Easter is the Difference!
Today we celebrate Easter, the resurrection of Jesus and the Good News that He died for all our sins – and then rose again. We have all heard the story of the final week of His life. The triumphant entry into Jerusalem, the Last Supper with the apostles in the Upper Room, the betrayal by Judas, death on a cross – and then, the greatest miracle of all time, the resurrection itself.
And we have all heard of Pontius Pilate, the criminals on the crosses on either side of Jesus, the casting of lots for His clothes, the agony of the crucifixion and the burial in a tomb that had been secured by Joseph of Arimathea. We have also heard the stories of the empty tomb, the sightings of Jesus, the reunion with the disciples and His eventual ascension into Heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father.
While many religions dedicate themselves to their founders, or gods (small g), Christianity is the only religion that boasts a Savior who was dead – and is now alive. That’s right – we worship a LIVING God. So the question for tonight is simply, “Who raised Jesus from the dead?” After all, no created being on the earth, or below the earth, or even above the earth had the power raise Jesus back to life. And while there has been great debate on the topic, the Scripture clearly indicates that each member of the Godhead raised Jesus from the dead – that’s right, He was raised by God the Father, He was raised by the Holy Spirit and He raised Himself! Yes, I know that this sounds confusing but it’s true. So tonight, we have several verses to look at.
Paul, in the opening verse of Galatians, tells us in no uncertain terms that God the Father raised Jesus. Paul tells us, in Galatians 1:1, “Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead…” Notice, that Paul points out, in the first verse of his letter to the church at Galatia, this important truth. It’s right there – we can’t deny that, can we?
But then we can look at other parts of the Bible and find that Paul mentions that the Holy Spirit was responsible for the raising of Jesus. Paul tells us, in Romans 8:11, “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” So here we have confirmation that the Holy Spirit raised our Savior. How can that also be true?
And then, in what appears to add even more confusion to the question, In what seems to be an impossible situation, the Bible tells us that Jesus resurrected Himself! John, one of the disciples closest to Jesus, in the gospel that bears his name, tells us in John 10:17-18, “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” John tells us that Jesus had the authority to lay down His life and to take it up again! In fact, the Greek language makes it clear that Jesus did the action to Himself – it’s called middle voice – something that you cause to happen and also receive the result of the action. In fact, the language surrounding the resurrection is all in the middle voice. Jesus raised Himself from the dead. After all, He decided when He would die on the cross. We are told, in Matthew 27:50, “And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.” That’s right – Jesus breathed his last when He was ready to “give up His spirit.” And He would bring Himself back from the dead as well.
So what’s the correct answer here? Well, it’s YES! God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit all raised Jesus from the dead. Because it’s important to know that while the Godhead is comprised of three different parts – they are all God – three in One. One God in three different manifestations – the Trinity! Clearly, since they are all God, if one is involved, they all have to be involved – because God isn’t divisible.
My encouragement is that Jesus died on the cross and rose again to give us a way to commune with God throughout eternity and avoid eternal separation from Him. My prayer is that we will all take the offer of salvation seriously and that as we progress through our lives, we will become more like Jesus in the way we act in our earthly lives. Happy Easter, and have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…