Easter’s Resurrection Gifts
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Just before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, He spoke to Lazarus’ sister Martha and said: “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”1
In raising people from death back to life, as in the cases of Lazarus, the dead man who was being carried out of the town for burial, and the ruler’s daughter, Jesus demonstrated that He had power over death itself.2 This power was further demonstrated when Jesus rose from the dead three days later, after being brutally scourged and hung on a cross until He died.
His resurrection from the dead proved that He was the Son of God. He “was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead.”3
His sacrificial death and resurrection from the dead made a way for those who believe in Him to also be raised from the dead and to have life eternally. Jesus was the first to die, resurrect, and never die again; thus the apostle Paul called Him “the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.”4
As unsaved sinners, we were spiritually dead, but salvation spiritually resurrected us. While we will eventually die physically, our spirit will be fully conscious as it dwells in the presence of the Lord until the time when Jesus returns. When He does, our spirits will be united with our resurrected bodies, which will be transformed to be like Jesus’ body upon His resurrection.
When Jesus said “I am the resurrection,” He was declaring that He had the power to raise the dead. Earlier in the Gospel of John, He stated: “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”5 Because He lives eternally, we will also live eternally.
Besides declaring that He was the resurrection, Jesus also said that He was life, meaning He had the power to grant life after death. Because He has life within Himself, He has the power to bestow resurrection on all those who believe in Him. Because He is life, death has no ultimate power over Him, and because He gives spiritual life to those that believe in Him, they too partake in His victory over death.
“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”6 When we die, we are called out of this earthly life, our outer person dies; but our spirit, our inner person, continues to live eternally. In addition, we will be reunited with our renewed physical body at the time of the resurrection.
Physical death, which brings physical life to an end and separates people from the ones they love, reflects the spiritual death which occurs when people are separated from God because of sin. However, since Jesus bore our sins as He suffered and died on the cross, and then overcame death by His resurrection, death has been defeated. Because we are united in Him, we too will be raised to live eternally with Him.
We will rise, because He has risen! This is what we celebrate at Easter. He is the resurrection and the life, and if we believe in Him, even if we die, we will live and we will never die.—Peter Amsterdam
Another layer of Easter
In Acts 2, we read about Peter’s very first sermon at Pentecost. Jesus had just ascended into heaven and had told His disciples the Holy Spirit would come to them. The believers anxiously huddled together in an upper room waiting to see what was next. Then the Holy Spirit swept through in the form of flames of fire, and they were all filled with a power and boldness that they had never known.
At that time, Jerusalem was filled with Jews from all over the world. Upon being filled with the Holy Spirit, the disciples trickled out of their upper room and into the public, where they began declaring the gospel—in foreign languages none of them previously knew! All the Jewish visitors to Jerusalem were astounded that these people knew their languages. People were trying to figure out how it could be possible for them to speak in languages they had never learned. Some took to making fun, saying, “They must be drunk.”7
Then Peter, the same Peter who denied Jesus just a few weeks before, stood up and addressed this huge crowd: “We aren’t drunk; it’s only 9:00 in the morning. We’re filled with the Spirit just like the prophet Joel prophesied.”8
He goes on to explain that Jesus of Nazareth, the one who everyone knew had recently been crucified, was the Son of God, whom God had raised from the dead. He then referenced David’s prophecy about Jesus in Psalm 16:10, “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.”
Peter says, “Brothers and sisters, I can speak confidently about the patriarch David. He died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this very day. Because he was a prophet, he knew that God promised him with a solemn pledge to seat one of his descendants on his throne. Having seen this beforehand, David spoke about the resurrection of Christ, that he wasn’t abandoned to the grave, nor did his body experience decay. This Jesus, God raised up. We are all witnesses to that fact.”9
Then Peter pricked the crowd with the statement, “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”10
Peter’s delivery was so powerful and anointed that the crowd was cut to the heart and cried, “Brothers, what do we do?” “Repent and be baptized” was the reply. That day 3,000 believers were added to the church. And that was just the beginning
Peter’s delivery wasn’t just bold, it was also educated. He accurately referenced Jewish prophets and prophecy and spoke with a clarity that he wasn’t previously known for. He was obviously anointed, and it was the work of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus had to leave His disciples in order for them to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is expedient for you that I go away, for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you.”11
The gift of the Comforter is directly related to Jesus’ death. I haven’t always thought of the Holy Spirit as something to celebrate at Easter, but I can see that the gift of the Holy Spirit is a great gift to celebrate at Easter.
The Holy Spirit is God living in us. It’s His presence in our lives, and is available to us because Jesus was willing to give His life for us to have it. The Holy Spirit goes beyond salvation (which is already the most amazing, awesome, love-filled gift we could possibly receive), and ensures us an eternity with God in that it connects us to God’s Spirit and presence each and every day.
Thinking about the gift of the Holy Spirit has added another layer to my appreciation of Easter and what Jesus has done for us. I’m grateful for this deeper understanding of what Jesus has done for me, and it’s something I never want to take for granted.—Mara Hodler
Published on Anchor April 2020. Read by Reuben Ruchevsky. Music by John Listen.
1 John 11:25–26.
2 Luke 7:11–15; 8:49–56.
3 Romans 1:4.
4 1 Corinthians 15:20.
5 John 6:40.
6 John 10:28.
7 Acts 2:13.
8 Acts 2:15–16.
9 Acts 2:29–32 CEB.
10 Acts 2:36 NIV.
11 John 16:7 KJV.