Christians believe that Jesus rose from the dead, but many don’t know why it matters. Jesus died for our sins on the cross so we could go to heaven. Isn’t that enough? Does the resurrection really add anything to our faith? If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, our sins would still be forgiven, right?
I want you to imagine with me a world where Jesus did not rise from the dead. Jesus is arrested and the disciples scatter. Peter denies Jesus. All the disciples hide because they are afraid they will be arrested and killed next. On Sunday, three women with spices to anoint Jesus’ body approach the tomb and find it closed. The guards turn them away. They go back to the disciples and tell them they couldn’t get in. The disciples stay hidden. There is no Pentecost. Peter did not preach. He went fishing. Three thousand people don’t hear that Jesus conquered sin and death. Eventually, people forget about Jesus and the disciples return quietly to their former lives. Some of them move to distant cities to get away from the Jewish authorities who killed Jesus. The End.
Or maybe the disciples eventually tell people quietly that Jesus died for our sins. They can’t prove it but they feel like it is true. Some people believe and the church grows slowly. Two thousand years later Christians believe that Jesus died for their sins so they could go to heaven. They say that Jesus was a prophet and a good man. Some say he was God. But other say, “That is ridiculous. You worship a dead man. How can a dead man be God?” What happens to Christians after death? Jesus’ body is still in the ground. It decayed and turned into dust just like everyone else. Where is Jesus’ spirit now? Somewhere else? Nowhere? Christians think their sins are forgiven but many are not sure. Did Jesus really have victory on the cross? If he did, why did he still die? Will those who believe in Jesus die like Jesus? Jesus said, “I am going to prepare a place for you, and where I am, you will be too.” (John 14:3?) But where is that place? Heaven? Hell? In the ground? Where?
If there was no resurrection, could the Christian faith survive? Without the resurrection, could Christians have joy and confidence in God? Without the resurrection, the Christian faith is dead. Because of the resurrection, we have hope. Death is not the end. It is only the beginning. Because Jesus rose from the dead, we can be confident that he was victorious at cross. Because Jesus rose from the dead, we know that everything He said is true. He confirmed his words and promises with his resurrection. We do not need to fear death. We do not need to fear the future. Our future is secure because of the power of an indestructible life. Because we know the end, we can face the present and press on in the way of the cross. We know that our sins are forgiven and heaven awaits because Jesus confirmed his promise of salvation through his resurrection. We have new life because of His new life.
The resurrection is not an optional extra to the Christian faith, but absolutely essential to our joy and confidence in the finished work of Christ. His resurrection gives us the hope and certainty that we need to persevere in following Jesus when the world says we are fools. Without the resurrection, there would be no Christianity, and there would be no Christians. There would only be fear and uncertainty.
But praise be to God that Christ has risen from the grave for us and for our joy. Because of the resurrection of Christ, we can say with the apostle Paul, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:54-55). Christ is Risen Today. Let us rejoice for He is Risen indeed.
"We go and return, sleep then awake, there must be resurrection, there is surely escape... through Christ"