|Posted by Rev. Mathew Philip on March 23, 2008 at 1:55 AM|
Why the Resurrection of Christ is important?
There are things that are important in our lives. A Job is important to make our lively hood, to get the insurance coverage, and to make a good credit history. Marriage is important to build up family, society, relationship and future. Likewise, something very important for a Christian is the fact of resurrection. Why the resurrection of Christ is important in the lives of believers? Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 talks about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is important in our lives because:
1. Our Faith is anchored on the fact of Resurrection (vv. 1-11)
The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the central fact of the Christian faith. The entire structure of Christianity ? any hope for eternal life and any meaning to human existence ? stands or falls with Christ?s resurrection. One of the purposes of Paul writing this letter to the Corinthians is to correct false teachings concerning the resurrection of Christ. Paul found some in the Corinthian church who were influenced by Greek philosophy and religion denying the resurrection of the body. He also found some others who were in the line of Sadducees (Matt. 22:23) saying that there was no resurrection. In his answer to these both errors, Paul recalls the resurrection of Jesus. The heart of the gospel is the death, burial and resurrection of Christ (vv. 1-4). The gospel is simple and nothing to argue about it. What is the gospel? Paul says in 2 Timothy 2:8, ?Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel.? The gospel is that Jesus died for our sins, that he was buried and that he was raised from the dead. What Paul preached to the Corinthians was that ?Jesus Christ and Him crucified.? The Corinthians received Paul?s message as God?s own Word, by which they are saved, continue in their faith, established and stand firm. They took their stand with God. So the gospel has the power to save us and establish us in our faith in Christ Jesus.
Is the resurrection story a myth or a fact? The fact of the resurrection is impossible for many modern people to accept. But the fact of His resurrection is the most important event of history and therefore, appropriately, is the most certain fact in all history. Paul talks about the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. To prove the resurrection, he had to first of all, establish the fact of Jesus? death. It was because there were people who denied the physical death of Jesus Christ. They say that Jesus died spiritually. Some others say that Jesus did not actually die, but swooned on the Cross because of the weakness and heavy loss of blood (Swoon theory). The coolness of the tomb and the fragrance of the aromatic spices together with the hours of rest revived him. When he came back to his conscience, he emerged from the tomb, appeared to his disciples and led them to believe that he was raised from the dead. Paul brings out two lines of evidences for the death and resurrection of Christ: (1) Firstly he brings out the testimony of the Old Testament (Ps 16: 8-11; Isa 53:5-6). Paul argues that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. Apostle John says in John 19:33 that soldiers made it sure that Jesus was already dead. They did not break his leg. John the apostle was the witness to this incident (19: 35). Then Paul establishes the fact that Jesus was buried ? We see the account of Jesus? burial in Gospels. When Joseph of Aremathea went to Pilate and asked for Jesus? body to bury him, Pilate made it sure that Jesus had already died (Mark 15:43). Paul enunciates the fact that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. The Jews counted parts of days as whole days. Thus three days would include part of Friday afternoon, all of Saturday, and Sunday morning. (2) The second major fact supporting the resurrection is the testimony of eyewitnesses. Six resurrection appearances are listed here: (1) Peter ? The appearance to Peter occurred on Easter Sunday (24:34). (2) The Twelve ? The appearance to the twelve seems to have taken place on Sunday evening Luke 24:36-43; Jn. 20:19-23). (3) More than five hundred ? This appearance may be the one in Galilee (Matt 28:10). (4) James ? He was the half brother of Jesus (Matt 13:55) who became prominent in the Jerusalem church (Acts 15:130). (5) All the apostles ? Probably at the time of his ascension (Acts 1:6-11). (6) To Paul ? Last of all he appeared to me ? this appearance to Paul occurred several years after the resurrection (Acts 9:1-8). The one abnormally born ? it simply means that he was not part of the original group of apostles. He had not lived with Christ as the others had. His entry into the apostolic office was not normal.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is an undeniable fact of history. And that?s not just anyone?s opinion. That was the opinion of Dr. Simon Greenleaf, the greatest authority on legal evidence of the nineteenth century. In fact, he was the famous Royal Professor of law at Harvard and was directly responsible for the school?s rise to eminence among American law schools. After being prompted by his students into examining the evidence for the resurrection, Greenleaf suggested that any cross-examination of the eyewitness testimonies recorded in Scripture would result in ?an undoubting conviction of their integrity, ability, and truth.? Dr. Greenleaf not only became a Christian, but in 1846 wrote a defense of the resurrection titled, An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered in the Court of Justice.
2. Our preaching is based on the fact of Resurrection (vv. 12-19).
We preach Christ who died, buried and rose again. There were some in the Corinthian Church who said, ?there is no resurrection of the dead.? He says, ?If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.? He gives seven arguments to show that the resurrection of Christ and the resurrection of the believer?s body are inseparable truths. Paul argues that if the believer?s body is not to be raised: (1) Then Christ is not risen; (2) All preaching is useless, for there is no Gospel apart from the resurrection of Christ; (3) Paul and all the apostles were false witnesses; (4) Our faith is in vain; (5) We are all still in our sins; (6) The dead in Christ have perished; and (7) Christians are the most miserable people on earth.
Why do we preach the fact of Christ?s resurrection? The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the greatest tour de force in the annals of history. Through the resurrection, Jesus demonstrated that He does not stand in a line of peers with Buddha, Mohammed, or many other founders of a world religion. All of them died and are still dead, but Christ is risen and is still alive. The resurrection is the very capstone in the arch of Christianity. If it is removed, all else crumbles. It is the singular doctrine which elevated Christianity above all the pagan religions of the ancient Mediterranean world.
3. Our future is confirmed on the fact of Resurrection (Vv.20-28)
Resurrection of Christ is a guarantee of the believer?s bodily resurrection. Christ who has been raised is the guarantee of the resurrection of all of God?s redeemed people (1Thess. 4:13-18). 2 Timothy 2:11-12 says, ?If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. One of the major facts supporting the resurrection of Christ is the empty tomb. Jesus? tomb was empty because he was resurrected. Various theories have emerged against this fact: one is wrong tomb theory ? The tomb was empty because the disciples went to the wrong tomb. Another one is called fraud theory ? the disciples stole Jesus? body and led the whole world to believe that Jesus was risen. All our evidence goes show that there was no thought of resurrection in the minds of the disciples, and they were men without any hope. They were hiding somewhere out of fear of the Jews on the evening of the first Good Friday. Moreover Matthew tells us that a guard was set over the tomb of Jesus. Even the enemies of Christ admitted that the tomb was empty. The record shows that they even attempted to bribe the guards to say the body had been stolen (Matt 28:11-15). If the Jewish leaders had stolen the body, they could have later openly displayed it to prove that Jesus had not risen from the dead. Although many flawed theories have been formulated over the years, the fact of the empty tomb has never been refuted.
Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. Death came through a man, that is, Adam. The resurrection of the dead comes also through a man, the second Adam, ?the last Adam, that is, Jesus Christ. All who are in Adam suffer death, but all who are in Christ will be made alive at the resurrection. Christ, the first fruit, was raised in his own time in history, and those who are identified with Him by faith will be raised at his second coming. His resurrection is the pledge that ours will follow. At the end Jesus will hand over the Kingdom to God after destroying all dominion, authority and power. Finally Christ will destroy the last enemy-death. We all will be resurrected and there is no more death. The resurrection reminds us of our position in Christ, and refreshes our prospect of being with Him and like Him. Our future hope of resurrection is sure because Jesus has already been resurrected from the dead. We will have a resurrected body ? a glorified body. The resurrected bodies will be visible and tangible, but not subject to the laws of nature like our present bodies. Rather, they will be subject to the laws of the Spirit. It will be like that of Christ?s body after the resurrection (Luke 24:39).
4. Our present life is rooted on the fact of Resurrection (29-34)
Life finds its meaning in the fact of resurrection. People will be able to live in the light of their future resurrection. Paul asks, what is the use of baptism if there is no resurrection? It is because we were baptized in anticipation of the resurrection of the dead. If there is no resurrection, people will not be able to plan for their life. They will be like people who say, ?Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.? If there is no resurrection, why should we suffer persecution and hardship for Christ every day? Doubting or denying the resurrection of Christ is a sin which has a negative effect on the lives of people.
Resurrection brings transformation in the lives of people. Look at Jesus? disciples before his crucifixion? their hopes were shattered and broken. They expected Jesus to establish his earthly kingdom. They never expected their Messiah to suffer and die. They were disappointed and discouraged. Look at them after Jesus? resurrection ? They became different in their lives. There was a confidence and certainty in them about their Messiah. Immediately they were sure Jesus was no longer dead. Something happened that convinced them that Jesus was alive. In spite of intense persecution and even cruel deaths they testified to the truth of the resurrection. Not only did the resurrection of Christ transform the disciples from cowards to lions of the faith, but also His resurrection continues to transform lives today. Apostle Paul, in Phil. 3:10, invites us to share the power of His resurrection. He says, ?I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection. Because Christ lives, the Scripture says, we will also live.
The gospel that we received is Christ died, buried, and risen. We take our stand with God on this same gospel.We are dead in our sins, raised with the Lord, and hope for our bodily resurrection. As we live here on earth, let?s continue to experience the power of Christ?s resurrection. Let?s pray that the transforming power of Christ?s resurrection may continue to transform many lives today!