we doubt, forgive our unbelief. When hate and fear tempt us to forsake our faith, help us to remember our baptism, and to remember that we are saved by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We pray in His name, amen.

About Michael Summers

Michael Waymon Summers has preached in twenty-seven of the United States as well as seven other countries. Michael earned a Master of Theology degree. He also has done graduate work in international studies. Michael likes to run, loves to sing, and reads voraciously.
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