Author: Jon Slenker
“And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins…” 1 Cor. 15:17
Scripture is clear that one can believe Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ incarnate, that his death was a substitute for sin, and that he was buried, but if one denies the resurrection, salvation is lost. The new life Jesus modeled to the hundreds of followers, family and friends is a real-life depiction of God’s missional heart.
The resurrection and the entirety of the person and work of Christ only holds weight if Easter was an actual historical event. Without the resurrection, Jesus becomes yet another character in the parade of prophets, good men or goons. In fact, if the resurrection was merely farce, hallucinations or the deceptive work of his followers or captors, Jesus’ birth, life and teachings, and divine claims fall amidst that crumbling foundation. Worse yet, Jesus’ death on a cursed tree was in vain and we are, more than all men, to be pitied. Put another way, Jesus’ resurrection validates all his words and works that precede it.
If the resurrection is true, then Jesus’ claims are true. Jesus claimed repeatedly in very Hebraic ways, that he was in fact YHWH and Savior, One with the Father, and that “no man comes to the Father but through him” (John 14:6). If Jesus’ resurrection affirms his divine nature and claims, it must also affirm his immaculate conception, sinless life, teachings and mission. Everything Jesus of Nazareth did in the flesh was thus done by God for his divine cosmic purpose through and for whom we and all things exist (1 Cor. 8:6). He must be the Messiah of the Jewish Scriptures completing the work God began and promised long ago (Gen. 3:15; Phil. 1:6).
The Resurrection is Central to God’s Mission
This work of God is known as the Missio Dei; God, on-mission to reconcile his people to himself, by providing salvation through the promised spotless lamb who would crush the head of the serpent once and for all, bruising his heel (Gen. 3:15). The resurrection is only necessary if salvation is. The bright and colorful Easter is only understood in light of its gloomy backdrop. God created man to exist and thrive in perfect harmony and community with Him, one another, and all of creation. Is the contrary not bemoaned in all of history and humanity to this day? For man’s sin separated himself from a holy God. Man’s state is now one of a renter, constantly coming up short to pay off his landlord called Death. Rent was due at birth. Our notice explains we are a slave to our landlord, destined for eternal damnation, separation from God and all that is right and good forever, for we have only a propensity to self and sin. Popular historical pastor Charles Spurgeon said in effect that we may only understand how good the good news is once we see the tragic reality of a dark and twisted bad news.
Jesus of Nazareth must have come to enter this world as the Creator, Cosmic King and Christ incarnate. He was born of the Spirit, lived a sinless life, died on the cross in our place, and rose again defeating death. Jesus reconciles us to God, restores our community and right relationship with God. Christs’ resurrection pays not only past due rent. Moreover, he is the “Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades (Rev. 1:18). It moves man from a depraved hut to his Father’s mansion where Jesus has prepared a place for him. Faith in this Christ and his resurrection is necessary for the validation of Jesus’ life and missional work of reconciling prodigals to their Father.
What the Resurrection Means Today
The Resurrection is way more than a miraculous display of God’s limitless power. It carries with it very tangible implications and promises. If the resurrection of Jesus did not happen, we would not be born again. Peter begins his letter to the Church reminding them of the great joy and hope they have in God through the resurrection, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” (1 Peter 1:3). Not only are we “born again” in spirit, we are promised new resurrected life with new heavenly bodies. The hope of the Christian is that we will be able to commune with our Father, Savior and the Holy Spirit in perfect unity and peace forever.
Jesus’ Power to Raise from the Dead
Jesus is recorded raising three people from the dead before he himself was resurrected. The widow’s son of Nain in Luke 7, Jairus’s daughter in Luke 8, and Lazarus in John 11. The Lord visited Mary and Martha when his good friend Lazarus died. Jesus had performed many healings and miracles, but bringing multiple people back to life seems to outrank them all. That is until his resurrection, providing proof of a restored, resurrected and heavenly body (1 Corinthians 15:35-58). Eternity with God is only accessible through faith in what has already been accomplished. Jesus is the way, the truth, the life, the resurrection and the hope (John 14:6; John 11:25).