Where is the best text to preach about the resurrection? Not where you think it is.
I think the place to start is Revelation chapter 12. There John paints a picture for us of a woman in labour. She is crowned with the sun, moon and stars. The woman represents the covenant line of the Messiah, just like in the dream Joseph had that got him into all that trouble.
She brings forth the child destined to rule the nations with a rod of iron. Genesis 3 and Psalm 2 show this is Jesus.
The dragon, the ancient serpent, is determined to devour the child the same way he did the first child. And this he tries to do. Yet at the moment of his apparent victory, the child is caught up to God and his throne. And that is the resurrection.
The woman (now representing all the faithful in Christ of both covenants) flees into the wilderness, the place of God’s protection. The dragon (the word used of Pharaoh in the Old Testament, and thus revealing the power behind Pharaoh) tries to stop her by sending a flood (a second Red Sea) but fails. The sea is swallowed, just as in the days of Moses, and the woman reaches safety. And there she dwells until she crosses into the new Promised Land (Revelation 21-22). And there you have the story line of Revelation, the second exodus.
But here is the part I like. Warfare is occurring in heaven (verses 7-12) at the same time as it is being fought on earth. Michael, the great warrior angel of Daniel 12, is fighting the battle in heaven as Christ is fighting it on earth.
At the very moment of Christ’s victory, the power of the accuser in heaven, the same one who gave Job such trouble, is broken by the blood shed on the cross, and he and his agents are thrown down to earth.
From the moment Satan is cast out of heaven – the moment of the resurrection, not some date in the far-off future – the voice from heaven proclaims, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down” (verse 10).
The outcome of this battle of the ages is determined by this one thing: the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The resurrection is the turning point of all human history. It represents the moment at which the power of the enemy was broken. Even though he may appear to have great power, his authority is now limited. God’s people may physically suffer or even be killed, but their ultimate victory is assured, as much as was Christ’s when he was dying on the cross. And in the midst of our battle on earth, we now have all the resources of heaven open to us, the same resources which hurled the enemy down to earth in the first place.
Often the church in our culture understands the saving work of Christ on the cross and the need to receive forgiveness and be born again, yet we do not appreciate the power of the resurrection. We have Good Friday without Easter Sunday. As Christians, we are placed into a battle in the seen world, but this battle will drag us down unless we tap into the power of the unseen world and claim it for ourselves. Why? Because we are ultimately fighting an enemy with access to supernatural power, albeit a lesser power than that of God. We are often like soldiers going into battle without weapons, or farmers going out to the fields without tractors. Faith releases the power of the resurrection into our lives. It releases the power of the unseen into the seen.
Every Sunday and every day for us is Easter, because Easter is the celebration of the resurrection. The resurrection is not only the historical foundation of our faith, it is the source of the power we need to fight our own battles against the dragon and his agents today. The battle may be fierce and casualties will occur, but victory is assured.
The Lamb who was slain has begun to reign – Hallelujah!