The Necessity of the Resurrection
“…he was raised on the third day, according to the scriptures.” 1 Corinthians 15:4
Let’s be honest for a moment: sometimes we worship better than we understand. A case in point would be the resurrection of Christ. In a couple of days we will be celebrating together the wonder, the magnificence, the mystery of Christ’s resurrection from the dead. It is the central point in the gospel narrative; that God the Son took on flesh after laying aside all the privileges of deity—laying aside not abandoning or losing—so that he might die on the cross for sin (see for example the tremendous anthem in Philippians 2:5-11).
Every other spiritual leader that the world has followed has been born, died, and stayed dead! What sets Christ apart (among a multitude of other things) is his resurrection. He boldly claimed that he of his own volition laid down his life (i.e. it wasn’t taken from him) and he had the power to take it up again (i.e. the fact that he participated in his own resurrection). And that he did—as Paul succinctly wrote, and he was raised the third day according to the scriptures.
The resurrection of Christ is critical to our own journey for three reasons: First, if Christ hasn’t been raised, then our faith is vain (empty, meaningless, or being absolutely rotten and no good). Second, if Christ hasn’t been raised then, furthermore, our faith is worthless (devoid of content and to no purpose or end). Meaningless and worthless…that is what our faith-life would be. Finally, Paul tells us that if Christ hasn’t been raised then our life is a sham, and we are to be pitied most among all the people of the earth.
We grasp the truth behind the reality that Christ was killed at the hands of the Romans on their favorite torture device; that he was taken was wrapped up in a cloth casket and placed in a rock-hewn tomb; that on Sunday morning he walked out of that crypt in full glory and power. We know this (the more Easter’s you experience the more fully we acknowledge the facts), but we don’t really know how all that took place. We have nothing to compare it to, really, that will suffice for us to take the mystery out the whole event.
But it is more complicated than that! Jesus gives testimony that whoever believer in him will not perish by have eternal life, and a significant part of that eternal life for us is our won resurrection! Christ guarantees that those of authentic faith will undergo the same moment of transformation through resurrection that he did, only that we are full recipients of it since we cannot do it ourselves.
John admitted the mystery of it all in his first letter, chapter three, first three verses. I could translate it like this: we have no idea what we will be like at the moment of resurrection. All we know is that when he comes back for us, we’ll be just like him! We get to see him for ourselves face to face! Now that is a mystery. And we worship the Lord Jesus for making all this possible! So when you take a few moments to contemplate the wonder of his resurrection, when you gather with other believers to sing anthems of praise to the only one who make it all possible, or when you think about the future days when all this will become reality for you, worship well…even if you don’t understand it fully.
Blessings on the Journey,