Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. (Mark 16:14, NKJV)
How much evidence do you need before you will believe Jesus is the resurrected Son of God? Jesus rebuked the eleven apostles for their continued unbelief in the face of multiple streams of evidence. There was the teaching Jesus gave them before His death; He told them repeatedly He would die and be raised (Matt. 16:21; 17:23; Lk. 24:6-7). The empty tomb had been reported to them by Mary Magdalene (Mk. 16:9-11). Peter and John had seen the empty tomb (Jno. 20:1-10). Two disciples reported to them of seeing Jesus (Lk. 24:33-35). Still, the eleven did not believe, until Jesus appeared to them, rebuking them for “their unbelief and hardness of heart” (Mk. 16:14). The world has the evidence they, at first, refused. Jesus will not personally appear to each person so they may believe. The evidence has been left for us to come to the necessary conclusion that He is the Christ, the Son of the living God (Jno. 20:30-31). “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (Jno. 20:29). Does that blessed number include you?
5 Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee,” (Luke 24:5–6, NKJV)
The resurrection of Jesus is the keystone of the gospel; without it, Christians have no faith, no forgiveness, and no hope (1 Cor. 15:17-19). Yes, He is risen! At the same time, one must admit the New Testament does not speak of, describe or command an “Easter” celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. No churches in the Bible had Easter services. There is no Easter holiday found there. The religious holiday called Easter developed as men moved away from following the apostles’ teaching, and added their traditions and decrees to the Scriptures. The Council of Nicea (325 AD), called by Emperor Constantine, decreed celebrating the resurrection of Christ (the “Christian Passover”) should be on a Sunday; it was the 7th century before the Catholic Church decreed rules assigning its annual date. Yet, all the while, God’s word continued to say nothing about such a religious holiday. God’s word does, however, say that God does not accept the traditions of men as true worship (Matt. 15:7-9; Col. 2:20-23). Christians honor Christ’s resurrection weekly, by our worship on the Lord’s Day – the first day of the week (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2; Rev. 1:10).
19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. 20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:19–22, NKJV)
The Christian’s hope in Christ goes beyond the here and now; it reaches into eternity. Our hope “enters the Presence behind the veil” – into God’s holy and heavenly habitation (Heb. 6:19). The future resurrection of all the dead is at the heart of our hope; without it, our faith crumbles (1 Cor. 15:12-19). The empty tomb of Jesus is an ever-present witness to the fact that the dead will be raised. Indeed, His resurrection from the dead was the beginning – “the firstfruits” – of the dead (v. 20). Just as the firstfruits of the field foretell the harvest to come, the resurrection of Jesus signifies the future resurrection of all the dead. Bodily death came into the world as a result of Adam (Gen. 3:19). Bodily resurrection will happen because Christ was raised. Christ’s prediction of our resurrection is assured by His resurrection (Jno. 5:28-29). The Christian’s hope will be realized on the great hour when “all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (Jno. 5:28-29). Our hope is secure. Death is not the end.
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. (1 Corinthians 15:50, NKJV)
Even though Jesus taught plainly that His kingdom “is not of this world” in John 18:36, many souls continue to believe His kingdom will be established as a future world government, with Jesus ensconced on His throne in Jerusalem. However, Jesus said His kingdom would come into existence “with power” during the lifetime of those who heard Him teach (Mk. 9:1). His kingdom was established through the powerful events recorded in Acts 2. His kingdom is His church (Dan. 2:44; Matt. 16:18-19). When Jesus returns on resurrection day, He will deliver the kingdom to God the Father, not set it up on the earth (1 Cor. 15:23-26). At that time, with resurrected, immortal bodies, we will enter the heavenly kingdom (2 Tim. 4:18). Our mortal, corruptible bodies will not inherit heaven. The kingdom of God is incorruptible and not of this world. Even so, only with resurrected, immortal bodies will God’s people pass into eternal life (1 Cor. 15:52-56). “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57).
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” (John 11:25–27, NKJV)
Resurrection. To be raised from death to life again. What an astounding power to do such a thing! A dead, decaying body, animated with life once more. Jesus would soon raise Martha’s brother Lazarus from the dead, showing His power over death (Jno. 11:38-44). Jesus is the “resurrection and the life” who will one day give life to every dead body of flesh. At the last day, all who have died “shall be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22). Jesus also has power over spiritual death. He is the “resurrection and the life” for “whoever lives and believes in” Him. These “shall never die” spiritually (Jno. 11:26). Resurrection from the spiritual death caused by sin occurs by the power of God every time a sinner is “buried with Him (Christ, jrp) in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead” (Col. 2:12). Every sinner who “lives and believes” in Christ is resurrected out of the death of sin unto spiritual life. Live and believe in Jesus Christ for victory over sin and death, now and forevermore.
23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” (John 11:23–27, NKJV)
There will be no bodily resurrection and no eternal life without Jesus. While Martha believed in the resurrection at the last day, Jesus turned her attention to a personal belief that only in Jesus would that great event occur. He is the source, the power, the essence of resurrection and of eternal life. Jesus said He is the means of bodily resurrection from the dead (v. 25). He is the One who gives eternal life to “whoever lives and believes in (Him)” (v. 26). Jesus has power over physical death and over spiritual death (caused by sin). Confessing faith in Christ is not only about who He is, it is also about what He does. When we profess that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of God,” we acknowledge our trust in Him to raise our bodies from the dead. We proclaim our faith that He gives us eternal life (because we hear His voice and follow Him, Jno. 10:27-28). One cannot have faith in Jesus Christ and deny eternal life, and the bodily resurrection at the last day.
29 Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven. 31 But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” (Matthew 22:29–32, NKJV)
Many people believe it really does not matter what you believe about God as long as you are sincere. It is apparent from today’s verse that Jesus did not think this way. Why then, should we? If you wear His name (Christian), shouldn’t you think like He thinks and teach like He teaches? Jesus said the Sadducees (who said there was no resurrection, Matt. 22:23) were “mistaken” (“wrong”, ESV; “in error”, NIV) because they did not know the Scriptures nor God’s power. How could that be true if it didn’t matter what the Sadducees believed (as long as they were sincere)? You must know the Scriptures precisely because it does make a difference what you believe. Be sure what you believe is in God’s Scriptures by examining them every day (Acts 17:11). If it is not in the Scriptures, then abandon it and believe the truth. Because it matters.