Whether or not Jesus rose from the dead is perhaps the most important question in determining the truth of Biblical Christianity. As Paul put it, “if Christ has not been raised from the dead…then your faith also is vain” (1 Cor 15:14). He adds that if Jesus hasn’t been resurrected, then “we are even found to be false witnesses against God, claiming that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise” (1 Cor 15:15). If Christ has not been raised, faith in Him would be worthless and powerless to deliver us from our sinfulness (1 Cor 15:17). Consequently, all who believe in Christ – incorrectly – would have simply perished with no real hope (1 Cor 15:18). Paul concludes this dark hypothetical scenario by lamenting that “If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied” (1 Cor 15:19).
This last statement is very interesting. While many hold to a form of Pascal’s Wager – the basic idea that it is better to believe and be right or wrong than to not believe and be right or wrong – Paul actually contradicts Pascal, suggesting that if we are wrong in our belief that Christ arose from the grave, that is not a good gamble, but rather we are blasphemers of God who should be pitied.
Paul hinges everything on the resurrection of Jesus Christ – and so did Jesus. In several contexts (e.g., Mt 12:40, 17:23,20:19, 26:32, Mk 14:28, Lk 9:22, Jn 2:19-21) Jesus predicted not only His own death, but that He would be resurrected – and that He Himself would do the resurrecting (Jn 2:19-21). The Gospel writers and many other witnesses confirmed that Jesus did in fact rise from the dead (1 Cor 15:1-8). Paul reminds us that Christ has indeed been raised from the dead (1 Cor 15:20), and Jesus Himself told His followers that He would one day come again (Jn 14:3, Rev 22:7).
The implications are huge. Jesus’ resurrection proved who He was (Rom 1:4) and that He was qualified to pay to the Father the price of our sin. A sinful person would have had to pay his own price, but Jesus was without sin, and His resurrection was a demonstration of that. Because He was qualified to pay the price in His own blood, He can say regarding anyone who believes in Him, “I Myself will raise Him up (Jn 6:40).
Because Jesus was raised from the dead, the believing one in Him has eternal life (Jn 6:47), and “just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall bear the image of the heavenly” (1 Cor 15:49). Because He lives, we can live. Because He lives, we have much to live for.
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord: (1 Cor 15:58).
Tags: Easter, resurrection, Jesus