Text: This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore, being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.
As were learned in our study of the Gospel of Luke that the Book of Acts of the Apostles was a sequel to Luke’s gospel. The central message of the entire New Testament is the message of the resurrection. Luke records not only the resurrection of Jesus in his gospel but continues with the forty-days following the resurrection, and the message of Peter on the Day of Pentecost.
The message of Peter on the Day of Pentecost was about the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. As a witness to the resurrection, Peter spoke of the fulfillment of the prophecy in his sermon saying,
Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore, being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.
The central message of the early church was the mystery of the Christian faith: the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and the hope we have for our own resurrection from the dead. The message of the resurrection from the dead is the central message of the Apostles. Not only is the power of the gospel to set people utterly free from the destructive power of sin and fill their lives with all the fullness of God it gives us the promise of life after death. The message of the resurrection shows the power of God to complete the work on the cross to conquer sin and death. As much as the cross has been the central theme for believers throughout the ages, without the resurrection, the cross is meaningless.
And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. I Cor. 15:17
The resurrection is proof of Christ’s victory over sin and our hope of total redemption of soul, body, and spirit. The Apostles wanted believers to have more than a knowledge of the resurrection; they wanted the experience of the resurrection in the daily walk of life. In the words of Paul who want to “know Him and the power of His resurrection. Paul wanted more than a head knowledge he wanted the experience of being raised from the dead in trespasses and sin to a new life in Christ Jesus.
The power of the resurrection is the power of transformed lives from dead to sin and live unto Christ. Anyone who reads the New Testament cannot help but notice the central place the resurrection of Jesus plays in all the books. The Acts of the Apostles is the witness of the early church to the actual resurrection of Jesus. The Pauline letters are a theology of the resurrection. The book of Hebrews, the letters of Peter and John and even the book of Revelation all of which testify to the importance of the resurrection each differently. If you removed the message of the resurrection for the New Testament, it makes little or no sense. The message of the resurrection is essential to the gospel and is the driving force of Christian theology. If the message of the resurrection is removed, then Christianity is no different from any other religion.
The resurrection is so important to the early church because it was a vindication of the life of Jesus and His ministry. Peter says they were witnesses. It was central to their faith. They heard the message of the kingdom of God and were convinced that message was true, and they were willing to give their lives for the truth of that message because Jesus was raised from the dead and they were witnesses to that fact.
Physical death is a reality that everyone faces. It is a defining moment in everyone’s life. It is the end of life as we know it. Jesus’ own death was no different, and it appeared to contradict all that he proclaimed. He was condemned by the Jewish religious leaders as someone who had blasphemed God and led the people astray. He was executed by the Roman authorities to appease the Jewish leaders. His death was a humiliation to the disciple who did not understand why he had to suffer and die if He were the Messiah. This same scandalous death would be used against the early church by those who denied Jesus Christ as the Messiah. He must have been cursed by God to have died in such a horrible manner.
It was the resurrection that allowed the disciples to move forward. It was the resurrection that showed the vindication of Jesus’ life and ministry. It was the resurrection that convinced the early church that God had not abandoned Jesus. In the words of Thomas, “My Lord and My God” shows the power of the resurrection to change doubt to belief, despair to hope, and death to life.
Looking at the life and message of Jesus Christ, His primary purpose was to “be about My Father’s business.” That business was to bring salvation to the lost. To open the door between God and man. To become the advocate of our salvation. To rule over the power of sin and death. If the death of Christ ended at the tomb, then Satan’s kingdom was more powerful than God’s Anointed One. If Jesus was to set up a kingdom of power and glory and He was dead, how was this going to happen?
The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead reaffirmed the faith the disciples had in Jesus. By raising Him from the dead, God demonstrated in a compelling way that the kingdom of God was more powerful than the kingdom of Satan. He became the “first-born from the dead.” Col. 1:18
The resurrection was essential to the early church because of the power of the Holy Spirit.
“But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” Romans 8:11
Even if you did not know the earthly Jesus or was an eye-witness to the risen LORD, they could experience the power of God’s Spirit, which the resurrected Jesus gave to those who believed in Him. The Spirit confirmed what they believed: that God had raised Jesus from the dead. It was from the Holy Spirit that the assurance of their own resurrection from the dead would take place. Without the resurrection, there would be no Spirit, and without the Spirit, there was no assurance of the resurrection.
If the resurrection from the dead affected only Jesus, it has little to say in our lives today. But this is not the message of the New Testament. Time after time it testifies that the resurrection of Jesus has profound implication for the believers today. Not only do we have the promise of our bodies being resurrected from the dead, but we can also in this present life we can be changed to the newness of life in Christ Jesus.
The resurrection of Jesus is the foundational message of the New Testament Christian faith. Without the resurrection, Christianity is no longer Christianity. Remove the resurrection, and we are no different than all other religions. If we do not believe in the resurrection there is no reason for our faith. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then we will not rise from the dead. All the teachings of Jesus are just another wise man telling us how to live. The very essence of our faith is not only in the teachings of Jesus Christ but his resurrection from the dead. It is not just faith in His teachings it is faith in God who raised Him from the dead. Apart from the resurrection, there is no eternal life.
The hope we have as Christians in Jesus Christ is in the resurrection, through God who has overcome the last and greatest enemy—Death. Without this hope our life is limited to the years we have here on earth, and we are of all people most to be pitied as Paul wrote to the church at Corinth. (1Corth. 15:19)
At the beginning of the book of Acts Christ spends forty days showing them that He was indeed risen and alive. We may not have been witnesses to Jesus while He was here on earth, but by the power of the Holy Spirit, His Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.
Have you experienced the power of the transformed life we can have in Jesus Christ today? If not, accept His gift of a changed life by believing in the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the salvation of your soul.