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  • Writer's pictureKeith Haney

Why does the Resurrection matter?

 



The risen Lord leave the tomb
The Resurrection of Jesus

 

  

Some chapters in the Bible have no rival for the level of importance they play.  John 3 is one.  In that chapter, we have what many have called the message of salvation. In John 3:16, "16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." Another critical chapter is 1 Corinthians 15. Paul defends the truth of the resurrection in this chapter.  Some in Corinth questioned the validity of Christ's rising from the dead.  So, Paul is now charged with dealing with the subject of the resurrection of the dead.  In doing so, Paul first lays the foundation for what he is going to say. His underlying defense is clear.  The resurrection of Jesus is the foundation of the gospel.    

 

Paul's argument has two essential elements. 

 

  1. If Jesus Christ did not rise, that casts doubt on the truth of God's word and His promises, primarily as we deal with death.   

 

As Vice President, George Bush represented the U.S. at the funeral of former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. Bush was deeply moved by a silent protest by Brezhnev's widow. She stood motionless by the coffin until seconds before it was closed. Then, just as the soldiers touched the lid, Brezhnev's wife performed an act of great courage and hope. This gesture must surely rank as one of the most profound acts of civil disobedience: She reached down and made the sign of the cross on her husband's chest. There, in the citadel of secular, atheistic power, the wife of the man who had run it all hoped that her husband was wrong. She hoped that there was another life that was best represented by Jesus, who died on the cross, and that the same Jesus might yet have mercy on her husband.  

Gary Thomas, Christian Times, October 3, 1994, p. 26. 

 

At the grave, the reality of the resurrection has its most incredible hold on us.  This widow felt the total weight of this truth as she said her final goodbyes.  What is behind the question of "Is the resurrection real?"  Do we have hope for those who have died and gone before us?  This is the profound theological dive Paul is answering in I Corinthians 15.  Without Jesus' resurrection, the witness of the apostles is both useless and false; for the believer, our faith is futile, and the entire world is lost because our sins are unforgiven.  As we say our final goodbyes, we must weep like everyone else because our Christian dead are lost.  And the cruelest trick is that we are all left without hope.  Christianity is a farce, and none of this matters if Christ has not risen from the dead.  Our lives, our faith, and our hope are garbage.   

 

Yet, in Jesus's words, He refutes the claims that the resurrection is made up by men to calm the masses.  Jesus tells Mary at the tomb of Lazarus that the family is dealing with unmeasurable grief.   25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?" John 11:25-26 


 2. The Resurrection is Real! 


Paul points out that the opposite is true and that the resurrection is true. To prove his point, Paul points out that this is not a new, fangled idea.  But that this was God's plan from the beginning.   

 

 20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.21 Since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead came through one too. 22 In the same way that everyone dies in Adam, so also everyone will be given life in Christ. 1 Corinthians: 20-22 

 

Our Lord Jesus Christ's resurrection is the pledge of that of believers and an essential part of God's plan to reverse the consequences of Adam's sin. The word at the beginning of 'now, at this very moment'! 

 

The world needed a savior.  We needed someone to take upon themselves the weight of sin and be our substitute.  Isaiah describes this so poetically. 

But he was pierced for our transgressions, 

he was crushed for our iniquities; 

the punishment that brought us peace was on him, 

and by his wounds, we are healed. 

6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, 

each of us has turned to our own way; 

and the Lord has laid on him 

the iniquity of us all. Isa. 53:5-6 

 

There is a Time for


A young girl weeping under a tree.
A time for weeping

 

A psychotherapist tells about one of her patients who had been taught not to cry. The patient said, "My intellect tells me it is healthy to cry, but I have been brought up to be ashamed of my own tears. I feel weak, out of control and unstable when others see me cry, and I sometimes give in to depression if I allow tears to come." 1 

 

That is a sad statement. But as a man, I have been guilty of buying into this philosophy and even, at times, teaching my boys that. When we live our lives like this, we hinder healing and help. We are meant to mourn. Without mourning, we can't reach joy.  

 

Charles Dickens was undoubtedly right when he had Mr. Bumble in Oliver Twist say this about crying: "It opens the lungs, washes the countenance, exercises the eyes, and softens the temper. So, cry away." 2 

 

You may experience pain that is greater than any joy you have experienced in the past. Know that one day, you will be comforted.  The pain will be replaced with rejoicing.   

 

The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica: "But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died."  1 Thessalonians 4:13-14.  Hope for us Christians is grounded on the belief in the resurrection.  This is why the resurrection matters. Mourning, like the widow in the earlier illustration, can only be replaced by hope if the person dies, dies in the Lord, with their eyes looking forward toward the resurrection of all flesh.  

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