“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus” (I Thessalonians 4:14).
If Jesus really did rise from the dead as Scripture claims and Christians hold, then nothing is the same and everything has changed forever.
The reason Christians are positively giddy about the Easter Event–the resurrection of Jesus–is that in walking out of that tomb and leaving it forever empty, He broke the stranglehold in which death had held humanity.
We are free. We are free forever. We are free to live forever.
It doesn’t get any better than this.
Everything stands or falls on whether Jesus rose from the dead that first Easter Sunday morning.
The resurrection of Jesus was Heaven’s imprimatur on Jesus’s ministry, the Father’s validation of Jesus’ every claim, eternity’s “amen” to Jesus’ promises, and convincing evidence that Jesus Christ is everything He said He was.
Prove that He did not rise, that His body is still lying in some grave somewhere, and you will have put a stop to the entire Christian movement. Thereafter, the few remaining followers of the Man of Galilee would form themselves into a Jesus Memorial Society. Not long before they stopped meeting altogether, they would quit writing “Man of Galilee” and “He” in all caps.
Even the most notorious atheist, adamantly opposed even to the idea that Jesus could have risen from the dead, would concede that if indeed it did happen, it was a game-changer from that moment on.
The ultimate game-changer. Nothing would ever be the same.
A new reality. That’s what it was.
It’s why Christians are filling the churches this Easter Sunday to celebrate the ever-new always-exciting reality: Christ is Risen, and we will be right along behind Him.
He is the first-fruits, Scripture says. We come next.
Historians love to write about “What if this thing had not happened?” or “That thing had happened differently?” They’ve included Jesus in their “what-ifs” and looked into how history might have been different had He not died on a cross but lived to a ripe old age. The bottom line ends up as something like “your guess is as good as mine.” But one question not included in these “what-if” articles is the resurrection: “What if Jesus had not risen from the grave?” Obviously, even to raise the question is to concede the point that He is up and a-loose and around, and the secularists would die before stipulating that.
To admit that Jesus is risen is the ultimate game-changer.
And that’s why the secular mind balks at the idea, rejecting it out-of-hand as impossible before even considering the possibility.
The Apostle Paul, as smart a man as ever persecuted the Christian church and a staunch proclaimer of the gospel and defender of the faith after the risen Christ captured him, considers this very thing in his epistle to the Corinthians (I Cor. 15:12-19). “What if Jesus is not risen from the grave?”
- Then, our preaching is empty.
- Your faith is pointless.
- We are false witnesses of God.
- You are deceived.
- You are still in your sins.
- The dead in Christ are dead, period.
- We are of all men most miserable.
“But now,” Paul says after this tiny morsel of reverie, “Christ is risen from the dead and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (I Corinthians 15:20).
Elsewhere, he wrote, “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again”–a huge IF which everyone should investigate–“even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus” (I Thessalonians 4:14).
That’s why some hate the idea and refuse to even consider whether Jesus rose. They say, “This is impossible, therefore it didn’t happen.” We smile at such circular reasoning, but grieve at the way otherwise brilliant people allow themselves to lose out on the most blessed event of the entire existence of this small planet.
If Jesus is risen from the dead, nothing is the same as it was.
“O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?” (I Corinthians 15:55)