‘He is risen!’ – Part 1
Today is Easter Sunday—the day Christians all over the world remember and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour.
What do we mean by the Resurrection of Jesus Christ?
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the historical event, whereby He came back from physical death to newness of life with a glorified body, never to die again. The bodily resurrection of Jesus is one of the central tenets of the Christian faith. His bodily resurrection validates the claim that He is both Lord and Christ. It substantiates the proposition that His life and death were not just the life and death of a good man, but that He, indeed, was God incarnate and that by His death, we have forgiveness of sin.
There is also another event called the resurrection of all persons. This is a future, bodily rising from the dead of all persons. Believers in Christ rise to eternal life and bliss with God; unbelievers rise to eternal torment and separation from God. This future resurrection of all persons is a distinct and separate event, which will be discussed later.
What is Easter?
Easter is the special celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Easter is the oldest Christian festival, except for the weekly Sunday celebration.
Although the exact date was in dispute and the specific observances of the festival developed over the centuries, it is clear that Easter had special significance to the early generations of Christians. Since Christ’s passion and resurrection occurred at the time of the Jewish Passover, the first Jewish Christians probably transformed their Passover observance into a celebration of the central events of their new faith. In the early centuries, the annual observance was called the pascha, the Greek word for Passover, and focused on Christ as the paschal Lamb.
Although the NT does not give any account of a special observance of Easter and evidence from before A.D 200 is scarce, the celebrations were probably well established in most churches by A.D. 100. The earliest observance probably consisted of a vigil beginning on Saturday evening and ending on Sunday morning and included remembrance of Christ’s crucifixion, as well as the resurrection. Evidence from shortly after A.D. 200 shows that the climax of the vigil was the baptism of new Christians and the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. By about A.D. 300, most churches divided the original observance, devoting Good Friday to the crucifixion and Easter Sunday to the resurrection.
Evidence that Jesus actually died and rose
Some people were denying Christ’s bodily resurrection and even, in current times, there are still some who doubt the Resurrection of Christ. It is, therefore, imperative to address this pivotal issue that Jesus truly died and rose from the dead. The “infallible proofs” (Acts 1:3) are as follows:
(1) Jesus predicted His death and resurrection (2) There were many people, who saw Jesus after His resurrection. (3) Some critics proposed spurious self-defeating explanations for the Empty Tomb in which Jesus was buried. These self-defeating explanations shall be debunked.
This preliminary discourse is to address these three issues.
Jesus, before His crucifixion, predicted His death and resurrection (See Mat 16:21; 17:22,23; 20:17-19; Mark 8:31-32; Luke 9:22; 43-45; 24:5-7). But His disciples “were exceedingly sorrowful” (Mat 17:23); Peter “rebuked Him” for this (Mk 8:32); “But they did not understand this saying, and it was hidden from them so that they did not perceive it, and they were afraid to ask Him about this saying.” (Luke 9:45). The two men in shining garment by the empty tomb reminded the disciples about the predictions (Luke 24:6,7)
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