The Significance of the Resurrection


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I have written about the central importance of the resurrection of Jesus many times, but I come back to it again. Nothing could be more important. Of this Paul, was crystal clear in his writing.

If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain;

If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins;

If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are evolved people most to be pitied;

If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die”;

What you sow does not come to life until you die.

These are all statements made by Paul in his first letter to the people in Corinth.[1] These statements underscore and highlight the importance of the resurrection in Christian thought.

Jesus is the center of the Christian faith, and the gospel is at the center of Christianity and the resurrection is at the center of the Gospel. If Jesus was not raised from the dead, everything falls apart. The claims of Christianity are bankrupt because they rise or fall on this one point.

If Jesus was raised from the dead, Jesus is who he said he was and no other event in human history is more significant; no  religion or philosophy lays a claim to hope in the present and the future like words of Jesus. Jesus truly is the “light of men”[2] and the “bread of life”[3].

The resurrection is an historical claim, the claim of a momentous event that occurred in history. It is the centerpiece of all of scripture, and, if it is believe, it is the centerpiece of human history; it is the centerpiece of God’s creation and God’s purpose.

From the very beginning in Genesis sweeping to the very end in Revelations, the resurrection is the pivotal moment in God’s purposeful activity in the world. As the first humans brought corruption into the world by exercising the one choice that was forbidden, Jesus opened the door through which perfection can be obtained by exercising the one choice that was effective for that purpose. He gave his life that we might live, and he was raised from the dead to show us that this life is found in him.

We are told this was God’s plan from all eternity. That he gave us choice, a choice we could exercise leading to corruption, necessitated that he make his choice, a choice he would exercise allowing us to enter into perfection.

None of this makes any sense outside of the context of eternal life. This futile, suffering, pain-filled life would be a cruel joke but for eternity. In Scripture, we find that this life is a launching pad for perfection in eternity.

If the dead are not raised, however, let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die. There is no hope. This world is it; it’s all there is. This was the stark realization of the writer of Ecclesiastes where those words come from.

There is no hope, no expectation beyond this life, no purpose or reason to live, but for momentary pleasure, if not for Jesus, and if not for his resurrection from the dead. Those austere words look forward to and set the stage for Jesus, as do all the words of the Old Testament. They all find their fulfillment and resolution in Christ.

In dying, Jesus showed us the way to eternal life, perfection and relationship with God the father is through death. In rising from the dead, Jesus showed us the hope of glory that awaits us. In hope, God subjected the universe to futility.[4] The hope is that we would find our way to the choice that ends corruption, ends death, and the sin that leads to corruption and death – that we would accept the living sacrifice of God in the form of humanity and submit to him as the risen Lord who saves us for His eternal purpose.

Just as all mankind went astray in Adam, we all have the path laid out before us to enter back into the fold. Adam, having exercised the one choice that led to corruption, could only produce corrupted offspring. Just as a person cannot pass on greater title then that person has obtained, Adam and Eve could only give birth two offspring having the same corrupt DNA.

In the same way, Jesus, who is all in all, through whom the world and everything in it was made, including us, who has greater title then Adam, has opened the way for another choice. Through Jesus, we choose God the Father, we choose perfection, we choose to die to our sin and be born again, born from above, born from the spirit and not of this corrupt flesh.

Jesus said, “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but spirit gives birth to spirit.”[5] Paul echoed those words in his first letter to the Corinthians when he says, “[F]lesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. ….. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.”[6]

Jesus said, “[U]nless a seed falls into the ground and dies, it will only be a seed.”[7] Paul alludes to these words when he told the Corinthians, “What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain.”[8] When it dies, only then can it become its true potentiality, growing from seed into a strong plant.

If we only live in this life for a short hundred years or less, if there is no resurrection from the dead, we are truly to be pitied of all people, having no hope of eternal life. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, we should eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.

But we have good reason to believe that Jesus did rise from the dead. We have a host of witnesses who went before us, people who walked the dusty roads with him, people who put their fingers in his side, and people who went to their own deaths telling the world of the hope that is in Jesus.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

[1] 1 Corinthians 15:14; 1 Cor. 15:17; 1 Cor. 15:19; 1 Cor. 15:32; 1 Cor. 15:36

[2] John 1:4 (“In him was life, and the life was the light of men.”)

[3] John 6:35 (“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.’”)

[4] Romans 8:20-21 (“For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.”)

[5] John 3:6

[6] I Corinthians 15:50

[7] John 12:24 (NLV)

[8] 1 Corinthians 15:36-37

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