From The Pastor's Heart

Jesus was the ultimate Lamb of God who died for sins once for all time.

By Charles F. Stanley

Have you lost the wonder of Jesus’ resurrection? Each Easter, we read Bible passages describing it, sing songs extolling it, and hear sermons explaining it. After repeatedly hearing this message, the familiarity can cause us to become complacent, seeing it as just another of the many stories about Jesus. But this was the most important event in history. If Jesus were not raised, then we would have to concede that the power of God is no match for death. Where, then, would our hope be? We’d all die in our sins and suffer eternal separation from God (1 Corinthians 15:17).

That’s why I’d like you to really think about the unparalleled impact of Christ’s resurrection. What was it like for His followers? How did it affect the world physically, religiously, and culturally? I believe the biblical account in Matthew 28:1-8 can help us see this marvelous event with fresh eyes. One fact often overlooked is the earthquake that physically shook the world when Jesus came to life (v. 2). What’s interesting is that the earth had been shaken just a few days before, when He died (Matthew 27:50-51).

Jesus was the ultimate Lamb of God who died for sins once for all time.

But the ground wasn’t the only thing upset that day. It was also the beginning of a religious and cultural earthquake that affected the entire ancient world, the aftershocks of which we’re still feeling in our own time. Neither the Jewish leaders nor the Roman rulers could explain what happened to the man they’d crucified who was no longer in the tomb. When the temple veil was torn at the time of Jesus’ death, God signified that no further sacrifices were needed because Jesus was the ultimate Lamb of God who died for sins once for all time (Hebrews 10:12). After Christ ascended to heaven, leaving His disciples to spread the news of His death and resurrection, many of the Jews believed in Him, along with a large number of priests (Acts 6:7). But this radical new religion of Christianity didn’t stay contained within Israel. Before long, the apostles spread the message of Jesus throughout the Roman Empire. At one point, they were even accused of turning the world upside down with their message (Acts 17:6 NKJV).

As amazing as all this is, the resurrection’s impact has reached beyond the cultural and religious realms all the way into countless individual hearts. Now at the moment of salvation, we probably don’t understand the magnitude of all that transpired when Jesus rose from the dead. I remember when I accepted Christ as my Savior at the age of 12; all I knew was that He’d forgiven my sins. Yet that decision changed my destiny forever—both in this life and for eternity.

The resurrection, which happened so long ago, is still shaping our lives today. The first impact comes when we believe the testimony of the Word of God and ask the Lord to forgive our sins. You see, without Jesus’ death and resurrection, we’d have no hope of forgiveness. God can’t simply forgo the just penalty for our sins. But Jesus took upon Himself the punishment we deserved when He suffered and died on the cross. His resurrection was proof that the heavenly Father was satisfied with His payment for the sins of mankind (Romans 4:25). Without Christ’s death and resurrection, there’d be no basis for receiving forgiveness and no hope of heaven.

His resurrection was proof that the heavenly Father was satisfied with His payment for the sins of mankind.

Second, we are also given new life in Christ Jesus. The apostle Paul says our old self was crucified with Him, and we have been raised to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4-6). This means we can choose to abstain from the old sinful practices that once held us captive. The key to this new life is found in surrender. When we let Christ rule in our lives, He lives through us, accomplishing His will and displaying His character within us.

Third, we receive the Holy Spirit, who empowers us. There’s no way we can live the Christian life in our own strength. But at the moment of salvation, we are given God’s Spirit to manifest the life of Christ in us. Just imagine, the Spirit who raised Jesus to life is dwelling inside us, enabling us to become who He desires us to be and to achieve whatever God wants us to do (Romans 8:11). As we yield to Him, He produces His fruit within us (Galatians 5:22-23). Furthermore, He’s given us spiritual gifts to help us serve Him and accomplish His will (1 Corinthians 12:7).

Finally, because of Christ’s resurrection, we have become a part of a great missionary movement. Every believer has been called to share the message of the risen Savior with an unbelieving world, whether personally or through a church or mission organization (Acts 1:8). We each have a testimony to share, and God has placed us in our homes, workplaces, and cities to be His witnesses. The gospel we share is the only message with the power to change someone’s eternal destiny.

Never underestimate how the Lord may want to use you. Today is a good time to surrender your life fully to Christ. Let Him fill you afresh with His Spirit, making your witness like a shining light that points others to Christ.

Prayerfully yours,

Charles F. Stanley

P.S. My prayer is that you and your family will have a blessed Easter celebration as you let the wonder of the resurrection fill your hearts. May any burdens you carry be lifted and your hope renewed as you walk in newness of life, knowing that Jesus has conquered death for us and has promised that we, too, will be raised to life.

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