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What the Resurrection Means

General Superintendent Doug Clay shares some devotional thoughts for Easter.
It was the darkest Sunday morning ever. The disciples were exhausted and afraid. They had seen blind eyes healed, paralysis reversed, and food appear from nowhere. When they walked away from the tomb, they were discouraged, distraught, disillusioned. Their hope was gone.

Many share those same feelings of discouragement, distress, and disillusionment as we approach Easter this year. Every month it seems a new variant of COVID-19 begins to spread. A brutal war is raging in Eastern Europe. Society itself seems to be breaking apart at the seams.

Yes, the disciples were frightened. In fact, so frightened, that they locked themselves in a room huddled around the ashes of their own shared dreams.

Jesus was dead. He was buried in a tomb on the north side of Jerusalem — and buried with him were the hopes of 11 men who believed they might rule in the world to come.

Then it happened. Never before in history or in the realm of nature had it happened, but the SON rose in the north.

In Luke 9:22, Jesus forewarned His disciples that He would be killed and raised to life again after three days. Again, in verse 44, He predicts His death to the disciples. In verse 45, we read, “But they didn’t know what he meant. Its significance was hidden from them, so they couldn’t understand it, and they were afraid to ask him about it.”

In the times of crisis we face, let’s not lose the significance of what the Resurrection means. Let’s remind ourselves and those around us of the hope, promise, and power in the resurrection of Christ!

“And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:14, 17).

Without the Resurrection, our faith would be futile — truly useless. We can be thankful that His death means death to our sins and His life means new and eternal life for us. Not only does our faith find its basis in the resurrection of Christ, but we are continually strengthened in our faith through the hope it provides for us.

Think about it. The first declarative act of each new Christian is water baptism. Through baptism, each new believer is reminded of the power of the Resurrection to raise us from spiritual death to new life in Christ. That makes the worries of this life seem insignificant. If the very power of sin and death was destroyed in the Resurrection, what do we have to fear in this life?

“And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17).

“He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” (Romans 4:25).

Had there been no resurrection we would still be in our sins. Forgiveness requires both the Cross and the Resurrection. That's why the apostle Paul says that if Christ had not risen from the dead, we'd still be in our sin. When Christ died on the Cross, eternal life was purchased. When Christ rose from the dead, that gift was provided for us.

You see, there's a big difference between purchasing a gift and providing a gift. A gift was purchased on Friday. It was given on Sunday.

How was the gift provided? John 7:39 says, “By this He meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.”

After the resurrection of Christ, the Spirit was released. The Spirit brings eternal life to us. Christ paid the price. The Father released the Spirit. According to Romans 8:11, it’s the same Spirit that raised Chris from the dead that lives in us! That's how we experience forgiveness. This same Spirit is alive and available today.

“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when He comes, those who belong to Him” (1 Corinthians 15:20-23).

Because I belong to Jesus, I will live forever. He lives forever and so will I.

When Paul speaks of “firstfruits,” he’s referring to the first of more to come! When the children of Israel went out into the field to gather their harvest. They would bring the first part of it before the Lord as a "firstfruit" offering. It meant that here is the first of the harvest, but there's more to come.

On that Sunday morning — the day the Son rose in the north — He was the firstfruit of every human being who thereafter would follow and believe in Him. Because He rose, we, too, will rise. Because He lives, we too will live.

My future is settled because Christ rose. If I die, my spirit will rise to live with the Lord forever. Until then, I still have a settled future. That’s good news!

Doug Clay

General Superintendent

The General Council of the Assemblies of God

See full bio.