Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this… (Luke 24:1-4)
Now as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside and said to them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn Him to death and will turn Him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day He will be raised to life!” (Matthew 20:17-19)
To an unbelieving world, the saving power of the cross of Jesus Christ is foolishness; for those who’ve been saved by His grace, it is the power of the living God! That saving power comes through the bodily resurrection of Christ.
Why is the risen Christ the cornerstone of the Christian faith?
The foundation of Christianity stands or crumbles on the truthfulness of the claim that Jesus rose from the dead — not on dogma or doctrine, but an historical event. Witnesses reported seeing the empty tomb, which had been sealed and guarded by the Romans, and many others reported seeing Christ alive after He died.
In His death, Christ conquered death. When the Bible refers to Satan as a defeated foe, it means good has won over evil. We’re just marking time here on earth, growing the kingdom, and waiting for Christ to return to bring God’s judgment on an unbelieving world. Believers are commissioned to share the Gospel with all men of all nations so they can hear it, believe it, and share in the redemption before it’s too late to repent.
A risen Christ shows the power of the true God. Who else but God can raise someone from the dead? Christ’s resurrection validates everything He said about Himself and everything He said about His Father.
Christ’s death on the cross is the basis for our redemption and salvation, and His bodily resurrection assures us that we, too, will be resurrected. The power of the resurrected Christ lives in all believers, and He’s presently sitting at the right hand of God as our High Priest, making intercession on our behalf.
(The Bible teaches that at Christ’s death, the veil in the Jerusalem temple, which separated the people from the earthly high priest in the Holy of Holies, was torn from top to bottom, symbolizing a welcoming of all into the sanctuary. We no longer needed a human intercessor to offer sacrifices that couldn’t save anyway. Only Christ’s offering saves, and thanks to His finished work, we have direct access to God.)
What faith is this if the resurrection claim is untrue? The apostle Paul tells us in his first letter to the Corinthian church. Although they’d been taught about the bodily resurrection of believers, some of the Christians in Corinth, influenced by the pagan culture and the Sadducees (both of whom didn’t believe in resurrection of the dead), were confused about their own resurrection. Paul wrote:
“Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up — if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!” (1 Corinthians 15:12-17).
So why was Christ’s death necessary in the first place? Because God’s law requires punishment for sin. In Genesis 3, we read that man became separated from God when Adam and Eve disobeyed Him and ate the forbidden fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It was disobedience, not eating the fruit per se (or sex, as some people think), that condemned them. Consequently, every human inherited Adam’s sinful nature. That sinful nature separates us — everyone — from God and affects our minds, bodies, and souls.
The Bible describes us as spiritually dead and unable to do anything to save ourselves. Just as Lazarus was physically dead in his tomb, we are spiritually dead in our sins. But when the sovereign hand of God quickens us alive, we rise as Lazarus rose when Jesus said, “Lazarus, come forth!” Before He commanded Lazarus to rise, Jesus comforted his sister Martha: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26).
Yes I do!
But unbelievers laugh at our faith and make a mockery of it. Though they mock, they inherently seem to know they’ll have to answer to someone for the bad things they’ve done. So they come up with their own salvation plan, believing the “good” they do will outweigh the bad. “But I’m a good person,” they insist. No dears, you are not. You’re bad,through and through. What you don’t realize is that one sin is enough to put you under God’s wrath, and we all know our sins are innumerable. While we may block some of them out, He knows every single sinful thing we’ve ever done. There is no way for us to satisfy His righteous standard: perfection. But…
…God has provided a way for us to get around His impossibly high standard: Jesus Christ. He stood in our place, receiving the due penalty of our sins. Christ suffered the wrath of the Father so those he came to save wouldn’t have to!
The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ set us free from the penalty of sin. We are saved by God’s grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone, and He assures us that we will be resurrected and united with him.
The salvation of men comes through the person and work of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Originally published on La Shawn Barber’s Corner.
Photo credit: minomap (Creative Commons)