Every once in awhile on the News they do a flashback to an important date or event in history and report on what happened and how this event may still affect us today. For instance the end of World War II or the first man on the moon.
I've seen many of these types of programs but despite all of my TV watching, the news or any other program for that matter, has ever featured the most significant, life-changing event in all the history of mankind - the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Oh yes, television is polite with the resurrection treating it as a religious festival - but never as a hard fact, never as history! Regardless of what the TV shows say, the resurrection of Jesus remains the single most volatile and important event of our age. More important than any war or political idea or movement or sports story, and it has been important to many people for a long time.
The Importance of the Resurrection
Before there was such a thing as TV or even "news" the resurrection was important. It was even important before it happened! For example:
1. It was important to the Old Testament prophets who spoke of Christ resurrection long before He appeared.
For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol;
Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.
- Psalms 16:10
It mattered to them because their hope of life after death rested on this event.
2. It was important to the Jewish leaders who centuries later, condemned and conspired to put Jesus to death on a cross.
62Now on the next day, the day after the preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together with Pilate, 63and said, "Sir, we remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said, 'After three days I am to rise again.' 64Therefore, give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, otherwise His disciples may come and steal Him away and say to the people, 'He has risen from the dead,' and the last deception will be worse than the first." 65Pilate said to them, "You have a guard; go, make it as secure as you know how." 66And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone.
- Matthew 27:62-66
They were afraid that the mere teaching of the doctrine of the resurrection (even one based on a lie) would destroy their religion.
3. It was important to the Apostles who gave up their lives in order to proclaim their eyewitness account of His resurrection - Acts 2:29-36. The Apostles saw in the resurrection the proof that His claims about being Lord and Christ were valid - it was what motivated them to face martyrdom without fear!
4. It was important to the Gentile (Non-Jew) who rejected Christianity for this very fact.
29Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. 30Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead."
32Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, "We shall hear you again concerning this."
- Acts 17:29-32
The Jews stumbled (stopped short of believing) at the fact that Jesus was crucified. They couldn't accept that their Messiah could be executed by pagans on a Roman cross. The Gentiles stumbled at the fact of the resurrection. Couldn't accept the possibility of life after death for a human being. This disbelief simply demonstrated that the idea of life after death was very important - even to those who didn't believe.
5. It was important to early Christians.
The early Christians were being challenged on this very point.
12Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; 14and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.
- I Corinthians 15:12-14
Paul tells them that their faith and hope rest squarely on the truth of this fact, and their persecution was caused by it. 2,000 plus years later, in the midst of all kinds of doctrines of re-incarnation (Hinduism, New Age, the Occult etc), the resurrection of Jesus still matters. It mattered to them and it matters to us because His resurrection accomplishes three unique things.
Why the Resurrection is Important
A. The Resurrection Establishes Jesus as the Divine Messiah.
Many say they believe in re-incarnation, even that they were alive in another form but Jesus claims to have returned as Himself. And this accomplishment entitles Him to be considered as Lord and Christ. This was the point of Peter's first sermon.
29"Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30And so, because he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants on his throne, 31he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay.
- Acts 2:29-31
Peter said that through the mouth of David the prophet, God promised that He would resurrect the Christ - that would be the sign.
This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses.
Peter claims that this prophecy has come true, he has seen it with his own eyes - the resurrection of Jesus.
33Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. 34For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: '
The Lord said to my Lord,
"Sit at My right hand,
35Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet."'
- Acts 2:33-35
Peter goes on to explain where he and the other Apostles have gotten the power to perform the miracles that they are doing - The resurrected Jesus has empowered them with the Holy Spirit in order to perform signs to confirm that their witness about the resurrection is true. If not Jesus, who then has given them power?
Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified."
- Acts 2:36
Peter assures them that by the sign of the resurrection, God has fulfilled the prophecy concerning the messiah and that Jesus is that Christ and Lord - the Divine Savior. It is by the resurrection that Jesus is confirmed as The Son of God.
B. The resurrection is important because it produces faith.
We can demonstrate that the Bible is an inspired book/revelation of God.
- Accuracy of prophecy
- Harmony of complex material
- Superiority of thought
But note that Jesus did not send His Apostles out to convince men according to the accuracy, harmony or superiority of the Scriptures, but rather by their personal eyewitness of the resurrection. You see, doubters and disbelievers are not persuaded by logical arguments about God's word but by God's power as seen in the resurrection.
Prophecy, accuracy of Scripture, superiority of thought may make you believe that the Bible is a special book but that in itself will not save you. Lots of people believe the Bible is special. It is the faith in Jesus as the Son of God, produced by the witness of the resurrection recorded in the Bible that saves a man from hell, not the belief that the Bible came from God. Without the resurrection, this is not possible.
C. The resurrection is important because it eliminates man's greatest fear - death.
From the fall of Adam, this has been man's greatest fear.
14Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.
- Hebrews 2:14-15
People give themselves over to this world, to sin, and are discouraged in the doing of what is good and right because they believe in death's final power. They think this is all that there is, so they might as well live it up!
I Corinthians 15:54-57 – Paul describes the final victory of the Christian, the victory over death made possible by the resurrection of Jesus. Some may ask, "How does Christ's resurrection destroy the fear of death for us?" Answer: The resurrection of Jesus demonstrates in a dramatic fashion that death is not final, that it can be overcome and that the one who defeated death can also give to others the same power.
John 6:39-40 – The great promise of the gospel is that for all of those who believe in Jesus Christ, personal resurrection from the dead will be a reality for them in the same way that it was a reality for Jesus Christ. Jesus won His victory over death on Calvary. The scene of our victory is in the water of Baptism - Romans 6:3-5.
God requires faith, but not blind faith! He promises us that there is a life after this life and he has provided the resurrection of Jesus Christ as the "once for all" proof that this is so.
So, the resurrection is important, the most important event because it establishes Jesus as divine, generates saving faith and provides us with hope for eternal life.
When I say, "I believe," what am I saying?
When you say you believe in the resurrection, what are you in fact saying?
1. The resurrection is historical, not allegorical.
Despite what TV says, you are saying the resurrection is a historical fact.
- Acts 4:8-10 – Before the Sanhedrin, facing punishment even death, the Apostles maintained that they saw Jesus resurrected from the dead - a fact.
- I Corinthians 15:3-8 – The early missionaries claimed to have seen the actual Jesus return from the dead - not a zombie or a hallucination, but a real person intact (ate, spoke, prayed, taught them).
When I say I believe Jesus rose from the dead, I repeat the witness of the Apostles that this was a historical event, not a vision or a dream.
2. He was the first of many resurrections.
I Corinthians 15:20-23 – The resurrection has significance for us only in the fact that it points to our own resurrection. Otherwise why would it give us joy or hope?
Jesus' resurrection is only a joyful thing for me because it is a preview of my own resurrection one day! He shows that it is possible. When I say that I believe that the resurrection of Jesus in the past is a fact of history, I am saying that I believe that my own resurrection in the future is also a fact. And a sure fact at that, because He who raised Jesus can and will also raise me! (Romans 8:11)
Every time I take communion therefore I express and confirm this belief. Every time I neglect this, I also ignore the opportunity to express my own hope. To deny Jesus' resurrection is to deny the possibility of our own. To say that His was just a vision, a ghost or a hallucination is to assign this same phenomena to our own.
We cannot attach a greater hope to our future resurrection than we grant to that of God's Son. His resurrection makes mine possible! Let's summarize what we've studied. The resurrection is the most important event in history and affects each one of us personally. Here's why:
- The resurrection is what separates Jesus from every other religious leader or prophet in history. None of them have claimed resurrection - only Jesus. Through the resurrection God has established Jesus as His only divine Son and Savior of the world. (Romans 1:4)
- The resurrection is the spark by which the flame of our faith is lit. Skeptics and doubters are not convinced by the love of God but rather by the power of God seen in the resurrection. I can believe what Jesus said and obey what He has commanded me to do because of this powerful and unmistakable sign.
- The resurrection of Jesus gives me real hope that I too will be resurrected one day. Prophets and astrologers and mystics can write all they want about the "other world". People can go on TV and talk about the "tunnel" or "white light" they have seen in their near death experiences. Only Jesus actually died and resurrected three days later to show me it is possible and promise the same for me one day. Jesus has the ability to promise me this thing because He has the power over life and death and His resurrection is the unmistakable proof (John 10:17-18).
Our greatest problem however is not that we don't know about the resurrection of Jesus. Our problem is that we don't stake our entire lives on this fact. If we did:
- We would be more eager to tell others about this fantastic thing – an experience that they could also have.
- We would start living like people who were going to live forever:
Forgetting petty quarrels, worldly worries. Give up simple habits and people. Be more careful with our salvation and the salvation of our children and friends (not take chances). We would not put off until tomorrow the baptism, repentance or restoration that could give us eternal life today.
The resurrection of Jesus is the greatest most important event in history - but the most important event in your history will be your own resurrection. Make sure that when it happens that it will be to joy and glory with Jesus and not to the judgement of disbelief.