It can probably be agreed that there is no historical figure who has had such an impact on world history as Jesus Christ. With a public ministry that spanned for only three years (which includes His death, burial, and resurrection), Christ inspired righteous living in millions in the following 2,000 years since His time on earth.
His teachings became the foundation of movements that fought for human dignity, protection of children, just treatment of women, slavery abolition, care for the sick, orphans, and poor, and liberty and freedom in many nations. There have been more messages and books written about Jesus than any other historical person. Graduate schools that base educational doctorates on Jesus’ life, teachings, and ministry.
All of this would not have came to pass unless it were for one crucial event: the resurrection. If Jesus had not risen from the dead, then there would be no Christianity.
The resurrection of the dead is a strange concept to many today. With so many naturalistic influences that dominate the mindset of Americans, it’s easy to disbelieve in the resurrection. Once people are dead, they stay dead. This is similar to the philosophical outlook of the Epicureans in Acts 17:16-34, a philosophical outlook which denied the resurrection of dead creatures.
However, the church cannot ignore the resurrection. It is foundational to the Christian faith. We must not fall into the same trap because the life of the church and the eternal salvation of believers depend on it. When we celebrate Easter this year, we must renew our confidence in the cross and reflect on the important implications of the resurrection for our lives and for the entirety of history to come.
Here are 5 crucial reasons why the resurrection is important:
1. The resurrection affirms the Bible’s accuracy. Jesus taught that the Bible is God’s word and that it would be providentially preserved until all of its words are fulfilled (Matthew 5:17-18). This includes the many prophecies in the Old Testament that speak of a Messiah (Savior) who would come to atone for the sins of humanity and to bring peace, justice, and truth to the world. Many of these prophecies were fulfilled in Jesus’ first coming, including His birthplace, His arrival into Jerusalem on a donkey, His death, and His resurrection.
It is common today to hear the Bible being attacked by everyone from atheists to liberal “Christians.” They make a sport out of challenging the Bible’s inerrancy and infallibility. When Jesus rose from the grave, it was universal confirmation that God’s word is inspired, supernatural, and authoritative. The resurrection highlighted God’s faithfulness to bring a Savior into the world, as well as our duty to heed Scripture, since it contains the only message by which we can be saved and accepted by God.
2. The resurrection affirms a final judgment. Jesus (as did the apostles) spoke often about the final judgment of humanity. All people are guilty of breaking God’s law and incurring an eternal debt for which they will stand accountable for when they die. Those who die in their sins spend an eternity in hell (John 3:18; 5:28-29; Revelation 20:11-15). The resurrection is God’s sign that there is a coming day of reckoning, and that God has given His Son all authority to judge the world in righteousness (Acts 17:31).
The world has many theories after what happens when people die: They get reincarnated. They go out of existence. They become one with the world. The resurrection truth shatters these dangerous misconceptions. That is why we need to get right with the Lord in this life, especially when a real offer of salvation is actually available to sinners who have access to it.
3. The resurrection affirms Jesus’ unique identity. Many times Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. He was not only fully human, but fully God (Matthew 3:17; John 10:30). This is why Jesus was the only qualified human being to go the cross to die as a substitute for the sins of humanity. Jesus’ deity is also the reason why people are called to give worship onto Him, as one would worship Yahweh. Those who fail to worship Christ – the second person of the Triune God – fail to give glory and honor to God.
Jesus’ identity as a human had often been attacked in the 1st and 2nd century by Gnostics. These days His divine nature is attacked by skeptics of all backgrounds: atheists, agnostics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Muslims, Orthodox Jews. The divine nature of Jesus is central to worship and to being reconciled to God. Those who deny the Son also deny the Father (Matthew 10:33; 1 John 2:23). The resurrection is proof to the world that Jesus is truly as He says He is: God in human flesh.
4. The resurrection affirms the believer’s salvation. Jesus promised that those who believed in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior have their sins entirely forgiven. Hebrews 9:22 says that “without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins.” Someone has to die in our stead, since sin calls for our death. It is a debt that no other life form (such as a rat, a pig, or donkey) could pay. That human substitute was Jesus Christ — the perfect human being. He lived a sinless life in order to fulfill the demands of God’s Law. He was the unblemished lamb who was our substitute (1 Peter 1:18-19). The resurrection was God’s receipt that the payment went through to cover our eternal sin debt to God. There was no decline on the charge! The resurrection proves that the sacrifice was pure and acceptable.
Salvation by God’s grace through faith is a unique philosophy known only to Christians. Other world religions teach salvation based on one’s own works and morality. The resurrection is God’s miracle to show that all believers are justified by Christ’s shed blood at Calvary (Romans 4:25). Jesus’ resurrected body is the prototype of the bodies that believers will receive in the future. For if Christ had not resurrected in glory, then we should have no confidence that we will resurrect in the same glory as well (1 Corinthians 15:16).
5. The resurrection affirms the believer’s mission. Jesus commands Christians to participate in the Great Commission. Evangelism and discipleship is the mission of the church (Matthew 28:18-20). That is the standard by which all believers will be measured when standing before the judgment seat to receive their final rewards (2 Corinthians 5:10). The resurrection gives us confidence that we do not work in vain. Jesus has called us to be a light to the world. We can never have confidence that our message is valid and that our work is meaningful unless God gives us some sort of sign that we do not preach a false or ineffective message to non-Christians. The proof is the resurrection.
It’s easy to be tempted to live for fleeting pleasures. The world teaches us to live for money, fame, security, comfort, relationships, and entertainment. Without a God and without any hope of salvation, this way of thinking makes perfect sense. But the resurrection proves the existence and expectations of God, and what we are to be living for in this life if we are in Christ.
As you reflect on Easter this year, remember the impact of the resurrection. It is a lot more important than most of us realize. It is so spectacular that it is worth celebrating again and again.
Steve Cha is the teaching pastor of Grace City LA.