People always want more power:
Tim “the Tool Man” Taylor would ask his Tool Time studio audience, “Men, if we want a job done quick, and we want it done right, what do we need?” They’d answer loudly in unison, “More power!” He’d then use a tool so powerful it destroyed the project, or blew-up in his face.
In almost every episode of the original Star Trek, Captain Kirk would call down to Scotty and demand “More power!”
In The Matrix Reloaded, Neo asks the Oracle, “What does he want?” The answer: “He wants what all men want. More power!”
The great apostle Paul wanted to “know Jesus and the power of His resurrection.”
He already knew the Lord; he was already saved when he wrote those words. He’d been saved for at least twenty years. He must have meant something else by “know.”
Scholars tell us the the word translated “know” is to know by experience. Paul was talking about experiencing the power of the resurrection in his daily life.
If Paul experienced, but also longed to go on experiencing, the power of the resurrection in his life – so can, and so should, every believer.
What does it mean, and what does it matter, to experience the power of the resurrection?
One way to approach answering that question is to see how Paul did experience the power of the resurrection. There are a lot of them.
We can start on the road to Damascus. First introduced to us as Saul attending the stoning of Stephen, he would go on to be a vicious persecutor of the early believers.
He’d imprison them; murder them. Picking up his story in the Book of Acts, we read,
Act 9:1 Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest
Act 9:2 and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
Act 9:3 As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven.
Act 9:4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
Act 9:5 And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”
Act 9:6 So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
The resurrected Lord saved Saul. It may seem obvious, but the power of the resurrection is to save. In First Corinthians 15:17-20 we read,
1Co 15:17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!
1Co 15:18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
1Co 15:19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.
1Co 15:20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
The forgiveness of sins, and the guarantee of eternal life, are dependent upon Jesus having risen from the dead in a glorified physical body.
Do you “know” Jesus? Think of it this way: We all “know” famous people. I follow on Instagram DisneyCelebrities; they post photos of celebs in the park.
Whenever we are in the park, we are on the look-out for celebs. A year or two ago, Geno pointed-out Dee Snyder in Toon Town.
I “know” who he is. But I don’t really “know” him personally.
How do you “know” Jesus? You have your own Damascus Road encounter. Maybe not as dramatic; maybe more. But it must be personal, intimate.
Paul went on in his life to have a lot of further experience with the power of the resurrection. One night, at midnight, he and his companion, Silas, found themselves falsely accused, wrongfully imprisoned, locked in painful stocks in a dark, dank dungeon.
Act 16:25 But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.
Act 16:26 Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.
Act 16:27 And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself.
Act 16:28 But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.”
Act 16:29 Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas.
Act 16:30 And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
Act 16:31 So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
Act 16:32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.
Act 16:33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized.
Act 16:34 Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.
The power of the resurrection permeates that episode:
Without it, Paul and Silas would not be saved to preach the gospel.
Without it, no one could be saved by believing the Gospel.
Without it, there’d be no miracle-at-midnight earthquake.
The power of His resurrection certainly accounts for the joy that Paul and Silas expressed regardless their dire situation.
As a first century apostle, Paul experienced the power of the resurrection to be able to heal certain people, or to cast out of them demons. In one somewhat odd episode, we read,
Act 19:11 Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul,
Act 19:12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them.
God can, and He does, heal. It bothers me as much as anyone that God so infrequently chooses to heal – at least here in the West – in this dispensation of the Church Age. It hurts to see loved ones suffer and die.
I’ve been, for lack of a better word, harping on the problem of pain for some time now. It was the Holy Spirit readying us for the onslaught of diseases and deaths that so many among us have been experiencing.
It’s not just us who struggle with suffering. I believe it to be the chief obstacle we need to overcome in sharing with nonbelievers. At the heart of their reluctance to receive the Lord is their argument that an all-powerful God of love would do something to alleviate or end human suffering.
Of course, He has done everything. He has died in our place for it. His plan is to end it. You can read all about it in the last book of the Bible.
Theologically, our answer to the problem of pain prior to the end is one potent word: Longsuffering. God is longsuffering, allowing sin to continue, and because of it suffering, because He isn’t willing anyone perish eternally.
Where does that leave us? I think it’s obvious that the teaching of the New Testament is that the power of the resurrection is as evident, perhaps more evident, in its empowering to endure suffering.
Paul’s own handkerchiefs and aprons, that healed others, could not heal him:
2Co 12:7 … a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.
2Co 12:8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.
2Co 12:9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
2Co 12:10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
I, for one, am glad that this servant who was used to occasionally heal others, was himself un-healed. Think of the modern so-called ‘faith-teachers,’ who claim perfect health and extreme wealth as the norm for you. None of them have ever healed anyone.
Paul essentially said that while healing would have been great, God’s grace to endure his thorn in the flesh was even greater.
Paul said, “that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection.” The next words in that verse are, “and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death…”
Here me on this: It may take a while for you to experience the power of the resurrection in these dark moments.
Did you ever wonder why Paul mentioned, concerning the thorn in his flesh, that he prayed three times? One thing it tells us is that it took him a while to experience the power of the resurrection to trust in the sufficiency of God’s grace. But once he did, he rejoiced.
In the eighth chapter of Romans, Paul said, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). It alludes to the next experience we will talk about: the power of Jesus’s resurrection is the hope that we, too, will be raised from the dead.
The power of His resurrection proves that all those who believe, and have believed, will themselves be resurrected. We will have a perfect, glorious resurrection body, like the one Jesus has and will have for eternity.
Jesus is called the firstfruits of many brethren. His bodily resurrection from the dead was the first time a dead man rose in a glorified, heavenly body. But it won’t be the last time. All of the righteous – all believers – from all of human history will, in stages, be raised in a great harvest.
On a more intimate note: The resurrection guarantees that you will be united with your deceased believing loved ones in Heaven.
There is so much more we could discuss:
The power of His resurrection gives us the ability to obey the Lord.
To keep the Law of Love.
To experience victory over the sins of the flesh.
More power? It is yours to discover and to experience.
Let me return to an earlier point, then we will close.
Around town, you might spot Steve Perry. You “know” who he is. Since he is local, some people “know” him personally.
In which sense do you “know” Jesus? If it isn’t in a personal relationship, you need to come to the Cross where the Lord died in your place, for your sins, confess, and repent, and receive Him.
Jesus literally rose from the dead physically. Without the risen Savior, there is no Christian faith. As Paul said elsewhere, “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (First Corinthians 15:14).