And Their Eyes Were Opened: A Life-Changing Encounter with the Risen Christ

If you are an unbelieving skeptic about the resurrection, you’re not alone.  So were the first followers of Jesus,

But these words [the report of the empty tomb] seemed as an idle tale, and they did not believe them (Luke 24:11).

Theirs was a raw but open faith.  When they encountered and communed with the risen Christ, their eyes were opened,

When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. [31] And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him . . . (Luke 24:30-31)

I pray that many professing Christians’ faith would be strengthened on Resurrection Sunday.

Maybe you are on the opposite end of the spectrum.  Arms crossed, as it were, when it comes to embracing the Christian faith as your own.  Naturalism has gripped your sensibilities and so you reject a system of faith that centers on supernatural events like the resurrection of Jesus.  It is true that Christianity is a supernatural religion but it is false to believe that the natural world and this life is all there is.  My prayer for you is that God would take your unbelief and skepticism and grant you belief and conviction in the resurrected Christ by means of repentance and faith,

testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21)

If Jesus is not your Savior, He will be your Judge in the life to come.  The resurrection is proof of this, as the Apostle Paul told the Greeks in the Athens,

The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, [31] because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead (Acts 17:30-31)

Receive the gift of forgiveness of sins and eternal life that Jesus offers–now–while you have breath.  As Jesus Himself said,

to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me (Acts 26:18)

and

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. [17] For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. [18] Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (John 3:16-18)

God receives all who come to Him, even if they come seeking the living among the dead,

It is, therefore, an astonishing display of the goodness of Christ, that he kindly, and generously presents himself alive to the women, who did no wrong in seeking him among the dead.  Now if he did not permit them to come in vain to his grave, we may conclude with certainty, that those who now aspire to him by faith will not be disappointed . . . (John Calvin, Commentaries, 17:340).

John Calvin’s comment on the resurrection narrative is nothing more than an echo of what Jesus said in the Gospel of John,

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out (John 6:37)

I pray that you will enter into a personal relationship with Christ.  Belief in the resurrection of Jesus is essential to conversion,

. . . if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9)

Once you have received Christ as your Savior, then you can join the joyful and victorious chorus of millions of Christian voices, who exclaim on Resurrection/Easter Sunday,

The Lord has risen indeed . . . (Luke 24:34)!

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He is Risen!

The light of day pierces the darkness; the dawn is met with the triumphant news, “He is Risen!”  Jesus died on a cruel Roman cross, was buried, and rose again, signaling His full and final victory over sin and death!  He is Risen Indeed!

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, [18] and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades” (Revelation 1:17-18, ESV).

Vain the stone, the watch, the seal, Alleluia!
Christ hath burst the gates of hell, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids His rise, Alleluia!
Christ hath opened paradise, Alleluia!

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once He died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

Hail, the Lord of earth and Heaven, Alleluia!
Praise to Thee by both be given, Alleluia!
Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
Hail, the resurrection, thou, Alleluia!
(Charles Wesley, “Christ the Lord is Risen Today,” 1739)

A Resurrection Text, Hymn, and Image

Every Lord’s Day is a day to worship the risen Christ.  Yet Easter/Resurrection Sunday gives us a special opportunity to highlight this glorious event!  I will be preaching from John 20:1-18 tomorrow.  So the resurrection text I’ll share with you is John’s account of the resurrection, the hymn is Charles Wesley’s, “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today,” which undoubtedly will be sung widely and joyously by Christians all around the world tomorrow, and the image is a depiction of the empty tomb. 

Rejoice my brothers and sisters!  He is Risen! 

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. [2] So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” [3] So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. [4] Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. [5] And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. [6] Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, [7] and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. [8] Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; [9] for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. [10] Then the disciples went back to their homes. [11] But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. [12] And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. [13] They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” [14] Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. [15] Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” [16] Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). [17] Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” [18] Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.

Christ, the Lord, is risen today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth, reply, Alleluia!

Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Lo! the Sun’s eclipse is over, Alleluia!
Lo! He sets in blood no more, Alleluia!

Vain the stone, the watch, the seal, Alleluia!
Christ hath burst the gates of hell, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids His rise, Alleluia!
Christ hath opened paradise, Alleluia!

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once He died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

Soar we now where Christ hath led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

Hail, the Lord of earth and Heaven, Alleluia!
Praise to Thee by both be given, Alleluia!
Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
Hail, the resurrection, thou, Alleluia!

King of glory, Soul of bliss, Alleluia!
Everlasting life is this, Alleluia!
Thee to know, Thy power to prove, Alleluia!
Thus to sing and thus to love, Alleluia!

Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
Unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluia!
Who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
Sinners to redeem and save. Alleluia!

But the pains that He endured, Alleluia!
Our salvation have procured, Alleluia!
Now above the sky He’s King, Alleluia!
Where the angels ever sing. Alleluia!

Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
Who did once upon the cross, Alleluia!
Suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!