Christ is risen!

John 20:1–18

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!
그리스도 부활하셨네! 참으로 부활하셨네!

Indonesian – Kristus telah bangkit! Dia benar-benar telah bangkit!

Filipino – Si Kristo ay nabuhay! Totoo! Siya nga ay nabuhay!

Afrikaans – Christus het opgestaan! Hy het waarlik opgestaan!

Old English – Crist aras! Crist soþlice aras!

These are the words of the Paschal greeting or Easter Acclamation. This is a traditional Christian greeting on Easter Day. In some cultures, such as in Russia and Serbia but not in England or Korea, it is also customary to exchange a triple kiss of peace on the alternating cheeks after the greeting. Let’s try it. The greeting, not the kiss. First I will greet you. And then you respond.

(greeting) Alleluia. Christ is risen!
할렐루야. 그리스도 부활하셨네!

(response) He is risen indeed! Alleluia.
참으로 부활하셨네! 할렐루야.

Now let’s greet each other with these traditional words originally from Luke 24:34.

(greeting) Alleluia. Christ is risen. 할렐루야. 그리스도 부활하셨네!

(response) He is risen indeed. Alleluia. Alleluia. 참으로 부활하셨네! 할렐루야.

Why, down through the ages, has this been the traditional greeting of Christians?

We don’t go around greeting each other with the words, ‘Alleluia. Christ has been brutally murdered by the Romans.’ We don’t say Alleluia, Christ is crucified. Hoorah, he has been executed on a cross. Praise God!

We don’t do that. We don’t say those words because the life and work of Jesus did not end the day he died. Christians have traditionally greeted each other with a reminder of the most important event of human history. The resurrection of Jesus is the most important thing that has happened since mankind fell. The death of Jesus was an important milestone, we must never belittle it. What Jesus accomplished on the cross was to save us all from death.

God asked Jesus to die for us. Jesus trusted God and was willing to die for us.

He loved us more than his own life. God led Jesus to be betrayed by one of his closest disciples. Jesus remained faithful, not questioning God. Not doubting God. When all of his disciples ran away and abandoned him, he trusted God. Jesus was willing to be insulted and mocked instead of us. He trusted God in all these things. When the death he faced was the most insulting and painful death, Jesus still trusted God and loved God.

Nailed to the cross and about to die, he loved us and forgave us for causing his suffering. When even God abandoned him, Jesus still trusted God. That must have been the very worst moment of all, when Satan was most loudly celebrating. Satan shouting out that he had won.

Mankind is sinful, separated from God. The fate of people who die separated from God is to be eternally separated from God. The Bible says that people who are separated from God are dead. They are dead spiritually, which is true death. On the cross Jesus didn’t just die a physical death, he took upon himself our own spiritual death and was separated from God his father for the first time ever. And still he loved us, and still he remained faithful.

Up to here it is the most amazing and incredible act of love the world has known. Up to here it is entirely believable. Most people have no trouble with the story this far. But this is not the story that the earliest Christians reminded each other of when they met. The other story is the one that Satan really doesn’t want you to believe. Christ is risen! The grave is empty.

Christians claim that the historical human being Jesus of Nazareth was executed, but then rose from the dead and stayed alive. He was seen by many people. Then he was seen to vanish into the invisible realm. Here we have the most revolutionary and radical question of human history. Did it really happen?

There are only three plausible options: first, that Jesus rose from the dead as Christians contend; second, that Jesus of Nazareth didn’t really die; and third, that he died, but that somehow his body disappeared and his disciples came to believe that he rose from the dead. The first question therefore is, did Jesus really die?

The answer is, Yes! The Romans said, Yes! The Jews said, Yes! The followers of Jesus said, Yes!

There is absolutely no doubt that Jesus died horribly on a Roman cross.

As it is written in 1 John 3:16. “We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.”

Some people start to wriggle and feel uncomfortable at the next step. The idea of Jesus being resurrected is harder for them to accept. We all know about people dying. How many of us have ever seen a person resurrected? Lies and falsehoods were spread about this from day one, because this is the more important fact. Jesus said it would happen. Read Matthew 16:21.

“From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead.”

His disciples recorded this because they believed it.

After his resurrection, Jesus was seen by hundreds of people. One or two disciples might be able to keep up a deception, but not hundreds of strangers. At one time Jesus in his resurrection body appeared in front of 500 people.

The unrelenting faith of the disciples is surely the strongest confirmation of the resurrection. Disciples who were once so afraid that they deserted their Master started to courageously proclaim this news at the risk of their lives. It meant death for most of them. They were martyred. Their bold and courageous behaviour does not make sense unless they were sure that Jesus had risen from the dead.

Thousands and thousands of people believed this truth. The church spread and grew because it is the truth. A lie doesn’t have this power, only God’s truth does.

“Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all.” (Acts 2:41)

The final reason is the testimony of hundreds of millions of transformed lives through the centuries. These lives show the power of the resurrection. Many have been delivered from addictions. The destitute and despairing have found hope. Broken marriages have been restored. The most conclusive proof for the resurrection of Jesus Christ is that he is living within believers today in all of his resurrected life and transforming power.

The resurrection is so important that it was the first thing the first Christians said to each other. The resurrection confirms that Jesus is who he claimed to be.

The resurrection is proof that Jesus is the Messiah. Dying on a cross didn’t prove that.

“He was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 1:4)

Because Jesus is risen we also will have eternal life. “And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins.” (1 Corinthians 15:17)

The resurrection is the defeat of Satan. From the moment of rebellion until the day of the Cross, the devil fought viciously and cunningly against God. Satan must have thought he had dealt the final and decisive blow in this age-old war. But when Jesus arose, the power of sin and death was forever shattered. Because of the resurrection, Christians need never fear Satan or death. The resurrection is the final proof that Jesus is who he claimed to be. Alleluia!

Amen 아멘

About Pastor Simon

Pastor at Jinju International Christian Fellowship. Formerly of Eastbourne, East Sussex, UK. I am Simon Warner of Jinju Church. We speak English at Jinju Church, South Korea.
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