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)!

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)

John Stott on the Swoon Theory

The swoon theory was advanced by the German theologian and Biblical critic Heinrich Paulus (Miller, Jesus Christ is Alive, 38). This idea asserts that Christ suffered terribly on the cross, He suffered from shock, and swooned but did not die. The disciples thought he was dead (and apparently so did the Roman guards and Dr. Luke) so Jesus was buried in haste due to the approaching Sabbath. While in the cool air of the tomb, Jesus awakened. John Stott responds,

[Can we really believe] that after the rigours and pains of trial, mockery, flogging and crucifixion he could survive…in a stone sepulcher with neither warmth nor food nor medical care? That he could then rally sufficiently to perform the superhuman feat of shifting the boulder which secured the mouth of the tomb…without disturbing the Roman guard? That he could appear to the disciples in such a way as to give them the impression that he had vanquished death? … Such credulity is more incredible than Thomas’ unbelief (Stott, Basic Christianity, 49).