Well, Easter is over for another year. And most of us will continue going about our daily business until the next holiday comes along. There will be Memorial Day, then the Fourth of July, Labor Day, Halloween and a bunch of others until we get around to Easter again – well, after Christmas, of course. But that’s not how it was the day after the resurrection more than 2000 years ago when Jesus left the tomb on what we commemorate as Easter Sunday.
The Scriptures are full of records recounting the appearance of Jesus to Mary Magdalene and Luke tells us about Jesus meeting two strangers on the road to Emmaus. Something new and wonderful was happening – Jesus had returned from the dead. And that was something that opened the door to the belief in eternal life.
Make no mistake – Jesus had raised others from the dead – Lazarus, for one. But notice the language that is always used – Jesus raised other people from the dead. But when we talk about Jesus, we use the word resurrection… Did you ever think about why we use different words? Well, we can find the answer in the Greek. Because, when we talk about the differences, it is important to have a short grammar lesson to understand the nuances of what actually happened.
In the Greek, there are three different ways that actions can happen. For example, in the active voice, you could say, “Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead…” That means that Jesus did the work and Lazarus was passive. Then there is a passive voice, such as “Lazarus was raised from the dead by Jesus…” Once again, the action was received by Lazarus – Jesus did the work. But then there is something called a middle voice – something we really don’t use in the English. It means that somebody does something to him/her self. For example, “I raised myself from the dead…”. Of course, we all know that isn’t possible, except for one thing… That’s what resurrection means…
That’s right – in the Greek, it’s in the middle voice – Jesus raised Himself from the dead! As difficult as that is for us to acknowledge, it’s right there in the original language. And that’s why it is the only place where we speak about resurrection in that sense. One of the miracles is that Jesus raised Himself from the dead – after having given up His spirit on the cross – willfully choosing to breathe His last…
In fairness to other parts of the Bible, there are also passages that indicate that God the Father raised Jesus from the dead – and there is even one that says the Holy Spirit raised Jesus from the dead. In other words, God, the Triune God, raised Jesus the Christ from the dead. And this gave His followers hope – although let’s face it – they had scattered, for the most part, after the crucifixion.
We also know that Jesus appeared to the disciples and to Thomas in particular. Remember him? – we call him doubting Thomas. That’s because he didn’t believe that he was in the presence of Jesus until Jesus stretched out His hands and showed Thomas His wounds. How would you like to be the person in the room who didn’t believe until you saw physical evidence that your Lord and Savior was standing in front of you? And the reason that people remember your name is because you didn’t believe? No thank you!
So word of the resurrection of Jesus spread rather quickly. The Romans tried to spin the story but there were too many witnesses and precautions that had been taken to insure that the body of Jesus was not stolen – there was no doubt about it. Jesus was alive. And that wasn’t the kind of news the Romans wanted to admit. It would have been much easier if the body of Jesus had been stolen. But Jesus didn’t make a grand entrance. He only appeared to a few people that day after the resurrection.
And nobody was expecting Him. Imagine if Jesus were to appear to you, in the flesh, right about now. Are you expecting that? Probably not – neither did anybody that Easter day, or the next day… But some day, Jesus will return and we don’t know when that will be. It is clear in the Bible that Jesus will return.
The verse for this evening is what Jesus told Thomas once Thomas did believe in the resurrection. We are told, in John 20:29-31, “Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
My encouragement this evening is that Jesus is alive and He wants you to have the same thrill the people had 2000 years ago when they discovered that Jesus was among the living. My prayer is that you will continue to be amazed at the things that Jesus does in your life each and every day. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…