Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.” (Luke 24:5-6 ESV)
One author notes a motto popular in Athens when the apostle Paul was ministering there over 2000 years ago: “Once a man dies and the earth drinks up his blood, there is no resurrection.” The same attitude is very much with us today. Most people, whether scholars or everyday folks, believe that life ends at death. The notion of resurrection—of bodily life after death—seems like a fairy tale, a leftover from our superstitious past.
By contrast, at the heart of the Christian religion is the resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ. All four gospels record it as a historical fact. Not a mythological ideal. Not humanity’s best aspirations for life beyond the grave. A fact in the same way that “George Washington was the first president of the United States” is a fact. According to God’s word, the resurrection of Jesus took place in space-time history in a garden near Jerusalem roughly two millennia ago. This fact changes everything.
First of all, it tells us that death does not have the final word for Christians. Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:38) When we trust in Jesus Christ to save us, his resurrection life begins to spring up inside us like a fresh well of living water. This is why Paul writes, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” (2 Cor 4:16) While our mortal body is subject to disease and ultimately death, the resurrection of Jesus Christ brings everlasting, resurrection life into the present, so that our inner man is renewed every day.
Second, the resurrection of Jesus Christ guarantees our future resurrection. The Bible says, “For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.” (1 Cor 15:52) Contrary to the motto of ancient Athens and many in modern America, life continues after death. Our souls survive the death of our bodies and await the final resurrection, which is guaranteed by the resurrection of Jesus Christ two thousand years ago. Death is dead because Christ is alive!
Are you worn out? Wondering if the boring day-to-day is all there is to life? Take heart. The resurrection shows us that while life in this fallen world is hard, Jesus’s empty tomb proclaims that our inner man is bursting with resurrection life. As men, we are called to realize this resurrection life in our daily lives. The streams of living water Jesus promised should flow out of us, into our homes, workplaces, and churches. We are called to spread this life by our words, walk, and witness. What an amazing privilege!
When you’re discouraged, bored, or feel like giving up, remember the empty cross and the empty tomb this Easter. The first tells you that your sins are forgiven and your shame is covered. The second tells you that this life is not all there is, that beyond the empty tomb awaits everlasting life with Jesus forever. In the meantime, remember that God “raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (Eph 2:6) Note the past tense: we have already been raised with Christ. To be sure, resurrection most assuredly is a future reality as well, but we enjoy the benefits of it at the present. Think of it as a trust fund of sorts, which pays out infinite wealth in this life and the life to come.
So if you’re worn out, weary, depressed, full of shame, ridden with guilt, bored with life, and wondering about what’s next, consider the empty tomb. What’s next is beyond our wildest hopes—life in a restored creation forever. And the best news is that because Jesus is alive and the tomb is empty, we can enjoy real life now. Resurrection life. “Empty tomb” life. The fact of the resurrection changes everything.