We now turn to the most important story of the entire scripture, the event on which all Christian faith hangs: the Resurrection of the Son of God. The Apostle Paul put it most succinctly, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile.” (1 Corinthians 15:17).
Benjamin Franklin once said, “nothing in this world can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” He was at the very least, half right. Death is the most obvious and observable thing in the universe. Everything decays. Over 8 Billion people have been born into this world over the course of eons. Everyone of them has died or will die. In the history of humankind there have been hundreds of thousands of great teachers, leaders, thinkers, and visionaries who have tried to do great things for the human race. They have taught morals, exposed injustice, helped people, and changed the world in innumerable ways… but none of them have ever escaped death. Jesus was a great leader, visionary, and teacher. But so were Socrates, Buddha, Joan of Arc… what makes Jesus different? What makes Christianity different from any other religion or ideology or philosophy? The Resurrection of the Body. It is perhaps the most audacious claim any of us can ever make, a dead body has returned to life.
How can we believe this about Jesus? No one can empirically prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the resurrection is true, but there are very good clues in scripture that give us reason to think this was not simply a story the first Christians made up.
While we cannot prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the story is true, for the Apostles and the earliest believers of the Christian movement, they believed it to the point of death. They believed the death and resurrection of Jesus changed everything. This is no mere “strange phenomenon” to wonder about, this was a message from God. Paul says Jesus is, “the first-fruits of those who have died… as all died in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:20-23). The resurrection of Jesus is a sign that another resurrection is coming… for us.
Two sisters, two friends of Jesus, were mourning their brother’s untimely death. When Jesus arrived they asked him why couldn’t he have saved their brother Lazarus? Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believes in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” (John 11:25-26). Jesus’ resurrection is good news for those who believe and follow. It means death is no longer an enemy to be feared. “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul” (Matthew 10:28).
The book of Revelation tells us that one day when the dead are raised, God will destroy death forever. The victory over evil will be complete. The solution will be finished.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
“See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them;
he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.”
And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life. Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children.
This is the destiny of those who will put their faith in Jesus. There was nothing we could do to stop the powers of sin, death, and the devil; only God could do that. And if we want the water of life, he will give it to us. And the final enemy, death, will be gone forever (1 Corinthians 15:54-57).
- What reason do we have to believe anything Jesus had to say?
- If this life is all there is, what would be the point of it all?
- What does the Apostle Paul mean when he writes that Christ is “the first-fruits of those who have died”?