In reading through chapter 13 for about the fourth time this morning, one word kept jumping out at me: Raised. It is used four times within the span of seven verses in the New American Standard Version. It starts in verse 30:
But God raised Him from the dead.
Then Luke uses it again in verses 32-33:
And we preach to you the good news of the promise made to the fathers, that God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus...
He picks it up again in verse 34:
As for the fact that He raised Him up from the dead, no longer to return to decay."
Then he uses it one last time in verse 37:
He whom God raised did not undergo decay."
It seems that Paul is trying to make a point by stressing the resurrection of Jesus to his listeners. Why? Because the resurrection is central to the message of Jesus Christ. Without it, we have nothing. With it, we have hope and the promise of eternal life.
The resurrection has been the focal point of the message of Christ from the beginning. In fact, Jesus Himself talked about it long before it happened. Back in John 11:25 we have these words of Jesus recorded for us:
I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies...
Jesus tied our eternal life to His resurrection. You can't have one without the other. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul reminds us of this fact:
But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, your faith also is vain.- 1 Corinthians 15:13-14
If Christ has not been raised, then we can't hope in a resurrection of the dead or eternal life. Without the resurrection, Paul is wasting his time preaching, and we are wasting our time believing. Because we would have nothing to believe in.
Later, Paul would write to the Philippians believers:
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.. - Philippians 3:10
You see, the resurrection is all about power. When Paul spoke about Jesus being raised, he is describing an impossible, not improbable event. No one could be raised from the dead! It was impossible. Yet, the message of the apostles was that Jesus had done just that. By the power of God, Jesus had been raised from death to life again. He had done what no other man had ever been able to do before. Defeat death.
And it is on this amazing fact that all our hope rests as believers. The apostle Peter states this fact clearly in his letter:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead... - 1 Peter 1:3
We have a living hope. It is a living Jesus. And it is because He is living that we can have forgiveness of sins and freedom from the law and its condemnation. Paul states that clearly in verses 38-39:
Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you; and through Him, every one who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the law of Moses."
Through Him. Because of His resurrection. Because He was raised. We have a living hope and an eternal future.
But do we live like it? Do we live as if we believe in the resurrection of Jesus? Do we live as if we have hope? Do we recognize the kind of power it would take to raise a man from the dead? It is that kind of power that is at our disposal. It is a power that can only come from one place: The hand of God. When God raised Jesus up, He validated Who He had claimed to be. He was the Son of God. His resurrection was proof of His deity, and a guarantee of all the promises Jesus had made.
Jesus is alive! He has been raised from the dead. And we have a living hope. We don't have to fear death, man, sin, condemnation, the law, the grave, our future, or anything else.
Father, like Paul, I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection. I want to understand just what kind of power I have at my disposal because I worship the God who raised up Jesus from the dead. I want to see Him raise me up every day from my death to sin and the flesh. I want to crucify my old self daily, and see my new life in Christ raised up to live in obedience to and dependence on God. This Easter, may I see more clearly than ever the power of the resurrection. Amen