The key event of Bible history – and of all human history – is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. It is impossible to overstate its importance. If Christ was not raised from the dead, declared the apostle Paul, then we who believe in Him are “of all men most to be pitied.” But Christ actually was raised from the dead – a fact to which over five hundred persons were eye-witnesses in the forty days between His resurrection and ascension. These witnesses were chosen with care, for testifying to Christ’s resurrection was quite dangerous in those days. In fact, tradition tells us that of the twelve apostles chosen by Jesus, only one died from natural causes and not persecution – and that one only because he had survived being boiled in oil. That these witnesses would have suffered and died for such a lie is inconceivable. Thus we may count it as fact that Jesus Christ was resurrected from the dead and now reigns in heaven.
Ancient Israel had long cherished a hope for the resurrection of the dead. They had also long cherished hope in a coming Messiah. What they had not understood until the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, however, was that the two hopes were inextricably woven together – like two puzzle pieces that had been kept separate until the moment when they were shown to be interlocking. Moses’ prophecy that God would one day “raise up a prophet like me” took on for them a staggeringly more vivid meaning.
With the resurrection of Jesus and His ascension into heaven, in fact, the entirety of the Scriptures took on a completely new hue. What was previously written to describe earthly matters was now shown to have a spiritual dimension as well. Of course, while Scripture had been penned by humans, these documents were inspired by the Holy Spirit of God who had both dimensions in mind all along.
Here is what makes the resurrection of Jesus Christ not just important, but pivotal: through this event God means to turn our attention to the unseen world. Though we have known Jesus according to the flesh (i.e. He lived an earthly life in first century Palestine) we now know Him according to the spirit (i.e. He reigns invisibly in heaven). This shift in the focus of our attention takes us into the realm of faith – for faith is the conviction of things we cannot see. By faith in Him, we can build a new life, drawing on God’s goodness and power.
A mind focused only on those aspects of creation that can be seen can never perceive God – for God is unseen. This has been the problem for humanity since the garden of Eden: We have tended to trust and make judgments upon only what we can see. Through Jesus Christ, God lived a perfect life in this seen world so that we could have confidence about how He thinks and acts in the unseen world. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Live your life in the light of His eyes.
For more context, see this overview.
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