When I was growing up, I do not think I ever heard one person say to me that he did not believe that Jesus literally came back from the dead. Nor have I ever taken a survey to find out how many people do not believe the fact that Jesus rose from the dead after being completely deceased for three days.
Easter Sunday is just a few days away, so it is important that we remember the fact of Jesus’ resurrection along with its import.
Let us lay down one reminder before we get into the reason for the Easter season: Everyone believes in miracles. Just ask anyone dying from cancer if he believes in miracles. Ninety-nine percent of the time, you will get a yes, with a reaction of hope that he or she will receive such a miracle.
Some people claim that they do not believe in miracles. They say that they believe in evolution. Evolution is the idea that everything around us popped out nothing. Not even thin air since air is something. No. Evolution is the idea that everything came from literally nothing.
Pause right now and give that some thought. That is the least scientific proposal you have ever heard or will ever hear in your life. Evolution is not scientific at all. It is a religious faith that seeks to reject God’s existence.
Then we realize that belief in evolution is a belief in miracles. Even people who deny the existence of miracles believe in miracles. All of us believe in miracles. The fact that Jesus rose from the dead is a miracle. Praise the Lord!
I want you to think about four things as you are spending time in church and with friends and family this Easter Sunday. First, Easter was created in order to intentionally celebrate the most important event in human history.
Some Christians have a problem with holidays and even seek to vilify them. But the Old and New Testaments are littered with passages in which God has called or ordained holidays with specific purpose. God’s purpose for holidays throughout the Bible is to remember his great works for his people. Easter is a holiday established to celebrate the greatest thing God has ever done in human history.
Second, there are three specific reasons why Jesus’ resurrection is the greatest event to ever take place in human history:
1. Jesus’ resurrection is the basis upon which Christianity stands or falls. The Bible is not bashful about this issue. It is intensely explicit. First Corinthians chapter 15 is made up of 58 verses. Each verse is devoted to the fact that the Christian faith is contingent upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
It says, “and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover, we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised” (1 Corinthians 15:14–15, NASB95).
If Jesus Christ has not been literally raised from the dead, then the Christian religion is fake. Christianity is a waste of time, and Christians are just a bunch of delusional charlatans.
But Jesus Christ has been raised, as the Bible so clearly teaches. Because Jesus has been raised, everything about the Christian religion in the Bible is true. That also means that Christianity is the only true religion because Jesus in the Bible is exclusive. Salvation comes only through Jesus and Jesus alone.
2. Jesus’ resurrection is the basis for non-contradictory morality. Christians call it sanctification. Have you ever wondered why so-called evolutionists or those who buy into moral relativism hold moral standards? It makes no sense.
Evolution holds no moral standards since everyone is a bunch of more highly evolved animals. Animals do what animals do. Sharks and male grizzly bears eat their own young. And that is completely fine and good if you are an animal.
You and I are not animals because we are made in the image of God. We are image bearers, not animals. The Bible reminds us that Jesus created all things. This reminder came many years after Jesus’ death, resurrection and assentation to heaven. Jesus is God in flesh. And Jesus “upholds all things by the word of His power.” (Hebrews 1:2–3, NASB95). Now he sits on his throne in heaven until he returns to vindicate the righteous.
If you do not believe that Jesus rose from the dead, then you have no true basis upon which to say that one thing is right and another thing is wrong. Evolutionary thought and relativism were in fact the basis on which the serial killer Ted Bundy justified his heinous crimes (Douglas Groothuis, “Philosophy in Seven Sentences: A Small Introduction to a Vast Topic,” 27–28). And heinous they were.
The Bible says, “We love, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19, NASB95). Jesus loved us by dying on the cross for our sins and rising from the dead three days later. There would be no point to his death if he did not literally rise from it in bodily form.
When you genuinely love others, you do it because you believe that Jesus died and rose again for you. Jesus is the standard of love, goodness and all that is right in the world.
The Bible speaks of “the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age” (Galatians 1:3b–4a, NASB95). Jesus and no one else is God’s standard of morality. Jesus even said, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13, NASB95).
This topic is most certainly one upon which we can write many dissertations. My point here is to stress to you why Jesus’ resurrection is important in real time. Jesus’ resurrection is important because Jesus is the basis for morality. If he did not do what he said he would do, i.e., rise from the dead (John 10:18), then we have no reason to believe or follow anything else he taught.
But because he did do what he said he would do, i.e., rise from the dead, then we have every reason and responsibility to heed his words and bow the knee.
3. Jesus’ resurrection is the basis for everlasting hope in this life. Not only is Jesus’ resurrection the basis for the Christian religion. Not only is Jesus’ resurrection the basis for non-contradictory morality. Jesus’ resurrection is the basis for everlasting hope in this life.
Our third point of focus on Jesus’ resurrection is the most important element to Jesus’ resurrection. The reason is because it directly impacts how we live in the present in light of the future.
The Bible says, “If the dead are not raised, LET US EAT AND DRINK, FOR TOMORROW WE DIE” (1 Corinthians 15:32b, NASB95). You have nothing to look forward to without faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. First Corinthians 15:17 says, “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins” (NASB95).
That means that you cannot even be saved from your sins today if Christ is not raised. There is no real hope for change. You may put a band-aid on it, but there is not real hope for being saved from the struggles of motherhood and husbandry and parenthood, etc.
Yet there is absolute hope for tomorrow and eternity because Christ has been raised. Just read the climactic words of 1 Corinthians 15.
Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about 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. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 15:50–58, NASB95)
If Christ is your Lord, you have hope for tomorrow. You are being saved from the sins which so easily beset you today, and you will finally be saved from sin when Jesus returns and gives you an imperishable, immortal body just like his own.
You will no longer struggle with the ravages of sin. You will no longer fear death because death has been conquered in the death of Christ. You will live with God forever in complete peace and security. You will live with hope for tomorrow.
Give your life to Christ today, if you have not already done so. Jesus died and rose again from the dead so that you could have eternal life. Trust him to forgive your sins and live.
The Rev. Andrés Reyes is the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Perry.