2 Timothy 2:1-10
Easter is a festival of the Christian churches, whose aim is to celebrate Jesus’ rising from the dead. On this beautiful day, we recall the history and the facts of Jesus’s resurrection so as to strengthen our faith, further experience His resurrected life, respond to the Great Commission He entrusted to us, and to proclaim the gospel of His resurrection.
Believe firmly in the Resurrection of Jesus
According to the verses from the Book of Mark (Mark 15:22-37), Jesus was crucified on the cross at nine o’clock in the morning. He was suffering in great agony until three o’clock in the afternoon when he breathed his last. Joseph from Arimathea went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Following the Jewish customs, Joseph embalmed and then wrapped the body in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own tomb (Matthew 27:57-60). Jesus prophesized when He was alive that He would be crucified on the cross, but he would be raised from the dead on the third day (Matthew 20:18-19). The Jews’ religious leaders did not believe in that and thought the disciples of Jesus would steal the body and fake the resurrection of Jesus, so they asked Pilate, the governor of the Roman authorities in Judah, to send soldiers sealing the tomb stone secure and guarding it in preventing the fulfillment of what Jesus had said (Matthew 27:62-66). However, what surprised all was Jesus was raised from dead on the third day in the morning, leaving an empty tomb (Matthew 28:1-8).
He presented Himself alive to His disciples for forty days (Acts 1: 3). During these days, over 500 people had seen the resurrected Jesus (1Corinthians 15:1-8). Here, it is worthwhile to make a special mention of three men, namely, Peter from the Twelve Apostles, Jacob, Jesus’s brother, and Disciple Paul.
On the night Jesus was arrested, someone said that disciple Peter knew Jesus, while Peter chose to deny Jesus for three times for fear that he could lose his life either (Matthew 26: -69–75). Nevertheless, after Jesus was raised from dead, He appeared to Peter and strengthened him when Peter was in despair and frustration, which helps Peter regain the courage and strength to fearlessly become the witness of the gospel of the Resurrection of Jesus (John 21: -15- 19; Acts 4: 1- 12).
Jesus’ brother Jacob did not believe that Jesus was sent by God before He was raised from dead (John 7: 1- 9), so Jesus especially presented Himself to Jacob (1Corinthians 15: 5- 8) and made Jacob believe Jesus is truly the son of God! Since then, Jacob was completely changed and began to preach the gospel of the Resurrection of Jesus. Later, he became the leader and the pillar of church (Galatians 2: 9). Jacob hosted the first conference in Jerusalem and also was responsible for organizing the daily work for the church in Jerusalem (Acts 15).
Disciple Paul used to be called Saul, who crazily persecuted the disciples of Jesus. On his way to Damascus where he would arrest the disciples of Jesus with the letter from the high priest at hand, Paul met Jesus who appeared to him after the Resurrection. At this time, Paul repented and converted to the Lord. He changed his name to Paul, and turned from a person who used to deny Jesus and spare no effort in persecuting people believing in the Resurrection of Jesus, to a person who preached the Lord’s words with burning enthusiasm (Acts 9: 1- 22).
The resurrected Jesus changed numerous people including His disciples who used to reject Him, His family who did not believe in Him and Paul as well who even used to persecute Him. Even today, a countless number of people have changed their living ethics and values because of the Resurrection of Jesus.
The Resurrection of Jesus is an undeniable matter of fact.
Experience Jesus’s resurrected life
‘Because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.’ (Romans 10:9- 10) ‘Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3: 23). ‘For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ (Romans 6: 23) Jesus will forgive our sins and save us from sins and death as long as we have faith in this resurrected Jesus.
If we choose to believe in Jesus and accept Him as our savior, we will be the children of God. ‘But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.’ (John 1: 12) ‘And because you are children, God has sent the spirits of his Son into your hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father’ ’ (Galatians 4:6). For we are the children of God, we are entitled to pray to our Father God. ‘Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.’ (Hebrew 4:16)
God sent the spirits of his Son Jesus into our hearts so that we could resurrect and own the spiritual life. ‘Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.’ (1 John 5:12) The life of rebirth enables us to do righteousness and shun sins. (1 John 2:29, 3: 9, 5:18) We have been given spiritual life and love and forgiveness are in our hearts. (1 John 4:7)
For the spirit of Jesus resides in our hearts and always be with us, we never feel lonely. (1 John 4:13) The greatness of the life of Jesus Christ shines upon us, so that we could win the victory of life, and triumph over ourselves, sins and the environment. (1John 5:4)
With the rebirth spirit of Jesus in our hearts, we know the truth and have the hope for resurrection. When our days on earth end, our saved spirits should wait in the Paradise. His second coming will raise us from the dead so that our resurrected and immortal bodies together will ascend to the kingdom of Christ. How blessed! When Christ comes again, the bodies of those disciples who are alive will be changed and become imperishable so as to enjoy the eternal blessing in the kingdom of Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:50-55, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
Proclaim the gospel of the resurrection of Jesus
We experience Jesus’s salvation to obtain the resurrected lives. Now we live with Jesus in the anticipation of being gloriously resurrected in the future. How great the grace God gives us! Our faith should be steadfast and immovable, and our heart should be full of thanksgiving. We should always be excelling in the work of God to proclaim the gospel of the resurrection of Jesus, because we know that our labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15: 58)
Disciple Paul bore the sufferings of hardship for the gospel, even to the point of being chained like a criminal. Nevertheless, he firmly believed that he himself was chained, yet the word of God could not be chained. The existence of those thriving churches historically proves that the truth can never be destroyed. Paul was never frustrated, nor disappointed. He was willing to fearlessly undertake the sufferings for the sake of others being saved by Jesus Christ and obtaining the grace and everlasting glory. (2 Timothy 2:9-10)
We are encouraged by the grace of Christ, impelled by the saint and sages from the ancient past. May we are excelling in declaring the resurrection of Jesus who is the savior of the sin, and the savior of life, by the strength the resurrected Jesus. The resurrection of Jesus is undeniable; the life of the resurrected Jesus is indispensable; the gospel of the resurrection of Jesus should be proclaimed. May we firmly believe the resurrection of Jesus as a matter of fact, further experience the resurrected life of Jesus, greatly proclaim the gospel of the resurrection of Jesus, and benefit from the gospel with people. Amen!
(Authored by the general secretary of Zhejiang Cixi Committee of Three-self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches in China)