Focal Passages: Mark 15:33-39; 16:1-7; 1 Corinthians 15:17-19
Several years ago I visited Banff, Alberta, Canada, and took the ski lift to the top of the mountain. The ascent was beautiful, but the view from the top was breathtaking. When we open the Bible to Genesis 1, we begin a biblical climb that takes us to the apex of the cross of Christ. From Calvary we can look back over the Old Testament and see where God was headed as His plan of redemption unfolded. When we look forward to the consummation of the ages, we know it is all made possible by the finished work of Jesus. Even the wonderful truth of resurrection from the dead would not be possible apart from Jesus defeating death at the cross. As the puritan John Owen wrote, the death of Christ brought the death of death.
On the cross Jesus endured alienation from the Father so that our alienation from the Father would be wiped away through faith in His finished work. As God tore the veil in the temple from top to bottom, He showed what we would have through a living Savior – direct access to Himself. Even a pagan Roman soldier realized that Jesus was the Son of God. What a profound inner change comes through the gracious provision of the cross!
The resurrection proved the power of Jesus’ atoning death through the display of His resurrected life. Paul warned that apart from the resurrection of Christ believers past and present have a worthless faith and are still in their sins. Belief in the resurrection means we trust in Christ in this life and we anticipate our future resurrection. The liberal interpretation of the resurrection as Christ rising in our hearts not only guts the gospel, but also raises the question once posed to me by a classmate, “How stupid do we think early Christians were?” They would neither believe nor maintain unto death a message built on false claims of life after death. Christianity that stops at the grave is a sad counterfeit of the resurrection power of Jesus Christ.