That I may know…the power of his resurrection–Phi 3:10
The Fact Versus the Power
Of the fact of the resurrection, Paul had not a shadow of a doubt. It was one of his indubitable certainties. He himself had had a revelation of the Lord which had altered the whole tenor of his life. He had known and conversed with those who saw Him in the days that followed upon Easter morning. Whatever might be doubtful to his intellect or might remain a matter of conjecture, his life, both of experience and thought, was based upon the fact that Christ was risen. But the power of a fact is to be distinguished from the fact itself. The power is the influence it exercises in its various relationships to life. And so the power of the resurrection is not the power that raised Christ from the dead, but the increasing pressure upon life of the stupendous fact that Christ is risen. To penetrate more fully into this, to grasp it in its infinite significance, that was the ambition of St. Paul as he made his lonely way among the mysteries. Like some bright star the fact was always shining. It was unalterable and unsetting. His passion was to know the power of the fact.
One thinks, for instance, of its evidencing power. The resurrection was the seal of heaven. In it the stupendous claims of Jesus were guaranteed and ratified of God. The dark hours when He lay buried were to the disciples hours of anguish. They could not reconcile that last indignity with the magnificence of His spiritual program. It must have seemed to them, and seemed to everybody, as if all that they had shared in was a dream now quenched forever by the grave. The fact of death extinguished all their hopes. It invalidated every claim of Jesus. It brought down into a hopeless ruin the building they had thought to be of God. And the first great power of the resurrection, its primary influence upon thought and life, was the power to scatter the agonizing doubts that filled the breasts of those who trusted Him. It gave beauty for ashes and the oil of joy for mourning. It guaranteed the Messiahship of Jesus. It flooded with the authority of heaven the vocation of their blessed Lord. That was why, in the earliest Christian preaching, there was such impassioned and unswerving emphasis on the resurrection of the Savior. It was not an isolated fact. Isolated facts are quite inoperative. It was a fact fraught with a tremendous influence on the whole concept of the Lord. Every word He spoke and every claim He made was charged with new and heavenly significance under the power of the resurrection.
The Resurrection Provided the Intimacy of a Living Friend
Or one thinks again of its sustaining power amid the tasks and burdens of mortality. It gave to men, wherever they might wander, the near presence of a living Friend. The soul thirsts for a living God, and the heart thirsts for a living friend–for one who knows and understands and loves in the intimacy of a present fellowship. And the power of the resurrection is that it answers that steady yearning of the heart in a way no memories can ever do. It gives us a Friend who is alive, closer than breathing, nearer than hands or feet. It confronts our lives not with the storied past, but with One who lives and loves us to the uttermost. And the best of all is that this living Friend has sounded all the depths of human life and has “come smiling from the world’s great snare uncaught.” What the law could never do for Paul was done victoriously by the risen Savior. In fellowship with Him he triumphed, and when he was weak then he was strong. His one passion was to know more fully the resources of that living Friend. That was the power of His resurrection.
The Resurrection Provided for Paul a Pull for Things Above
Or one thinks of its exalting power which was never absent from the apostle’s thought. The spiritual power of the resurrection is its steady upward pull upon the life. When one is climbing in our Scottish highlands, there are often places perilous to negotiate. In such places it is a mighty succor when someone above reaches down a helping hand. And the mystical thought that Christ was gripping him from the upper security of heavenly places turned the apostle into a daring climber on the steeps that lead to God. Christ was above him–He was risen. He was stooping down to lift the climber up. Paul felt the urge of the true mountaineer which lies in seeking the things which are above. But for him there was the splendid certainty that he was not going to perish for before him and above him there was Christ. In union with Him there was an upward pull. Paul turned his back upon the lower things. Just because Christ was risen and above him, he must gain in Christ the heights of holy living. Had you asked the apostle, I think he would have answered that that was the dominant thought within his breast when he wrote of the power of His resurrection.