Anastasis

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I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said.
– 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

Prepositions are important in any language but especially in the original language of the New Testament which we know as Koine Greek. Prepositions give direction to an action and consist of words like up, down, over, under, before, after, into, out of, in, upon, about, etc. Often they are attached to a verb to form a compound word that precisely explains what took place.

One of those compound words happens to be one of the most important in the Bible and on which Christianity either rises or falls. It is the word anastasis. It is made up of the preposition, ana, which means “up” and the verb, stasis, which means “to stand.” Taken together it literally means, “to stand up.” It is used 42 times in the New Testament and it means the resurrection of a body from the dead.

In just three weeks Christians all over the world will celebrate, in my view, the greatest event that ever took place in the history of mankind, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The resurrection of Jesus is tantamount to the very creation of man in the beginning of the world. In fact, it is the quintessential doctrine of the Christian church. That’s why we celebrate it every Easter.

The apostle Paul dedicated a whole chapter in his letter to the church in Corinth in defense of the cardinal doctrine of the resurrection,

“if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world. But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died” (l Corinthians 15:17-20).

Peter’s great sermon on the Day of Pentecost also confirms this truth about that capstone event in our Lord’s life,

“Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact” (Acts 2:29-34).

Even though there is some dispute today of exactly where that tomb of David is located, suffice it to say that in Peter’s day it was readily identifiable. The point he was making was that the prophecy could not have been all about David because David’s body was still in that tomb. However, when Jesus’ followers went to his tomb after his death, it was empty! Why? Because God had raised Jesus up from the dead. Anastasis! God stood him up!

In contrast to other religions, Islam’s prophet Mohammed died in Medina (Saudi Arabia) in the year 632. He was buried in the Al-Masjid al-Nabawi (Mosque of the Prophet), which today contains his tomb. Millions go each year to see his gravesite and say their prayers because the bones of his dead body are still there. Confucius died in China in 479 B.C. His tomb is still there and so are his remains. Buddha died in 483 B.C. at the age of 80. His disciples gave him an elaborate funeral, burned his body, and distributed his bones as sacred relics. But I ask you this question: “Wouldn’t you rather have the whole man alive again than some of his dead dry bones?”

The resurrection of Jesus Christ was witnessed by over 500 of his followers (1 Corinthians 15:6), including all of the apostles (John 20:26) and the women who went to his tomb (Matthew 28:8-9). Stephen, as he was being martyred saw the risen Christ (Acts 7:55) as did the apostle Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-6) and the apostle John in the book of Revelation. Seeing is believing!

When the disciples looked at him, there was no doubt it was Jesus, just as they knew him before his death. There was no mistaking who he was, and there will be no mistaking who you are when you and your loved ones are raised from the dead as believers in Jesus Christ, the Son of God for that is the promise of every believer, as well.

I’ll know you and you’ll know me but with some great differences. We will all have been “changed into His likeness from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18). We will be like Christ. Oh, my! I can’t wait.

Before you go, enjoy the closing resurrection scene from the movie, The Son of God. Yes, He is risen. He is risen, indeed!

To help us walk closer with God and to know Him better

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