~by Pastor Mike Middaugh
This post is part of a series on the miracles of Jesus. Each week I will look at one miracle performed by Jesus to explore its meaning and significance. I’ll be using several resources to help me out, including an excellent new book by Pastor Jared C. Wilson titled “The Wonder Working God,” published by Crossway.
The disciples waited sorrowfully for three long days. Jesus had told them he would die, but of course they didn’t believe it. On multiple occasions he explained that he would not be with them forever. He even told them he would rise again, though that promise must have been the strangest.
Yet, as they waited those three days we have to wonder if any of them would dare believe what he had said. The gospel writers seem to suggest there wasn’t an inking of hope. Only fear. Only dejection. Only longing for things to be different. Not even Peter, the impetuous one, seemed strong enough to rally the others.
Nonetheless their Lord was faithful to his word.
Rise again he did. And Jesus resurrection wasn’t a metaphorical one, like one of the spirits in Dickens’ Christmas Carol. This wasn’t the ghost of “Jesus past” back from the grave to teach the disciples a lesson. And no, he didn’t just resurrect “in the hearts” of his followers.
No, this was real. It was physical, complete and entire. Over and over again the Gospel writers take pains to make the point. His grave cloths were folded. The tomb was empty. The angels gave proclamation. The guards were paid-off to tell no one what they had seen. And if that wasn’t enough, some days later Jesus appeared the disciples and ate some fish where they were gathered. Ghosts don’t eat fish, and neither do spirits – surely this is the Son of God.
The first stanza from novelist John Updike’s Seven Stanzas at Easter states the essential point like this:
Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.
As Updike says, if the resurrection is not real, the Church will surely fall. Our faith has no power if this triumphant miracle really isn’t.
And here’s the reason: The death we face in this life is not metaphorical or symbolic. The pending death we face is real. It is final. It is ultimate. In light of this very real death we do not need one more feel good story, or another self-help solution. In death, we certainly cannot help ourselves.
What we really need is power. Power that is totally and infinitely beyond the realm of this creation. Power that could raise the dead. And that is what our faith offers. That is what this ultimate miracle of Jesus, his resurrection, provides.
Jesus died on a Friday. A day that we now call good. As his disciples sat those three days weighed down by crushed expectations, they thought it was the end. But on Sunday, the 8th day, with the tomb standing open and empty, they slowly began to realize that if Christ was raised, they could be too. And if they could be raised, then so could others. This was hope for the entire world.
That which they thought was the end was really just the beginning.