Though he had previously persecuted Christians because he thought they were followers of a false teacher, when he met the risen the Jesus, Paul was totally changed. There was no denying this story of Paul’s life history. The resurrection of Jesus changes everything. I wonder if we have taken Jesus’ resurrection for granted? I wonder if it has become ho-hum to us?
If the resurrection of Jesus really happened, it changes everything.
What does that mean? “If Jesus really rose from the dead, it changes everything.” How does it change everything?
First, imagine if the resurrection is false. What would we be left with? As Paul himself says in 1st Corinthians 15, if the resurrection didn’t happen, or as he puts it, if resurrection is not possible, then our preaching is useless, our faith is futile, our sins have not been forgiven, and we are to be pitied above all people. In other words, we’re believing a lie. And we should stop believing the lie. We should stop being Christians, if Jesus did not really rise from the dead.
But if Jesus really did rise from the dead, then hold on. Stop everything. Life cannot go on business as usual. If Jesus really did rise from the dead, then Jesus is God. He is the way, the truth and life, like he said he was. He is a massively big deal. We should give our lives to believe in him, follow him, and live for him.
So how about taking part in a social experiment this week with your family and friends, neighbors and co-workers. Ask them what they think about Jesus’ resurrection. First, do they believe it actually happened? Or do they think it didn’t happen? Second, ask them, if it did happen, what does it matter? What is the significance of Jesus’ resurrection? Does it matter only to Christians? Or does it matter to everyone?
Paul clearly thought the resurrection mattered to everyone. When the risen Jesus proved to Paul that he, Jesus, was alive, Paul did a complete turnaround. Paul went from persecuting Christians to being a passionate Christian, giving his life to talk about how Jesus was alive, and how Jesus’ resurrection makes it possible for a whole new life, a whole new world.
Consider what he said in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. I life I live in the body, I live by faith in the son of God who loved me and gave his life for me.”
Or Philippians 3:10-11, where Paul writes, “I want to know Christ, and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so somehow to attain to the resurrection of the dead.”
Or consider Ephesians 1:19, continuing a prayer starting in verse 17, where Paul prays that Christians might know God’s “incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead.”
Just as God raised Jesus to new life, he wants to raise us to new life as well, and amazingly, as Paul says, he wants us to experience his new life by living in us. His new life, his power, is in us, at work in us.
That’s why I have come to emphasize, in the last 15 years or so, what Jesus called the abundant life, which is his life in us, by his Spirit. I still very much appreciate the hope of eternal life, a concept that is important. But I appreciate Paul’s vision for human transformation now, which is possible only because of the resurrection of Jesus, and the power that God wants to work in our lives.
We need to talk about this! Do you need to start talking about it?
The transformative power of the resurrection available to all people is how we talk about Jesus! We tell the story of how he is alive and well and still at work in our lives, and he wants all people to know him and experience the abundant new life that only he can bring.