Tragically today however, the resurrection often gets a backseat, it gets presented almost as an after-thought, or worse still it is ignored entirely. Countless polls even indicate that many who consider themselves to be "born-again" Christians do not actually believe in the physical bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
But the resurrection is more than an after thought, it's more than a secondary issue. The whole of the Christian faith is hinged upon it!
The Resurrection is the Central Truth of the Gospel!
In 1 Corinthians 15:1-5, the Apostle Paul includes the resurrection as one of two essential truths of the gospel message.
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
Furthermore, a review of the preaching of the apostles in the book of Acts shows that the resurrection was not just a vital element, but was usually the emphasis of each message. This is not surprising, for only a living Jesus can save mankind from the penalty and power of sin.
The Resurrection is the Central Truth of Christianity!
The resurrection is essential to the gospel message because it is the central truth of the Christian faith. In 1 Corinthians 15:14-19 Paul emphasizes:
If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
The Resurrection provides a Basis for Justification!
The provision for justification was made when Jesus Christ died on the cross. By paying the penalty for our sin, He provided forgiveness for sinners. Thus, God can justly declare the one who repents righteous on the basis of his or her faith in Christ.
Romans 4:25 specifically speaks of the resurrection as being for the purpose of our justification. The death of Jesus was necessary to make payment for our sins, and according to this verse, His resurrection was necessary for our justification. In the resurrection God’s demonstrated that He has accepted Jesus’ death as full payment for sin, therefore we can confidently place our trust in that sacrifice and be justified by God.
The Resurrection provides the Basis for the New Life of a Believer!
The basis for our new life in Christ is laid through the resurrection in 2 primary ways:
1. Jesus’ resurrection and ascension make Him the new authority over the believer (see Ephesians 1:20-22). The authority of sin which used to bind us in broken, and our rightful authority is Christ.
2. The believer participates in Jesus’ resurrection by faith (Romans 6:1-11). God, by our faith considers us to have died and rise again with Christ. His death removes us from the realm of sin, and His resurrection places us into the realm of righteousness. This incredible truth is to impact our daily lives and every action and decision (Rom 6:11).
The Resurrection of Jesus Guarantees the Resurrection of All Believers!
As we have already seen, Paul argues in 1 Corinthians 15 that apart from the promise that all believers will experience the same kind of resurrection as Jesus did (literal and physical) the resurrection has no meaning.
A few verses further on in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul states in verses 20-22,
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
The idea that Jesus is the first fruit is an agricultural picture of first or early harvest that points to the certainty and quality of the rest of the harvest that is to follow.
The resurrection of all believers will come at the return of Christ:
1 Corinthians 15:50-58
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
The Resurrection proves the Deity of Christ!
Jesus demonstrated His deity in the miracles that He performed, in His authoritative teaching and in His display of knowledge. However, none of these would be remembered today if death had defeated Him. Therefore Paul could say in Romans 1:4:
…[He]was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord…
The resurrection was the ultimate demonstration of the deity of Jesus!
This Easter we proclaim that Christ has died, Christ has risen and Christ will come again! This essential truth is worth celebrating!