Millions of Christians will celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ today—often referred to as Easter. Although this event is not emphasized enough by many in the church, it is the single most important event, not just in church history, but in all of human history.
When people think of Jesus, they think of a little baby in a manger, or the battered Savior on the Cross. Of course, the virgin birth and sacrificial, substitutionary death of Christ at Calvary are of extreme importance, but without the Resurrection, everything would be for naught.
Just how vital is the Resurrection to Christianity? The Apostle Paul wrote:
And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. (1 Corinthians 15:14–19)
Earlier in this same chapter, Paul told the Corinthians the gospel message he preached: “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3–4).
Without the Resurrection, not only would our preaching and faith be empty and futile, but we would still be in our sins! Without the Resurrection, Christ’s death could not have redeemed us from our sins, and we would all be destined for an eternity in the lake of fire. Without the Resurrection, Christ’s early followers would never have turned this world upside down by boldly preaching the gospel wherever they went, and the church would not exist.
The Resurrection is central to the gospel message. Paul wrote, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). Acts 2 tells us that on the day the church began, Peter preached before thousands of Jews and informed them that they had just crucified their Messiah. He then spent several verses explaining that God had raised Jesus from the dead (Acts 2:24–32).
I think an appropriate way to conclude this post would be to quote the wonderful statement from historian Philip Schaff when he discussed the importance of the Resurrection.
The Christian church rests on the resurrection of its Founder. Without this fact the church could never have been born, or if born, it would soon have died a natural death. The miracle of the resurrection and the existence of Christianity are so closely connected that they must stand or fall together. If Christ was raised from the dead, then all his other miracles are sure, and our faith is impregnable; if he was not raised, he died in vain and our faith is vain. It was only his resurrection that made his death available for our atonement, justification and salvation; without the resurrection, his death would be the grave of our hopes; we should be still unredeemed and under the power of our sins. A gospel of a dead Saviour would be a contradiction and wretched delusion. This is the reasoning of St. Paul, and its force is irresistible.
The resurrection of Christ is therefore emphatically a test question upon which depends the truth or falsehood of the Christian religion. It is either the greatest miracle or the greatest delusion which history records. (Philip Schaff and David Schley Schaff, History of the Christian Church)
Schaff is correct. The Resurrection is of supreme importance, and it is the greatest miracle that history records. In 2000 years, no credible theory has ever been proposed to explain away the fact that Jesus rose from the dead. Skeptics and critics have launched assault after assault to explain away the obvious, but even their best attempts are plagued with problems, contradictions, and fail to explain the evidence.
The fact is that Jesus died for our sins according to the Scriptures. Many people witnessed His death, and most of His own disciples were hiding in fear. But a few days later, the tomb was empty, and Jesus made several appearances to His followers, including one in which over 500 people saw Him alive (1 Corinthians 15:6). Listen to a message I gave a few years back on the proofs of the Resurrection and the empty claims of the critics.
As you reflect on what Christ has done for you by dying on the Cross in your place and rising from the dead, praise God for His incredibly gracious offer of eternal life. Knowing that He has risen, why should we be any less bold than His earliest followers who boldly proclaimed the truth, even though it cost most of them their lives.