As a preparation for the holiest season of the year, I would like you to ponder how different your life would be if Jesus did not rise from the dead. The Christian faith hangs on the validity and historicity of the resurrection. Without the resurrection the entire narrative of Jesus’ life ends like a sad Greek tragedy. If the press corps in Jerusalem had printed a news story about Jesus the Saturday after Good Friday, it might have read something like this:
“The controversial Galilean rabbi/miracle worker named Jesus, who claimed to be the Son of God and the promised Jewish Messiah, suffered a tragic death at the hands of His religious and political enemies. Sources close to the action confirm that he was condemned by false witnesses at an illegal midnight meeting of the Sanhedrin and that he was examined and exonerated the next morning by Pontius Pilate, Rome’s governor. However, angry mobs that had been whipped into a bloodthirsty fury by Jerusalem’s religious elite would not disperse until the official order came for Jesus to be crucified. The pubic spectacle of a celebrated Roman governor washing his hands in public dramatized the fragile political tensions that exist between Rome and the Jewish religious leadership.
Yesterday will go down as the bleakest day the holy city has ever witnessed. From noon to three o’clock, an eerie darkness enveloped the city and powerful earthquakes raised fears that the Temple might be damaged or destroyed. Caiaphas, the High Priest, reports that only minor damages occurred but that the main curtain that covers the Holiest Place was mysteriously torn from the top to the bottom. Since it was the eve of the Passover, the High Priest persuaded Pilate to speed up the execution by breaking the legs of Jesus and the two criminals dying on either side of Jesus. However, when the soldiers came to break the legs of Jesus they found that he was already dead. The Roman centurion reported that the nervous crowds finally dispersed with a deep sense of relief when Jesus was taken down from the cross.
It is believed that the body of Jesus was buried in the borrowed tomb of a rich businessman, Joseph of Arimathea. Since the Galilean claimed that he would rise from the dead on the third day, the temple guard was dispatched to secure the tomb and make sure that Jesus’ unfounded claims would not be twisted into a hoax. The city should return to its normal Passover festivities once the memory of this dramatic crucifixion is past.”
Despite their worst fears, the unsuspecting residents of Jerusalem, the Roman authorities, the religious establishment, the followers of Jesus and the world were about to be permanently shaken. History records that the grave where Jesus was buried burst open with resurrection life on day three just as Jesus predicted. The Gospels record that the disciples of Jesus were eyewitnesses. In secular history, Roman historian Tacitus, and the Jewish historian Josephus, both report the resurrection. The evidence for the resurrection is airtight but, just for a moment, consider how different the world would be without the resurrection. The apostle Paul, a former doubter turned believer, speculated that exact thought in 1 Corinthians 15 where he wrote:
“Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And 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.” (1 Corinthians 15:12-19)
So let’s mark the devastating impact if Jesus did not rise from the dead? If Christ was not resurrected then…
1. The message of the disciples is empty of meaning and power.
2. The faith of every Christian is meaningless and foolish.
3. The Christian faith is a fraud because it misrepresents Jesus as having power over death.
4. Every dead person is rotting in the grave with no hope of life beyond death.
5. There is no answer to humanity’s pervasive and devastating moral corruption. Mankind is basically evil without a remedy.
6. Humanity is doomed.
7. Life on earth is a cruel joke going nowhere.
8. All hope is lost.
Now comes the greatest news! The exhilarating truth is this:
“But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep… For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
‘Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?’
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
(1 Corinthians 15:20; 53-57)
So let’s mark only a few of the benefits that flow from the historical fact of Christ’s resurrection from the dead.
1. The message of the disciples is brimming with meaning and power.
2. The faith of every Christian is meaningful and brilliant.
3. The Christian faith is substantiated by the historical proof that Jesus rose bodily from the dead.
4. The dead bodies of those who believed in Christ are awaiting a glorious resurrection when Jesus comes again.
5. The devastation of sin is not final. Through faith in Jesus who died as a substitute, God has graciously provided all mankind a path to forgiveness, restoration, redemption and eternal life.
6. Life on earth is a prelude to eternity in heaven.
7. The resurrection guarantees believers in Jesus a living hope.
I’ve often said “no one appreciates something until they know the lack of it.” It’s hard to imagine how utterly disgusting, disconcerting and despairing life would be if the resurrection was not true. On the contrary, it is hard to overstate the beauty, the thrill and the buoyant hope we have in our resurrected Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. This year let this joyous refrain echo off the walls and in the hearts of Cornerstone Church: “Christ is risen. He is risen indeed!”
"The Christian faith hangs on the validity and historicity of the resurrection. Without the resurrection the entire narrative of Jesus’ life ends like a sad Greek tragedy."
"In secular history, Roman historian Tacitus, and the Jewish historian Josephus, both report the resurrection. The evidence for the resurrection is airtight but, just for a moment, consider how different the world would be without the resurrection."
"The devastation of sin is not final. Through faith in Jesus who died as a substitute, God has graciously provided all mankind a path to forgiveness, restoration, redemption and eternal life."
"It’s hard to imagine how utterly disgusting, disconcerting and despairing life would be if the resurrection was not true. On the contrary, it is hard to overstate the beauty, the thrill and the buoyant hope we have in our resurrected Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ."