“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures…” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)
There are some things about which there can be no compromise. There are some truths so fundamental to what we believe that to compromise on them is to undermine the very foundation upon which our faith is built. For those who identify themselves as Christians, this is true about the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
No one would question the indisputable fact that no life ever lived has had the impact on mankind as that of Jesus Christ. His birth split time in half, B.C. and A.D., and yet what people believe about Christ differs. Many in the West believe that He was at least a good man, while others would add teacher of profound truth and prophet. Others might concede that He was a miracle worker. These are all true, but none go far enough in saying Who Christ was or what was so significant about His life.
Jesus is the Son of God, Who was born of a virgin, and lived His life as a reflection – indeed a revelation – of the Father’s will. He ministered in the power of the Holy Spirit for three and a half years, in which time He changed not only His generation, but also the course of mankind forever.
He did many things while on earth. In fact, the apostle John said that if all the things Jesus did had been recorded, the world itself could not have contained the books that would be written (see John 21:25). Every word He spoke and action He took revealed for us an insight into God the Father and demonstrated the love He has toward each person born into this world.
However, the greatest work Christ performed was as our substitute on the cross, where He willingly took our sin upon Himself and died, paying the penalty for all mankind and balancing the scales of divine justice. Having died, He was buried, and, most importantly of all, He rose again.
The resurrection is the centerpiece of the Christian faith, and, whatever you might call your faith, it is not Christianity without the resurrection. The importance of the resurrection is not in its historicity only, but in its relevance. Yes, it happened. But more importantly it happened for you and me. He died in our stead, the innocent for the guilty, that we might walk free from the guilt and shame of sin that alienated us from God.
Yet Christ’s death and resurrection demand a response from us. The work is finished, and now reconciliation with God has been made available. As the writer of the Hebrews teaches us, Christ’s own flesh was torn, like the veil in the temple which separated Holy God from sinful man, to make a new and living way to the Father (Hebrews 10:19-22). What is the response that Heaven asks? That we believe.
Our faith must be in Christ and His finished work alone. He died and rose again, that we might be raised to newness of life through Him. Indeed, since it was our sin He assumed in becoming Heaven’s sacrifice for us, His resurrection is the proof that the price of our sins has been paid in full. Once the price was paid, death had no more right to hold Him. When He came out of the tomb, we came out with Him. His resurrection was our resurrection. That is why Paul says, “…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” (Romans 10:9-10 English Standard Version).
It is not only with His death we must identify, but with His resurrection also. This is the Faith once delivered to the saints (see Jude 1:3). This is biblical Christianity, not defined by a culture or religion, but by the revelation of Truth given to the Church through divine inspiration of scripture. It is upon the truth of the resurrection that we must rely. If we fall upon it in faith, it becomes the central foundation stone upon which a redeemed life is lived. If we reject it, it becomes the stone that falls upon us in judgment.
Such straight truth is hard to hear for a generation taught to treat truth as ambiguous and malleable toward one’s personal preference. To a society that has pretended that no objective reality exists, that truth is meant to be fashioned and refashioned by each according to his or her own fancy, the gospel shines like a light too bright to be looked upon. It is at once offensive to the unbeliever and yet life to those who find freedom in its message. There is but one hope for the world, and it is Jesus. He and He alone did the work, carried the load, paid the price, and rose again. Put your trust in Him, and the power of His resurrection will bring life to you now, regardless of your past, your circumstances, or your heritage. He is the Savior of us all, and He stands ready to save you now, if you will only believe.