As we enter the Easter season, we’re celebrating not merely a feel-good story but an actual event in history.
In the person of Jesus, God entered our space and time as one of us. He lived, died and returned to life by his own power.
Sometimes it’s hard to believe the Resurrection is real. We don’t see people we know come back to life after death. We don’t hear from them after they depart, at least not in concretely verifiable ways.
Yet the hope of life after death is the central theme of the Christian faith, and that hope is based on the belief that Jesus has been raised from the dead.
“If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins,” Paul writes to the Corinthians. “Then those also who have died in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Cor. 15:17-19).
Indeed, if Jesus did not return to life, the world would be right to mock his followers for dying for him. If Christ has not been raised, Paul asks, “why are we putting ourselves in danger every hour?” (15:30). Why choose to follow Jesus amid such opposition if you didn’t have the certain hope of overcoming death along with him?
The world offers many preachers, rabbis, gurus and philosophers. But Jesus rises far above them all, with the resurrection proving that he alone is God.
Apparently the Corinthians needed this reminder, as well as the admonition: “Come to a sober and right mind, and sin no more; for some people have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame” (15:34).
If the Resurrection isn’t real, we might as well live however we please, Paul says, for tomorrow we die. But since it is real, we should sin no more, that we might participate with Christ in the life to come.
Only if the Resurrection is real can we proclaim: “Death has been swallowed up in victory” (15:54). Only then can we taunt death: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (15:55).
Faith in the Resurrection is what has sustained many believers in the face of death. Reports of early Christian martyrs depict them as joyful, even laughing, during their trials. “How foolish,” they might have thought. “If our persecutors were wise, they would side with Jesus the death-beater instead of against him.”
Surely, they expected to return to life as Jesus had. We believe they will do just that. Will we join them?
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