In the last four of these weekly columns, I have been showing how the Holy Communion service teaches us the gospel of Christ. So far, we have seen how our service each week proclaims the basic facts of creation, sin, judgment and the atoning death of Christ. The fifth fact of the gospel, which we consider today, is Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, which we proclaim every week as we say the creed: “On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures.”
The first thing to say about Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is that it is a fact. Jesus’ buried corpse returned to life and he came out of his grave. He then appeared to the apostles, giving “many convincing proofs” (Acts 1:3) that he was alive. When we read the New Testament, it is obvious that we are reading the words of people who believed that Jesus had actually, factually risen. Paul even writes that if Jesus has not been raised, we Christians are to be pitied more than anyone else (1 Cor. 15:19). The liberal Christian scholars who claim that the resurrection is some kind of metaphor simply misread the evidence. The only way to get around the words of the New Testament is to suggest that the apostles were either lying or deceived. But that suggestion itself seems unlikely.
The New Testament invites us to join in the apostles’ belief that Jesus has been raised from the dead. Amongst the many implications of this good news, two stand out. Firstly, it means that Jesus’ death has fully paid for our sins. He was “raised for our justification” (Romans 4:25). The resurrection means we can be in no doubt about the effectiveness of Jesus’ death as an atoning sacrifice. Secondly, the resurrection stamps Jesus with the Father’s authority as the one who will judge the world (Acts 17:31). As a result, we know for certain who will be our judge at the end of
time. It will be Jesus. Whether you are a Christian, an atheist, a Muslim or a Buddhist, your judge at the end of time will still be Jesus Christ. But only if you a Christian will Jesus also be your Saviour.