Each Easter Sunday, including this morning, we attend church and sing “Christ the Lord is risen today…. Alleluia! We also utter the words, “He is Risen” and most of us know the correct response to that is, “He is Risen indeed.” We read about the stone being removed from the grave and that the body of Jesus is gone. Different Gospel writers give us different glimpses of the scene but one thing is for sure – Jesus is gone – no longer dead but fully alive. It is the thing that separates Christianity from other religions. We serve a living God.
But who was responsible for the resurrection of Jesus? I suppose most people assume that it was God the Father. But did you know that there are other verses that claim the Holy Spirit raised Jesus from the dead? And there are still other verses that assert that Jesus raised Himself from the dead! Could Jesus really do that? Could He resurrect Himself? Tonight we are going to dig a little deeper into this question.
Well, Jesus as fully human certainly could not be responsible for coming back to life. But Jesus, while being fully human was also fully God, and God is eternal… so theologians pretty much agree that the divine part of Jesus could have, in fact, raised Himself. But where is the proof that it actually happened?
Tonight, for probably the first time in the twelve year history of this blog, we are looking at four different verses that give us evidence of how Jesus was raised from the dead.
Paul, in his letter to the church at Ephesus, asserts that God the Father raised Jesus from the dead. In explaining this to his church, Paul remarks about the awesome power of God the Father. He tells the Ephesians, and us, in Ephesians 1:19-22, “That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church…” That sounds pretty clear, doesn’t it? God the Father was the architect of the resurrection…
But in another part of the New Testament, Paul, who claims to have been taught by Jesus after he was struck blind on the road to Damascus, says that the the Holy Spirit raised Jesus from the dead. 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.” That also seems pretty clear – the Holy Spirit raised Jesus!
Finally, the apostle John tells us that Jesus raised Himself from the dead. Jesus was referring to His own resurrection when he had an encounter with the Jews. They were asking for a miraculous sign and John recounts the words of Jesus in John 2:18-19, “Then the Jews demanded of him, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” Jesus was talking about His own body being raised!
Perhaps Peter had the best and simplest answer to the question of who raised Jesus from the dead. Peter, at Pentecost and the beginning of the church, tells us that God raised Jesus from the dead. He tells us, in Acts 2:23-24, “This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.”
You see, there is only one God – but in three separate identities. We have God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. We refer to them collectively as the Trinity. Each member of the Trinity has specific attributes and it is believed that while they are all “God”, there seems to be an order to the work that they do. In the most memorable events in the life of Jesus, such as His baptism, all three members of the Trinity were present. We have God the Father above us, God the Son in the person of Jesus as a man while still God living among us and God the Holy Spirit as God actually in us.
So, it really doesn’t matter which part of the Trinity was responsible for the resurrection of Jesus from the dead – God raised Jesus back to life. In fact, in the Bible, all the verses that reference the resurrection of Jesus are in what is called the “middle voice.” This particular tense lets us know that the action was completed by Himself – nobody else raised Jesus – God raised Jesus, period. It would seem that the Godhead was the One who raised Him. It seems clear that each part of the Trinity had a part in the resurrection. In fact, I think that’s a perfect answer. And that works for me…
My encouragement this evening is that God is omnipotent – all powerful. So powerful that He raised a member of the Trinity back to life – eternal life. My prayer is that same God who brought Jesus back to life has given us the same opportunity to live eternally with Him. In fact, Jesus has gone on ahead to prepare a place for us. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…. and Happy Resurrection Sunday!