By Cecil M. Robeck, Jr
The events that led to the death of our Lord are still fresh in our memories. We have spent 40 days in repentance. Yet today, Easter, we are all witnesses to the marvelous miracle of his Resurrection.
Remember Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones (Ezek 37:1-14). When Ezekiel first sees the bones, all he sees is death. There is nothing but bones, picked clean by scavengers and parched by the desert sun. Just bones!
Then the Lord asks whether he thinks these bones could live. He must have been thinking, “There isn’t the ghost of a chance that these bones might live.” But Ezekiel is in the presence of the life-giving Lord and he responds with something like, “You know the answer better than I do.”
So God commands Ezekiel to prophesy. There is a clattering of bones as they reassemble. Ezekiel watches, while these bones are covered with muscles and tendons, then by flesh, and finally with skin. But they are still not alive. Then the Lord instructs Ezekiel to prophesy to the Divine breath, and as he does, the breath blows through them. This multitude of human forms becomes an army of living people who stand before Ezekiel. Loosely translated, the Lord instructs Ezekiel to prophesy:
‘Pay attention, My people!’
‘I am going to open your graves and bring you back to life!
After that you will know [that] I, the Eternal, have done what I said I would do’.
Today, many people think of Jesus only as that great man who walked the land of Israel nearly 2,000 years ago. The Resurrection proclaims Jesus Christ is alive!
John the Apostle bears witness that on the Lord’s Day, nearly 60 years after Jesus had walked the roads of Israel, the Risen Christ Jesus appeared to him. John writes of that encounter (Rev 1:17-18):
17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. (NRSV)
The Lord stands in our midst today proclaiming, “I, the Eternal One, have done what I said I would do!” I have provided the “Messiah”, the “Savior” that I said I would provide (Acts 13:23)! By my Spirit, I have raised Jesus, my “Anointed One” from the dead (Rom 6:4; 8:11)! I have “exalted him to the highest place and given him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:9-11). I have made it possible for you to be freed from your sin (Jn 5:21; Acts 13:38-39; Rom 4:24-25, 10:9)! I have made it possible for you to receive eternal life (Rom 10:11)! I have guaranteed your resurrection through this Resurrection, the first fruit of all resurrections for those found in him (1 Cor 15:20; 1 Thess 4:13-18)! “The Son of Man is seated at my right hand, and he will come on the clouds of heaven for those who have placed their trust in me” (Lk 22:69; Mt 26:64)!
“I, the Eternal One, Have Done What I Said I Would Do!” The tomb is empty! The witnesses are secure! The message is clear! Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen, indeed! Alleluia!
Cecil M. Robeck, Jr, an Assemblies of God Minister, serves as Senior Professor of Church History and Ecumenics at Fuller Theological Seminary. His historical publications focus on early Pentecostalism. He has engaged in ecumenical dialogue for 35 years with the Vatican and a range of Protestant and Orthodox churches. He and his wife, Patsy, enjoyed a semester at The Lay Centre in 2018.