Resurrection. It’s a startling word, a thrilling concept, and a spiritual keystone. It’s an essential for Christianity, a target for skeptics, and a theme for mythology and religions alike. This week gives us as a church another chance to focus uniquely on our central belief that Jesus rose from the dead. But within our church and without, reactions to this glorious truth can vary widely. Such has always been the case, as even a quick survey of biblical history will show.
In Matthew 28, we find out that Mary and Mary Magdalene were the very first followers of Christ to find out about the resurrection. An angel urged them not to be afraid, told them the triumphant news and commanded them to go tell the other disciples. Matthew records that the women responded to the resurrection news “with fear and great joy” (28:8). Their frightened amazement combined with complete joy, culminating in humble worship when they actually got to see Jesus Himself (v. 9). The eleven disciples displayed their own range of reactions, from Peter and John’s breathless footrace (John 20:4-10) to the unbelief of all eleven of the disciples (Mark 16:11, 13, 14).
The NT also records some notable reactions from unbelievers to the resurrection. The religious leaders debated what to do, then deliberately spread a lie in an attempt to discredit the miracle (Matt. 28:12). They even paid money in an attempt to cover up the truth. In Athens, Paul preached the truth to a crowd gathered at the Areopagus. They listened patiently until he proclaimed the resurrection of Christ, at which point some mocked him derisively and others were stirred with curiosity (Acts 17:32). And when Paul declared the resurrection to King Agrippa, the governor of Judea loudly opined that Paul was out of his mind and that all his learning had driven him mad (Acts 26:24).
How are you responding to the resurrection today? Are you filled with joyful worship? Curiously wondering what all the fuss is about? Doubting internally, but afraid to say so? Outright scoffing at the thought of a dead person coming to life? Apathetically believing, going through traditional motions but completely unaffected in your emotions and thoughts? Today is a day for the Gospel to triumph in your heart. It’s a day to confess Jesus to be your Lord and to believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead. It’s my prayer that today you will join the joyful worshippers, humbling yourself before the resurrected One and declaring that He is worthy of all this praise and eternally more.