Death is final. Who has ever gone beyond the limits of life into the domain of death to return with word of what lies beyond?
Jesus died. There can be no question about that, in spite of current attempts to concoct tales of His swooning so convincingly as to persuade His practiced executioners that He was truly dead. The centurion detailed to hasten His death on the cross by breaking His limbs certified His decease before breaking a single bone. The greater miracle would have been the possibility that He might have still survived under such conditions. But it was not so. He died.
The executioners knew it. His mother knew it. His beloved friend and disciple John knew it. Joseph of Arimathea, member of the high court of Judaism, knew it, for it was he who laid His lifeless body in His own tomb. And for three days His corpse lay there, sealed under guard, lest friends, thinking Him less than dead, should try to revive Him or even to steal away His body in order to proclaim Him yet alive.
How can reasonable people conceive of the possibility of the dead coming to life again? Unless, of course Jesus knew what He was saying when He declared, “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). Could it be true? Was Jesus who He claimed to be?
Look closely at the man: His miraculous birth, the precise correlation of ancient prophecy with the unfolding drama of His life. Listen closely to His words of grace and truth, of hope and salvation. Hear the note of authority in His voice as it grips the hearts of His hearers. Watch Him still the storm, release the possessed, heal the sick, feed the hungry. Stand with the cynical crowd and see Him call His friend Lazarus to life, still bound in grave clothes. Hear from His lips as he hangs upon a Roman cross whispered words of forgiveness for His tormentors. This is the Jesus who says, “I lay down my life—only to take it up again” (John 10:17).
God raised Him from the dead. And in raising Him, He released life-giving, resurrection power into the life of our jaded world. The living Christ strikes off the chains of addiction, binds up the wounds of the abused and lightens the darkness of the despairing. He forgives the sinner and restores us to fellowship with the welcoming Father.
Impossible? “God raised Him from the dead… because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him” (Acts 2:24). He is able to share that life with you and me. And with it, the possibility of a new and abundant life of fellowship with God. “The promise is for you!” (Acts 2:39)
Paul A. Rader, The War Cry