- Rick LoPresti
The essentiality of the resurrection
The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the gospel (1Corinthians 15:1-4). The death of Jesus is essential to our salvation. He did not die for Himself. He is God in the flesh. He had nothing to gain by manifesting Himself as a man, and dying. He did it for us (John 10:11-18). That is the greatest love (John 15:13). It was the perfect act of self-sacrifice. However, His resurrection is just as essential. Everyone dies. Jesus is not the only man to die, to be crucified, or even to rise from the dead. What made His death so effective for us is that He rose by His own power. 1Corinthians 15:13-32 shows us how important this is. If there is no resurrection of the dead as the Sadducees believed (Matthew 22:23), then Christ is not risen. If Christ is not risen, the preaching of the gospel and our faith is for nothing, the apostles are liars, we are still in our sins, Christians who have died have perished, and Christians who suffer are most miserable because there is no hope, there is no purpose to water baptism (Romans 6:1-4, Colossians 2:11-12), and there is no final justice (John 5:29, Revelation 20:11-15). If Jesus only died and did not rise again, He is not the Messiah. He would be a liar, and would not have fulfilled the prophecies about Himself such as Isaiah 53.
1Corinthians 15 also shows us what His resurrection did for us. Since Christ did rise again, He made a way for us to also be resurrected, reversed what Adam's sin did, destroyed the power of death over us, and gives us the opportunity to be delivered from dishonor to glory, from weakness to power, and from the natural to the spiritual.
How do we know the resurrection of Jesus happened? The most important reason is because the Bible says He did. The Bible and the testimony of the Lord Himself are unimpeachable. Yet there is other supporting evidence. He appeared 15 times after He rose:
1. Matthew 28:17
2. Mark 16:9 (Jn 20:14-17)
3. Mark 16:12 (Lk 24:13-31)
4. Mark 16:14
5. Luke 24:36
6. John 20:19-23
7. John 20:26-29
8. John 21:1-22
9. Acts 1:3 – by many infallible proofs for 40 days
10. Acts 1:4-9
11. 1Corinthians 15:5-8
b. over 500 most of whom were still alive when Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 25-30 years
d. all the apostles
e. Paul (Acts 9)
The tomb was sealed and guarded, and was found empty. The day of the week of specific spiritual celebration changed from the Sabbath on Saturday to Sunday. Eyewitnesses testified with great boldness to it (Acts 2-5). Before they were afraid and discouraged (Matthew 26:56, Matthew 26:74-75, John 20:19 & 26, John 21:3). They had nothing to gain but their lives to lose by testifying so. The written record of their testimony is the unimpeachable New Testament. The baptism of the Holy Ghost is proof He rose (Luke 24:48-49, John 14-16, Acts 5:32, Romans 8:11). The impact over the last 2,000 years, and continued miracles in His name are proof.
The bottom line is we either believe or we don't. "Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed (John 20:29)." It doesn't matter how much proof can be shown to an unbeliever. They don't believe. Faith is the eyes to see the invisible (2Corinthians 4:18. Hebrews 11:1). "If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead (Luke 16:31)." If people reject the written word of God, they can personally see a resurrection, and they will dismiss it with some earthly explanation. "For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it (Hebrews 4:2)." When we do connect our faith with the scriptures, they will prove themselves to us through our faith. The unbeliever will never understand this. The power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ is available to all who believe.