In the first part of this essay, I explained that the most important element of the resurrection proclamation was that Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead. "Christ" was a title that could have been and was applied to any number of people. But the resurrection proved that Jesus was the one and only true Christ. And from that point on the apostles and early church understood the importance and practiced the use of Jesus' name in everything from baptism to worship to prayer to healing and deliverance. And even though they sometimes used the shorthand title "Christ" they never would have drifted from the exaltation of His personal name. After all Christ is what He is, but Jesus is who He is. And it is the who that brings definition and significance to the what. It's only because of who the Christ is that we know more about who the Father is. For Jesus said, "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14:9). But not only do we see the nature of God in the person of Jesus the Christ, we also see the nature of the kingdom of God. And that brings me to the second reason why on Easter I am particularly interested in declaring "Jesus is risen."
You see, just as there were several pretenders to the messianic throne in Jesus’ day, there were also several points of view about what the Messiah would do when he came. Everyone believed He would usher in God’s kingdom, but what would the kingdom be like and how would He do it? Some thought he would be:
· A military leader who will struggle against the kings of the pagan nations and usher in the end-times.
· A wisdom teacher, who can rule the world "by the strength of his word" and does not need the horses, riders and archers like a military Messiah.
· A high-priest who will defend truth and righteousness by defeating the enemies of Judah and will restore the true Temple worship, which had been defiled and neglected.
· A prophet-restorer who would restore God’s people by speaking on behalf of God with His very words in his mouth.
So not only is it important to speak of “Jesus of Nazareth” being raised from the dead in order proclaim the identity of the Christ and the nature of God, but it is also important because it proves that what He did and how He did it reveals the nature of the kingdom God intends to establish on the earth.
When you look at the king you understand the kingdom. It’s what Jesus ushered in—the kingdom of God. It’s what we mean when we proclaim, "The kingdom of God is near." It’s what we are supposed to seek above all else; above food, clothing and shelter, we are to seek first the kingdom of God. Because the resurrection proved Jesus is the Christ, we now know the nature of kingdom and what we should have in mind when praying, “Thy Kingdom come.”
Jesus Himself made this idea (viz., if you look at me you’ll see the nature of the kingdom) clear one day. The imprisoned John the Baptist, began to have doubts about Jesus’ identity. He sent a couple of his disciples to Jesus to ask:
Matthew 11:3 “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”
Imagine that! The guy who was the first person to point to Jesus and boldly declare, “Look! The lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” now wonders if he was right. And so he sends some friends to ask the question. But Jesus’ reply is more remarkable. He said:
Matthew 11:4-5 “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.”
John wonders, “Are you the Christ?” Jesus says, “Look at what I am doing.” In that one statement Jesus describes the nature of the kingdom He is establishing.
The resurrection proves that Jesus is the true and only Messiah, and that He has ushered in a kingdom unlike any earthly kingdom ever established, based not on power but on inexhaustible, supernatural love.
The way Jesus approached life—self-sacrifice, compassion for the broken and outcast, putting others ahead of yourself always, absolute peace and contentment in the will of God, loving and blessing your enemies—all of these characteristics and more require a resurrection to prove they are possible.
No human being could possibly hope to succeed in this type of life unless the power of evil and the curse of human sin could be broken. But the resurrection proves that’s possible:
Matthew 12:28 But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
The resurrection proves that the person and performance of Jesus of Nazareth reveal and release the kingdom of God. To disconnect the name of Jesus from the title Christ somehow misses the point of Resurrection Sunday.
His title is Christ but his name is Jesus. The resurrection proved that.
Christianity did not spread like wildfire because His disciples kept His teaching alive; it spread from person to person, city to city, nation to nation because Jesus of Nazareth was buried dead but rose up alive.
Christ is risen? Who is risen? Jesus is risen. He is risen indeed. This is the only thing that makes all the difference.
People weren’t baptized in the name of Christ. They were baptized in the name of Jesus. People won't bow to the title Christ. No, every knee will bow at the name of Jesus.
Only people who call on the name of the Lord will be saved.
It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that brings healing.
We gather in His name. We pray in His name. We are washed, sanctified and justified in His name. Whatever we do, we do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him, so that the name of the Lord Jesus may be glorified in us.
Jesus is not the idea of God, He is the image of God.
He is not an ethical standard; He is excellence itself.
He is not a proposition or creed. He is a person.
He is not a divine principle, but divine power.
He is not one of many great leaders, He’s the one and only great God.
Not just a prophet, priest or king. He is the pre-existing, pre-eminent prevailing King of the universe.
There’s not just “something about that name"; there’s everything about that name.
He’s not just sufficient; He’s supreme.
Not just a holy person, but wholly perfect.
Jesus deserves more than praise; we give Him priority.
We don’t explain Him; we exalt Him.
We give Him more than worship; we give Him wonder.
Wonderful Jesus. Matchless Jesus.
Who is risen? This Jesus!