Every Easter the reality of the resurrection is fresh on the minds of Christ's followers. It is no accident that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John place significant emphasis on the certainty of Jesus' sinless life, death, burial and resurrection. These truths comprise the essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the meaning of the resurrection.
The word "gospel" means good news. It is the good news of what God has done for us, not good advice about how we should live. The gospel is what God has done to reach us, not what we must do to reach God. Christ's life, death and resurrection have personal meaning for everyone who believes.
After his resurrection of the dead, the gospel of John records one of Jesus' first encounters with his followers. What Jesus revealed then concerning the meaning of the resurrection is the same thing he reveals now:
On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit" (John 20:19-22).
First, Jesus offers his peace. Our peace with God is based on the atoning sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Jesus showed his disciples his hands and his side. At that moment, his disciples realized that Jesus was truly the Lamb of God whose death on the cross took away the sins of the world (John 1:29). We have peace with God because all of our sins are gone. Now we are forgiven and in our hearts is a new song. We are filled as with relief and gratitude. Jesus took our place. All of our sins are removed from God's sight. All of our debts are paid. By his grace we have peace with God.
Next, Jesus wastes no time in revealing to his disciples that he has a sacred plan for their lives. As Jesus was sent by the Father, so we are sent by Jesus. For every follower of Jesus, God has a purpose, a plan and a place. This providential plan comes from God and not ourselves. There is no record in the Scriptures of any godly person choosing the life he wanted and then informing God of his decision. None of us are the leading character in the story of our life. Jesus has something in mind for each us. With humility and faith we must trust his goodness and follow his leading.
photo courtesy of ian burt
Finally, Jesus knows that we cannot fulfill his providential plan in our own strength. Jesus had promised his disciples that a day would come when he would send them "another helper." In other words, someone just as real, just as divine, just as loving, wise, and strong, would come and take his place. This "other helper" is the Person of the Holy Spirit. By breathing on his disciples, Jesus imparted the promised Divine Helper who would be with them and live in them forever. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God himself. He will never leave us or forsake us.
The Person of the Holy Spirit is the divine successor of Jesus and he is the one who lives in our hearts and day by day makes us like Jesus. He is the one who enables us to live a life of holiness, a life of faith, a life of prayer, a life of love, and a life of seeking the lost.
The good news is that by God's grace we have received both the Son of the Living God and the Spirit of the Living God. Because of Christ's resurrection, we have his total forgiveness, his providential plan for our lives, and his indwelling presence. Jesus is alive and on the move. This is the meaning of the Resurrection. Have a joyful Easter!
Author:Paul Schlieker www.bible-study-lesson-plans.com
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