I want to offer up five significant thoughts about what the resurrection of Jesus Christ provides to us. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is far more significant than any other event in history. While most people tend to give more attention to Christmas, I’ve always felt that the resurrection was of greater importance. If there had been no resurrection there would be no Christmas celebration; the resurrection gives Christmas its meaning.
Aside from Christmas, the resurrection provides five things that make Christianity stand out as unique, remarkable, and superior to every other philosophy and faith.
THE RESURRECTION REVERSES THE GARDEN CURSE
We don’t often think of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden when we think of Easter. But the scriptures actually tie the two together. The first pronouncement that man would die was in Genesis 2:17. God warned Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, “for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” After their disobedience, in Genesis 3:19 God confirmed the consequences of their sin: “By the sweat of your face you will eat bread, till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
From that point on all men were subjected to the punishment of death for the disobedience of sin: “Through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men” (Romans 5:12). But Jesus, as the “last Adam” of I Corinthians 15:45, negates the final effects of the curse. Though we will one day all partake of death, the death of the Christian is only a temporary condition while we await our own resurrection that will give us a body like his: “Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly” (I Corinthians 15:49).
THE RESURRECTION JUSTIFIES THE BELIEVER
Justification is the pronouncement by God that he has accepted Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross as the punishment for our sin. This acceptance by God results in the freeing of the believer from the terminal consequences of our sin. Romans 4:25 tells us that Jesus “was raised because of our justification.” No Christian need ever be concerned with his or her eternal destiny. The resurrection of Jesus Christ makes our destiny a surety. We will enjoy eternal life with Christ in our own resurrected, transformed bodies.
THE RESURRECTION TRANSFORMS
We already know from I Corinthians 15 that we will receive resurrected, transformed bodies during the resurrection of the righteous. But we sometimes forget that the resurrection provides transformation in this earthly life. We have two dramatic examples in the scripture of this very fact.
Following his death, Jesus’ disciples hid themselves away from the Jewish authorities. Their hopes for the coming kingdom seemed crushed following the crucifixion. Yet when the risen Lord Jesus showed himself to them, they were radically changed. This was not simple case of resuscitation. Jesus was horribly mangled from beatings and the cruelty of the cross. The flesh of his back had been ripped away. His body had been beaten, swollen, bruised, and bloodied. His death was attested to by soldiers, his friends, and religious leaders. A sword pierced his side, rupturing his heart. So when the disciples saw Jesus standing before them on the third day they could not help but be transformed. They had seen a man destroyed as well as dead, and suddenly there he was standing before them, restored.
The result for the disciples was a transformation from fear to courage. Each of them took the message of the risen Jesus with them. They had become dynamic missionaries, serving for years, with each of them dying a martyr’s death proclaiming the risen Savior.
The Apostle Paul is another significant example of the power of the resurrection. Paul, in a frenzy of murderous rage persecuted Christians from place to place until the risen Christ appeared to him on the road to Damascus. Paul’s response to seeing the risen Jesus? “Immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, ?saying, “He is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20).
THE RESURRECTION IS REVOLUTIONARY
In our English Bibles we read the word “resurrection” and think of nothing more than a rising up from the dead. But in Greek there was more than one word used that we translate as “resurrection” or “raised.” One of those words has as a root meaning to rise to revolt, as in political revolution. How appropriate is such a word! The person who embraces Christ is doing nothing less than experiencing a revolution in his soul, rejecting the old sinful nature for the transformation of a new nature. The Scriptures say that since our old self was crucified with Christ we are freed from our sin (Romans 6:5-11). “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body” (Romans 6:12). The Christian is to experience nothing less than a revolution of character having “rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of “His beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13).
THE RESURRECTION PROVIDES PURPOSE AND MEANING TO LIFE
Without the resurrection of Jesus Christ Christianity is meaningless. “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain…and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins” (I Corinthians 15:13-14,17).
How dreadful life would be without the sure hope of the resurrection. Knowing our future state, that of bodily resurrection to become whole people the way God intended, gives us purpose and direction for life.
Nothing else in life offers the hope, purpose, and meaning that the resurrection of Jesus does. The atheist mistakenly looks to a future of nonexistence. The Buddhist hopes for a better rebirth and nonexistent nirvana. The deceived Muslim awaits his virgins. None of these offer the hope that the resurrection of Jesus Christ brings.