The end of the Gospel of John, like the end of the other three Gospels, contains the account of the foretold resurrection of Jesus Christ and the giving of the Great Commission to preach repentance from sin and faith in Him to all the world. It’s the end, but really the beginning, of the story we’ve heard each year at Easter. As we move forward in our Christian walk, the concept of the resurrection can have a tendency to become all too common to us and we can lose the vital importance of its meaning to our faith. That importance is simply this – without the resurrection, we would have nothing to have faith in! For that small band of downcast apostles, their faith truly began at the resurrection. John describes his own coming to faith when he tells us about his entering the empty tomb, “Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed” (John 20:8). We also get the well known story of “Doubting Thomas'” arrival of faith as John describes what happened when Thomas was finally confronted with the risen Christ, “Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!'” (John 20:27-28). The resurrection was clearly responsible for the faith in Christ that these two gained as well as the other nine apostles, the Mary’s and at least 500 other witnesses. Without it, they would never have had the reason to go on to initiate the Great Commission, but because of it we have forgiveness of sins, salvation, reconciliation and spiritual life now and for eternity.
As we leave the Gospels and move on to the Book of Acts, we pick up with “Part 2” of Dr. Luke’s account of the life of Christ and the start of His Church. Luke provides us with a very nice segue from his Gospel account to the account of the early Church as he picks up Acts where he left off his Gospel with the ascension of Christ. Immediately after being anointed by the Holy Spirit, Peter goes right into preaching his Pentecost sermon which quickly moves to a Gospel presentation including the resurrection. It was key to the apostles’ coming to faith and they knew it would be no less important to help bring others to faith in Christ. Moving forward into the third and fourth chapters of Acts, the resurrection is mentioned another four times. The resurrection of Christ is as inextricably tied to the accounts of the growth of the early church as it is to our own faith. For over 2,000 years believers have allowed themselves to be maligned, beaten, imprisoned and martyred for their faith in Christ. Only one reason explains why all these saints have been so willing to sacrifice so much – they encountered the risen Christ and were, and continue to be, ready to explain the reason for the hope that they have. If it’s been a while, revisit the resurrection and let your faith be renewed and strengthened.