‘Now 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? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. ‘ – I Corinthians 15:12-20
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the single most significant event that has ever happened in the history of the world. If the crucifixion didn’t happen, then the Resurrection would have been meaningless. Thousands of people were crucified, but only one was raised from the dead.
Everything that matters to us as believers is dependent upon this one reality: that Jesus rose from the dead. 1 Corinthians 15:14 says, “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.”
JESUS ROSE FROM THE DEAD
A lot of times you may hear people asking if there is life after death, but in Paul’s time, the question that concerned many was if there was actually a resurrection. The Pharisees believed in the resurrection, but the Sadducees did not. But once Jesus rose from the dead, there was no question that there is such a thing as resurrection from the dead.
That’s why in Christian theology, we believe there is resurrection not only of Jesus but for everyone. At some point, everyone who has ever lived is going to be raised from the dead. The righteous will be resurrected to their eternal reward and the unrighteous will be resurrected for eternal punishment.
During Paul’s era, the topic of resurrection was under intense debate. Paul emphasized that if the resurrection was deemed false, it would imply that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, leading to monumental implications. Paul enumerated the consequences: preaching becomes redundant, faith turns futile, disciples would be deemed liars, salvation would be a mere illusion, death would reign supreme, and life would be mired in misery.
Paul wasn’t being flippant; he asserted that if this pivotal claim about Christ’s resurrection was untrue, the entirety of Christianity would crumble. Atheists often say that Christians possess a blind faith, equating faith with believing without evidence. However, faith should not be baseless. While mythical entities like the Easter bunny or tooth fairy lack evidence and thus are dismissed, Christianity is anchored in historical and tangible evidence.
Above all, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ stands as one of the most well-documented events from ancient times, solidifying the belief in His miraculous rise from the dead.
IF JESUS DIDN’T RISE…
Paul is not saying that Jesus didn’t rise,he simply wants you to think about its implications. If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead then He wasn’t who He claimed to be and there is nothing He can do for you. He can’t save, heal, bless, deliver, or forgive you. He can’t do anything for you.
If Jesus didn’t rise, then all the disciples were deceivers. But once they had seen the resurrected Christ, those men who had been cowards a few days earlier suddenly became bold, fearless witnesses of the Resurrection of Christ and every one of them went to their graves and died for their witness of the Resurrection of Christ.
Peter was crucified upside down, Andrew was crucified on an X-shaped cross, James the son of Zebedee was beheaded, John was boiled in oil, survived miraculously, then was exiled. Phillip was killed by hanging, and Thomas was tortured with spears and then burned alive. Matthew was beheaded and James the son of Alpheus was stoned to death. Thaddeus was shot through with arrows, Simon was probably crucified as well, Bartholomew was fileted alive and Matthias was stoned and then beheaded. Paul is saying that if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead then all of these guys were deceivers who died to perpetuate their lies.
If Jesus didn’t resurrect then salvation itself is imaginary. If death had the power to hold Him that would mean sin had power over Him. And if sin had power over Him then Jesus could not have been an acceptable sacrifice for our sins. And if there is no acceptable sacrifice for our sins then we are still in our sins without God and without hope in the world.
If Jesus didn’t win then that means death itself is victorious. If He didn’t resurrect then no one else will and that means the end of the world and the end of the human story is a story of death.
If Jesus didn’t rise then everything you have had hope in as a Christian is a lie.
HE HAS RISEN
The good news is, Jesus has risen. Even secular and unbelieving historians and scholars believe the following:
- They believe that Jesus died by crucifixion.
- He was buried, and after death, His disciples lost all hope, and the original disciples experienced the real appearance of the Risen Christ.
- They believed that the disciples went from doubters to bold believers, and the disciples died for that testimony.
- The central message of the apostles and early church was the Resurrection of Jesus
- Unorthodox Jews became believers in Jesus after the Resurrection.
- James, who was a skeptical brother of Jesus, became a believer because he saw Jesus resurrected from the dead.
- Paul who was a skeptical and hostile Jew became a devoted follower of Christ.
All of those things are indisputable facts. And there is only one thing that can explain all those provable, historical events: It’s that Jesus Christ was actually raised from the dead. Acts 4:33 says, “And with great power, the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.”
Every day you should demonstrate the evidence of the Risen Christ. That is what it means to be a Christian. You should walk in the power of the Resurrection. After telling us all that we would have to accept if Jesus was not raised, Paul says not to worry because He is risen. 1 Corinthians 15:20 says, “But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.” After telling us all of the things we would have to accept if Jesus did not rise from the dead, he says not to worry. No longer is your preaching in vain but in fact powerful.
1 Corinthians 1:17 says, “For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” Your faith is no longer futile, but fruitful. You are putting your faith in the One that rose from the dead. He is alive today. The disciples are no longer deceivers, they are dependable. They didn’t just die for what they believed, they died for what they claimed they saw with their own eyes. Not one of those disciples, not even under the worst duress, recanted or pulled back their testimony. To their graves, they all testified to what they had personally seen–that Jesus is alive
Salvation is no longer imaginary, but it is sure. Jesus rising from the dead means that God accepted the sacrifice that Jesus made on your behalf. This means that you can be forgiven of your sins. There is nothing you’ve done or said or any sin that has been committed that cannot be forgiven. There is nothing that can keep you from His love and mercy.
No longer is death victorious but it is defeated. Death has been swallowed up in life. Jesus is alive and the fact that He rose from the dead is the guarantee that you are going to rise and the power of the Resurrection will come into you. 1 Thessalonians 4:16 says, “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.”
Not only is your preaching powerful, your faith fruitful, the disciples dependable, salvation sure, and death defeated, but you are blessed, happy, comforted, and have the most joy and hope because Jesus rose from the dead.
You now have the spirit that raised Jesus from the dead if you have surrendered your life to Him.
You never have to fear death again or face the world alone because Jesus rose from the dead. The Resurrection is real, and because of it, eternal life is ours to experience through a relationship with the Risen King, Jesus.
How badly do you want to experience the love, salvation, and forgiveness of God? Do you need your sins forgiven? Do you need to be saved?
How ready are you for your spiritual resurrection to take place? Are you ready for your old life to die?