The passion of our Savior and Lord is at the heart of our redemption. Yet, that passion quickly becomes mute if we forget the resurrection. After Jesus was crucified, the disciples were locked behind closed doors. Their lives were in danger; their families were in danger. They, no doubt, saw themselves as the laughingstock of Israel. Jerusalem was still in an uproar and guards were standing watch over the Savior’s tomb. I understand there was a rumor in Jerusalem that friends tried to convince Joseph of Arimathaea not to give his tomb for the burial of this confessed Messiah. He is reported to have said, “Why not, He only wants to borrow it for three days.”
His disciples had lost one of their number to suicide; Judas’ death was horrible. It was so violent that all his bowels gushed out. As they contemplated the loss of their Lord, one out of their number, and their future, Godly women were carrying burial ointments to the tomb to add embalming spices to a hastily buried Jesus. I can imagine that after they found Jesus’ body gone and were rushing to the location of the eleven, the disciples heard them coming down the alleyway. They must have been screaming, “He’s alive, He’s alive; His grave clothes are there but He is gone.” The disciples’ fear was immediately broken and they openly ran to the graveyard. The immobilizing powers of fear and sorrow were gone because they had heard the tomb was empty. There is not one word of fear ever named again among His disciple s. Hope arose in their hearts like sunrise at midnight.
Thank God that we do not worship before a victim on a cross. There is no hope in such a sense. Apostle Paul settled this great truth in his discourse on the resurrection. He said, “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Corinthians 15:17-20).
Our hope is not in contemplating His wounds but rejoicing in His completed victory. The risen Lord they saw was so glorious in resurrection victory that they never talked about His mutilated body again. When they spoke of sharing His death, they spoke not of a lacerated body, but they spoke of death to their plans and dreams and a total surrender to His will. They turned the world “upside down” because His resurrection became their resurrection. “Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day (after the resurrection) ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you” (John 14:19-20).
What glorious truth! Living a life delivered from sin by His death but raised in His resurrection is the New Testament standard. Apostle Paul did not see Him before He ascended to Heaven but He did see Him shortly thereafter. In his testimony before the Jews in Jerusalem he said, “And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came into Damascus”(Acts 22:11). Later he testified to King Agrippa, “At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me”(Acts 26:13).
This victory of a glorified Jesus totally arrested Paul (then called Saul of Tarsus). It was so heavenly that he wrote to the Philippians of his new life and our hope and spoke of this glorious body that Jesus now possessed. Apostle Paul said, “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself” (Philippians 3:20-21).
The early churches were powerful in ministry because they served a risen and glorified Lord. His “Glorious Body” was their assurance of their future “Glorified Body.” They never gloried in the lacerated and wounded earthly body that He offered on the cross; they gloried in the “Glorified Body” that reflects the absolute victory of the cross and the Resurrection.
“Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed” (Hebrews 12:12-13). The “Gospel of Jesus Christ” is the “good news” that He is not in a tomb or on a cross, but He is alive and at the Father’s right hand and soon to appear. Serve Him with great joy and unfailing hope.
Joseph R. Chambers