As we hike in the mountains, one sight that always amazes me—besides the splendor of God’s creation—is a plant, bush or tree growing out of solid rock. Knowing that it takes lots of TLC for us to get plants and shrubs and trees to take root and grow, I always marvel at how God doesn’t seem to have a problem growing them—even out of the rocks! Oh, yes, and then there are always the dandelions or other weeds that spring up out of a tiny crack in the sidewalk or pavement. To me, it is a picture of the “power of the resurrection.” Jesus, after all, burst forth “out of the rock.” Yesterday after we had celebrated Christ’s resurrection from the dead, we took a walk in an area that displays a variety of beautiful spring wildflowers and noticed another reminder of life coming out of death—a ponderosa pine tree (our state tree) about eight feet tall, growing out of the center of an old tree stump.
Jesus Christ came into a world of humanity living in darkness under the curse of sin and death. First to hear about the birth of the Messiah-Redeemer were shepherds out in the hills of Bethlehem, “keeping watch over their flocks by night” when “an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. And the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior who is Christ the Lord” (Lk. 2:8-11). It was as bright as mid-day at midnight as the “Light of the World” came to earth (Jn. 8:12).
Then, having been rejected by His own (the Jews), Jesus was betrayed by one of His own disciples, arrested, tried, beaten, scourged and crucified. As he was hanging on the cross, bearing the wrath of God in punishment for our sins, there was darkness on the earth. It was as black as midnight at mid-day (Lk. 23:44). After suffering for the sins of the world of humanity, Jesus “said, ‘It is finished!’ And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit” (Jn. 19:30). Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea (secret followers of Jesus) asked to take Jesus’ body, prepared it for burial and then placed His body in a new garden tomb (Jn. 19:38-41 cf Isa. 53:9).
What a solemn Saturday (Sabbath) must have followed, as Jesus’ family, friends and followers were in shock over what had just happened. The disciples, who were hiding out in fear in the upper room, must have been thinking “if only we had done more to stop Him from coming to Jerusalem or to resist when they came to arrest Him or gone to speak up for Him at His trial.” I’m sure there was much confusion, discouragement and guilt. Think about poor Peter who had vowed to die for Him if need be, but then denied even knowing Him! Think of Jesus’ mother who had to have been horrified to see the things done to her beloved, sinless son, helpless to do anything. That Saturday had to seem like an eternity—but Sunday was a coming! In just a few hours, early Sunday morning, when the women went to the tomb, they, of course discovered the stone had been rolled away and the tomb was empty. Then two angels “suddenly stood near them in dazzling apparel…and said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has arisen’” (Lk. 24:4-6).
Jesus, in His resurrected, glorified body made several appearances to His disciples and other believers and then forty days later gathered His disciples together and “commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised” (Acts 1:4). Jesus, of course was referring to the sending of the Holy Spirit to indwell believers at Pentecost (cf Jn. 14:26; 15:26: 16:7). He added, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be witnesses unto me…to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1: 8).
During those forty days Jesus spent on earth after His resurrection, the disciples, excited that Jesus was alive, were still powerless to be His ambassadors until ten days after His ascension, when, on the Day of Pentecost, God sent the Holy Spirit to indwell them. Then we see a total transformation in the disciples as they—who had been fearful and confused—began boldly preaching the gospel of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Suddenly they really were both willing and able to lay down their lives for Christ, and most did, as they were martyred for their faith. What made the difference? It was the power of the resurrected Christ who now lived in them through the Holy Spirit. Paul wrote: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and delivered Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20). Paul’s effective ministry as the missionary to the Gentiles, was possible because of the power of the resurrected Christ living in and through Him.
What was true for the disciples as the Holy Spirit came to indwell them, and through the Spirit, Christ in them, has been true for everyone since who has trusted in Christ as Savior. We have the power of the resurrection through Christ living in us. This past Saturday, we witnessed what that power can do. We held a “celebration of life” service for Debbie Dare, who had served as janitor at Three Lakes Community Bible Church for many, many years and had done so many other things for the church body. She was a “Dorcas” disciple! Her son, Chaz, married with three children, gave a beautiful eulogy. Chaz’s dad died the day before His mom passed away! His mom and dad were divorced not too long after Chaz was born. Chaz not only eulogized his mom, but really preached a powerful message of the transforming power of the resurrected Christ in both his life and in his mom’s. It was great testimony to the power we have within us. There is no other explanation for Chaz’s ability to do what He did.
Praise God for the “power of the resurrection” which is available to all of us as believers.