We will celebrate Easter in a couple of weeks, the most significant event in human history. During that weekend, we will remember Christ’s suffering in Gethsemane, His death on Calvary and His resurrection on Easter morning.
These events are the core of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We call this the Atonement. (Rom. 5:11 KJV)
While the scriptures record instances of persons raised from the dead, those persons were still mortal. When they died, their spirit left their body. When they were raised from the dead, their spirit came back into the same mortal body. They would still die again at some point in the future.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ was something qualitatively different. When He died, His spirit left His body. However, when He was resurrected, His spirit was reunited with a perfect, immortal body that would never again die. Jesus was the first to be resurrected. Paul wrote, “now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.” (1 Cor. 15:20 KJV)
Christ’s disciples had not expected this. It is hard to imagine how sad they must have been when Jesus was killed. When they went to the tomb early that Sunday morning, they were surprised to find the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. The angels said to them, “Why seek ye the living among the dead?” (Luke 24:5 KJV) How amazed and joyful they must have felt! Yet still it must have been difficult to comprehend.
The resurrected savior appeared to the apostles. They thought they were seeing a spirit, but Jesus said to them, “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.” (Luke 24:39 KJV) Truly the spirit of Jesus Christ had been reunited with His body never to be separated again.
The scripture records that Jesus went on to eat fish and honeycomb with His disciples. It was Jesus and He was alive.
Because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we all shall be resurrected one day. Paul wrote, “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Cor. 15:21-22 KJV)
The resurrection of the dead began soon after Christ’s resurrection. “The graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.” (Matt. 27:52-53 KJV)
While everyone will be resurrected, the resurrection will not be the same for everyone. John wrote, “The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” (John 5:28-29 KJV) Our choices, especially our choices to repent and change, will make the difference.
For those who have been born into this mortal life, or those who yet will be, the resurrection is a gift from Jesus Christ. Death is not the end. Someday we will shed these imperfect, mortal bodies and someday we will be given perfect and immortal bodies. Everyone will be resurrected. And so we joyfully sing that Charles Wesley hymn, “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today.” Alleluia!