The resurrection of Jesus is the foundation of Christianity
There are a lot of topics that I have no interest in arguing about. There are certain biblical stories and events, while interesting and having something to say to us, that in the end will not make much difference to us. On our death bed, we will not be wondering how many Israelite soldiers were at a certain battle. The same cannot be said for the resurrection of Jesus.
The resurrection of Jesus is one of the most important claims of Christianity. It is sad that some Christians speak of the resurrection as if it is just a happy ending tacked on to the crucifixion so that we don’t get depressed. If you study Acts and Paul’s letters, you will see that very often Paul talks about the resurrection without even mentioning the cross.
Here are five reasons why we should take the resurrection seriously.
1. Jesus was the first of the resurrection
The Jews believed in the resurrection but believed it would happen at the end of the world. It would be a resurrection of all God’s people. What happened to Jesus was not just a return to life. It was not a resuscitation such as what happened to Lazarus. The resurrection of Jesus was the first event in the general resurrection and was the sign that the end had begun.
2. The resurrection supports Jesus’ claims
Anyone can claim to be a messiah. Anyone can claim to be a son of God. The fact that Jesus claimed such things was not all that amazing. But the resurrection shines a whole new light on those claims. If Jesus was lying about the Son of God, why would God raise him from the dead?
3. The resurrection clarifies the cross
What happened on the cross? Jesus’ death was the atonement so that we do not have to pay for our sins. But how do we know that? Thousands of people were executed on crosses and there was no reason to believe that anything other than a painful death was going on. The resurrection helps us to understand that the cross a much bigger event. If it was not for the resurrection, we would not know about the atonement.
4. The resurrection is our hope
As mentioned before, the resurrection was not just for Jesus but for all of God’s people. If the cross is victory over sin, the empty tomb is victory over death. What will happen to us after death? When Jesus returns, we will be resurrected. How do we know this is true? Jesus has already been raised. What kind of body will we have? One just like Jesus.
5. The resurrection explains suffering
We do not have to look far to see suffering. It is in our world, in our community, in our life. Why does God allow this? Where is God when there is pain? It is at these times that we need to look at what happened to Jesus. All the questions we ask about pain could have been asked of Jesus on the cross. Jesus felt God-forsaken but he endured because the resurrection was just over the horizon. How do we endure? Same reason. We long for the resurrection, but like Jesus, we only get there through the cross. The cross and resurrection is the lens through which we must look at all suffering.
For more information on the resurrection, I recommend N.T. Wright’s The Resurrection of the Son of God.