Suppose that Jesus, having died on the cross, had stayed dead. Suppose that he was now no more than a beautiful memory. Would it matter? We would still have his example and teaching; but would they be enough?
Jesus’ Rising is Crucial
Had Jesus not risen, but stayed dead, the bottom would drop out of Christianity, for four things would then be true.
First, to quote Paul, 1 Corinthians 15:17: “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still mired in your sins.”
Second, there is then no hope of our being raised to heaven either; therefore we must expect to stay dead.
Third, if Jesus Christ is not risen, then he is not reigning and will not return and every single item in the Creed after “suffered and was buried” will have to be struck out.
Fourth, Christianity would not be what the first Christians thought it was—fellowship with a living Lord who is identical with the Jesus of the Gospels. The Jesus of the Gospels could still be your hero, but he could not be your Savior.
If Jesus would not have risen then everything would change. There would be no getting to heaven which leaves us with no hope for a glorious afterlife. With no hope in our future we would be lost and society would turn to turmoil the world over.
A Fact of History
To show that it views Jesus’ resurrection as a fact of history, the Creed actually gives the time—“the third day,” counting inclusively (the ancients’ way) from the day when Jesus was “crucified under Pontius Pilate” on Thursday, 14 Nisan 3790 on the Jewish calendar (April 3, 30 A.D. Gregorian calendar). Then 3 days later on Saturday which was the beginning of Sunday, 17 Nisan 3790 at sundown which was three full days after Jesus death He arose from the grave (remember the Jewish day started at sundown each day). On that precise day, in Jerusalem, in the capital of Palestine, Jesus came alive and vacated a rock tomb, and death was conquered for all time.
Can we be sure it happened? The evidence is solid. The tomb was empty, and nobody could produce the body. Then for more than a month (40 days to be exact) after the rock over the front of Jesus’ tomb was found rolled away, the disciples kept meeting Jesus– alive, always unexpectedly, He also met with groups from two to 500. Hallucinations don’t happen this way! This was real.
The disciples, for their part, were sure that the risen Christ was no fancy, and tirelessly proclaimed his rising in face of ridicule, persecution, and even death—a most effective way of getting rid of the malicious rumor that they stole Jesus’ body (cf. Matthew 28:11–15).
The corporate experience of the Christian church over nineteen centuries chimes in with the belief that Jesus arose, for the risen Lord truly “walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way,” and communion with him belongs to the basic Christian awareness of reality.
No sense can be made of any of this evidence except by supposing that Jesus really arose. The actual historical effect is inconceivable without the resurrection of Jesus as its objective historical cause.
The truth is 40 days after Jesus arose from the grave on earth, Jesus was raised to heaven by God and thus:
- Our sins were forgiven.
- We can expect to be raised just like Jesus
- Jesus Christ was raised, he is reigning and will return to earth and every single item in the Creed is true.
- Christianity is what the first Christians thought it was—fellowship with a living Lord who is identical with the Jesus of the Gospels. The Jesus of the Gospels can still be your hero, and he is your Savior.
Facing the Evidence
A Christian in a public debate accused his skeptical opponent of having more faith than he—“for,” he said, “in face of the evidence, I can’t believe that Jesus did not rise, and you can!” It really is harder to disbelieve the resurrection than it is to accept it, much harder. Have you yet seen it that way?
To believe in Jesus Christ as Son of God and living Savior, and to echo the words of ex-doubter Thomas (a disciple), “My Lord and my God,” is certainly more than an exercise of reason, but in the face of the evidence it is the only reasonable thing a person can do.
What Jesus’ Rising Means
What is the significance of Jesus’ rising? In a word, it spelled out Jesus as the Son of God (Romans 1:4); it vindicated his righteousness (John 16:10); it demonstrated victory over death (Acts 2:24); it guaranteed the believer’s forgiveness and justification (1 Corinthians 15:17; Romans 4:25), and his own future resurrection too (1 Corinthians 15:18); and it brings him into the reality of resurrection life now (Romans 6:4). Marvelous! You could speak of Jesus’ rising from the grave as the most hopeful—hope-full—thing that has ever happened—and you would be right!
The work of God at salvation in identifying a believer with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection—thus separating him from sin’s power and giving him a new quality of life—is the basis of the Holy Spirit’s continuing work in sanctification and the believers glorious gain.
Hearts can be renewed by Jesus. Christ can make a heart strong. God can create a new clean heart. The Lord can cleanse the heart and renew its spirit.
Please remember that if we have any hope in our Lord and Savior who gave us “everything” we must be continually faithful to the Lord, first. Remember, God loved us first, even before He created us.
God is testing us every day and has given us the right to make our own choices. Do you know which ones are the right choices in Gods mind?
Fear God, love God, honor God, and trust God with all your heart, mind and soul and you will receive and experience the joy of the promises of God’s blessings in His time.
Prayer: Father in heaven, I praise You for Your Son and the Holy Spirit. I praise You for Your grace in sending us Your wisdom about Jesus and “The third day.” What a blessing it is to understand the importance of Jesus resurrection and being raised into heaven to sit at Your right hand. It gives us great hope. Please bless all those who have read this article for they too are seeking Your righteous truth, love, wisdom and understanding.
May God, Jesus, The Holy Spirit and Christianity be our guiding lights, our safety nets and our inspiration for loving happiness in all of Your kingdom. Father into your hands I commend my spirit. Not my will, but Yours be done. Please come Lord Jesus.
I pray in Jesus sweet name and to His glory through the power of the Holy Spirit,