Just how much does Easter matter?
by John Crotts, Faith Bible Church
Did you hear about the supposed document that was recently discovered that Jesus had a wife?
The document itself seems likely to have been a forgery. But even if it was proved valid, it would only indicate that some people somewhere 350 years after Jesus lived claimed that Jesus had a wife! Let not your hearts be troubled. Every few years a new novel or movie uses the plot line that the bones of Jesus have been discovered. This would be a much bigger deal if such a discovery was ever proved to be true. The implication, of course, would be that Jesus never really rose from the dead bodily as Christianity asserts. How do you think such a discovery would affect your day, week, or life?
You may think that the archaeological find of the millennia, the true bones of Jesus, would not really change much of anything. Actually, to deny the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is to destroy Christianity itself.
If you think that is too strong an assertion, please grab a Bible and find 1 Corinthians 15. Usually, I am able to quote a verse or two within this column and get the point across. This section of Scripture, however, is too long to quote and too good to pass up, so if you have a Bible, please follow along.
The issue in 1 Corinthians 15 is found in the sentence numbered 12 ( or called verse 12), where Paul says that some in Corinth are denying that people will be raised from the dead at the final judgement. Perhaps they were clinging to the ancient Greek philosophy of dualism, which teaches that all matter is bad (like the human body), while all spiritual things are good. After your spirit is released from the prison of your body at death, why would God put you back together in the end?
I do not think that these Corinthians were denying that Jesus was raised from the dead, only that no one else ever would be. Paul, however, exposed the devastating logical implications of their denial. When a stack of dominos is lined up, and one is knocked over, the rest will spill.
From verses 13-19, Paul uncovers seven Christian essentials stripped away by a denial that people will rise from the dead. The first domino to tumble is Jesus’ own resurrection (v. 13). Since Jesus was 100 percent human – in addition to being 100 percent divine, if people are not raised, neither was Jesus. Paul emphasizes this by repeating it in v. 16.
The second essential stripped away is that the content of the apostles’ preaching is empty (v. 14). Like a peanut M&M that is missing the peanut, if Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead, every Bible preacher has been spouting off a hollow message.
The next domino to fall by denying resurrection is that the content of your faith is also empty (v. 14). Just having faith has never been the issue. Your faith only counts if it’s in the right object. If I believe in my 8-year-old son to rescue me from drowning in a stormy sea, I’m in deep trouble no matter how much faith I have in Josiah.
Fourth, the credibility of most of the writers of the New Testament is stripped away if the dead are not raised (v. 15). Every one of those apostles claimed to have seen Jesus Christ literally alive after he had died on the cross. If Jesus did not rise from the dead bodily, they are all big fat liars! The verse actually says they would be misrepresenting God – no small offense.
Another Christian essential that would be stripped away is the forgiveness of sins (v. 17). To put it simply, a dead Jesus can not forgive anybody. If your hope is in a rotting corpse, you are hopeless!
Sixth, your fellow Christians who have died are gone forever if the dead are not raised (v.18). Follow the logic, if the dead aren’t raised, then Jesus wasn’t raised. If Jesus wasn’t raised, then no one is forgiven of his or her sins. If folks aren’t forgiven then God will judge them eternally for their sins.
So all of the loved ones you are counting on seeing again are lost forever, if the dead aren’t raised.
Finally, Paul says if the dead are not raised, Christians are the most pitiful people on earth (v.19). Some think that the Christian kind of life is the best that there is, even if there was no heaven. That’s completely bogus according to Paul! The resurrection is the only thing that makes the Christian life great; if you take that away, then you’d do better to party it up and die (v. 32)!
After such an exhausting examination of the implications of denying that people are resurrected, Paul offers the contrasting truth. With a triumphant sigh of relief we read, “But now Christ has been raised from the dead” (v. 20)!
Because of that glorious Easter message, all of the things stripped from us have been powerfully replaced. Jesus was raised. The eyewitnesses preached a solid and true message that we have trusted in. The apostles’ credibility remains intact.
Our sins have been forgiven. We will see our loved ones again with Jesus when we die. Our lives are well worth living.
Everything would be lost if Jesus’ bones were discovered. But Jesus’ bones cannot be discovered because they are not on the earth. The Bible says that three days after he was executed on the cross, he rose from the dead. Paul establishes this historical fact by giving a list of eyewitness testimonies that would stand up in any law court (1 Corinthians 15:3-8).
After 40 days of appearances, however, Jesus ascended to heaven where he is today on the right hand of God’s throne. His bones will be back on the earth, clothed in his majestic glorified body, when he returns to raise up the saints and judge the world.
This Easter, I hope you will celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ with a full heart of joy. If you do not know Christ, this is a wonderful time to put your trust in him. He died to take away sins, and when he rose again, God affirmed that he had done it successfully.
He offers you forgiveness and a new life, if you trust him with your whole life! Will you do that today?