Every religion of the world looks to a religious leader as its founder. At first glance, many see Christianity as no different, pointing to Jesus as a great moral teacher who urged his followers to love and do good. Such a claim is incomplete as it mischaracterizes Jesus’ ministry and ultimately ignores the foundation upon which Christianity sits: Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. No other religion of the world has such a shocking claim as it’s core. Why is Jesus’ resurrection important?
First, the resurrection validates Jesus’ claims. Every religion is based on human attempts to reach God, enlightenment, or heaven. Yet the Bible teaches regardless of best efforts, every person has sinned and fallen short of God’s perfection (Romans 3:23; 6:23). The resulting separation from God, the source of life, is why every person experiences a broken world, and ultimately, death. But God reached down to mankind and literally took on flesh in the person of Jesus Christ in order to bring mankind back to himself (John 1). Jesus not only healed the sick, stopped storms, and raised the dead. He asserted there is no life and no hope for restoration/resurrection apart from him. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). Jesus claimed he would be killed and raised to life (Matthew 16:21-23; Mark 9:31; 10:33-34; John 2:18-22). C.S. Lewis noted Jesus’ resurrection proves he was no liar or lunatic, but who he claimed to be: Lord.
Second, the resurrection is the basis for hope of eternal life. People everywhere long for immortality, as evidenced by shrines, statues, pictures, stories, and even our own attempts to battle the aging process. No matter how much effort one exerts to remain healthy and beautiful, or how much money someone has or spends, death will come. Jesus’ resurrection means death is not the final word. Through the cross Jesus conquered our sin by taking the penalty upon himself that we deserve. Through the empty tomb Jesus conquered the painful result of sin: death. The “sting” of death is removed for all who look to Jesus in faith (1 Corinthians 15:54). Jesus’ physical, bodily resurrection is important. His resurrection reveals God’s plan to completely restore all things. The Bible teaches that one day Jesus will bodily return and make all things new, including giving a new physical, resurrected heavenly body to every Christian (John 6:35-40; 1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17).
Last, the resurrection of Jesus is the only sure foundation to build your life upon. Jesus appeared bodily to his disciples and to many others (John 20-21 and 1 Corinthians 15:3-9). They saw him, touched him, ate with him, and gave their lives attesting to Jesus’ resurrection. Of the twelve original disciples, Judas hanged himself and John is believed to have died from natural causes in old age. The others, however, suffered greatly for their faith, and in most cases were brutally killed as a result of their bold witness. Some dismiss their deaths by comparing them to religious fanatics who sincerely (and wrongly) believe their delusions. But there is a difference between dying for sincerely believing a lie, and dying for a known lie. Those disciples did not die for a claim they knew was false, but for what they had personally experienced and knew was true. Jesus’ death and resurrection was the good news that was spread from the beginning (Acts 13:32-33, 17:2-3). In 1 John 5:11-12 we read “whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” Jesus did not come to make bad people good, but to make dead people come to life. Do you believe?