Jesus did what he said he was going to do
Jesus was who he claimed to be: the Son of God.
Jesus, not another like him, number twenty-six
Every detail of that surreal day is etched in my memory--it was the day my dear mother was buried. Most of the day, I felt like I must be in someone else's body, as I conducted her funeral in the pretty little chapel in Piedmont, California.1 When others filed by her open casket, I stood calmly by, but could not turn and look or I would have been undone. However, once at her graveside, all decorum went out the window as I demanded that the (tiny-bit startled by me) attendant open her sealed casket so I could kiss her goodbye. I had no delusions ... I knew it was 'good bye' until I saw her again in Heaven.
Not so with Jesus. His Roman-sealed tomb was empty on that Sunday morning, his linen grave clothes neatly folded. The soldiers were busy trying to make up stories about what had happened, because at any cost, they had to produce the body of Jesus--their own lives were on the line.
Over the years, there have been stories about what might have happened to Jesus' body. There was the ever popular Swoon Theory: Jesus had not really died, he had just passed out. Then there was the Someone Stole the Body theory, which could only have been done by bribing the soldiers; that did not happen. There have been other preposterous notions that could not/have never been corroborated. In the end, it comes back to the fact that Jesus did what he said he was going to do. Matthew wrote, "Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life."2
Here's the question: Why does Jesus' resurrection matter so much? Paul's statement in 1 Corinthians 15 says it all:
"If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile. . ." another translation says,
"If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."
Why? Because the resurrection changes everything.
IF Jesus did not rise from the dead, it would have made him a liar, and nothing else he taught would have been credible.
IF he did not rise from the dead, we would not serve a living Savior and Lord.
IF Jesus did not rise from the dead, we would not have the hope of resurrection after death ourselves to make our home with him forever.
The Christian faith would not have gone forward if Jesus had been killed and never heard from again. The disciples would have remained hopeless, died in shame and that would have been the end of Christianity. Alas, it was not, and we are evidence of that! The young Jewish-Christian church started in Jerusalem, and soon spread to Mediterranean lands and beyond, which assures us that these new believers who were enduring great persecution saw and believed in the risen Lord.
Paul wrote the most extensive biblical treatise on the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, also recorded in 1 Corinthians 15 ~ "I delivered to you that ... Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,3 and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, (Peter) then to the twelve. After that he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared to me also." (Paul was an eyewitness of the resurrected Jesus on the road to Damascus - Acts 9). These verses formed a creed that was recited in early Christian churches, and have been dated by scholars to within two to eight years of Jesus' resurrection.
Eyewitness accounts are the most valuable evidence in any matter or event being analyzed. Here we have 515 eyewitnesses, most of whom were still alive when this was written, who could have refuted what has been recorded about Jesus' post-resurrection appearances, but they did not. Jesus talked, walked and ate with his disciples.
The resurrection of Jesus is the greatest symbol of hope for all people.
If someone wants to know truth, there is enough evidence and
sufficient historical proofs for Christianity to be trusted...
all resting on the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
It means that we serve a living God!
Combined with our faith is the HOPE that there is a new world to come, and in that world, God will set the record straight. And the resurrection is one more testament that God keeps his promises . . .
Let us conclude by saying, the Resurrection is the epicenter of belief. [As a native Californian, no stranger to earthquakes, I know all about the epicenter of power!] The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is not a belief that grew up within the church; it is the belief around which the church itself grew up, and the 'given' upon which its faith is based.4
No more worryin' now . . . He's alive!
No more defeatist attitudes . . . He's alive!
1 - a small town of about 11,000, whose name means 'hillside' wedged next to Oakland, CA
2 - Matthew 12.40; 16.21
3 - Psalm 16.10
4 - C.H. Dodd