I love Resurrection Sunday. For me it is the highlight of the Church year. Friday is a solemn time of remembering what Jesus achieved for us on the cross of Calvary. However, Sunday is a time of great rejoicing as we acknowledge that He is alive and that we too have eternal life.
The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the fulcrum on which our Christian faith rests. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:14 that “if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith “(NIV). All a skeptic needs to do is disprove the fact of the resurrection and the Christian faith collapses. But two millennia have passed and the resurrection of Jesus Christ still stands uncontested! It is not that many have not tried to disprove the resurrection. However, try as they might, the Gospel witness remains reliable and any historical evidence to the contrary significantly absent.
The fact that Jesus rose from the dead is evidence of His divinity, but it is also evidence of the indescribable power of God the Holy Spirit. Paul prayed that we might know “his incomparably great power for us who believe” and then described this power as “like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead…” Ephesians 1:19-20 (NIV).
First Paul describes the extent of God’s power and then he relates it to us.
In the Greek, Ephesians 1:19 describes God’s incomparable power with four specific words. The first word is Dunamis, translated into English with words such as force, ability, or capability. The second word is Energeia, translated as energy or efficiency. The next word is Kratos, strength, might, and manifest power. The last word is Ischus, meaning inherent power. One word just cannot describe the extent of God’s strength, so the Bible describes it as incomparably great force, ability, capability, energy, efficiency, strength, inherent and manifest power. So much more descriptive than the theological term omnipotence is it not?
Paul then states that God demonstrated His great power by raising Jesus Christ from the dead. On that first Resurrection Sunday, the battered and mortally damaged body of Jesus of Nazareth came alive. The same power that spoke creation into existence not only reanimated Jesus’ physical body, but transformed Him into gloriously eternal physicality. For forty days the glorified Lord of creation lived among His followers and taught them things concerning the Kingdom of Heaven. Then He ascended from this earthly realm and took His place at the Fathers side.
What is really surprising about Paul’s prayer is not so much how he describes God’s power, but who he identifies as its current recipients. J.B.Phillips translates part of verse nineteen as “how tremendous is the power available to us who believe in God.” In the context of Paul’s prayer, that’s us Christians, right?! The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to us! Paul’s prayer came well after Pentecost, so it’s the ongoing church he had in mind, not just the first disciples. I am so very grateful for this because without `power from on high’ how could we live holy lives, let alone minister effectively.
So, this Resurrection Sunday I am going to pray something like this:
“Thank you Lord Jesus for paying the price of my rebellion at Calvary. Thank you Holy Spirit for raising Christ from the dead to reign forever at the Fathers side. Thank you that in His resurrection I have eternal life. Thank you too almighty God that you have made your great power available to me so that I can live and minister to your glory. Amen”
I invite you to join me in this prayer.