What does the historicity of Jesus rising from death three days after being crucified have to do with us today? The apostle Paul, when writing in the New Testament states, “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your [Christians’] faith is in vain.” Why would it be so crucial that if Jesus did not rise from death than it would negate the faith of billions around the world?
The answer is that a dead God is no God at all. This is one of the crucial distinctions that set’s Christianity apart from every other religion in the world. Apart from them never claiming to actually be god, Siddhartha Gautama Buda, Krishna, Muhammad, Laozi, Confucius, Pythagoras, Mozi, Epicurus and Zeno of Citium are still buried in the ground. In fact, millions of people around the world travel across the globe to visit their graves and pay respect to the founder of their respective religions. Christians, on the other hand, have speculations as to where Jesus’ borrowed grave might have been, but no one really knows for sure because he was only buried in it for three days.
Only 20 years after Jesus physically rose from death and ascended into heaven, Paul wrote to the very people who were still alive after the Son of God was executed. Paul says, “Then he [Jesus] appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive..”. It was just an understood fact that he had risen from the dead and walked around on earth for 40 days. No one questioned that it had happened because you could just walk up to someone on the street and talk about their conversation that they had with Jesus post death.
For us, the resurrection also has great significance for how we live our lives today. If you are a Christian, it shows what exactly will happen to you when you die one day. One moment you will close your eyes, and the next you will be resurrected to new life in the presence of God Almighty. 2 Corinthians 4.14 says, “… knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.” Just as Jesus rose, so too will we follow in his footsteps and rise.
It also shows our justification, or having been legally made right with God. If you have faith in Jesus and believe that he lived a perfect life on your behalf, was killed and raised to new life, you have peace that your sin was buried with him in the ground and is not remembered by God anymore. In my own life, I find myself wanting to ask for forgiveness for stuff I did months or even years ago. Of course God knows all things, but in a sense when you continually come to God with sins you did in the past that have already been forgiven of by Jesus, no matter how heinous, God in effect replies, “What are you talking about? I don’t remember that!” Psalm 103.12 says, “as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. So we can have peace that the past is the past, our sins are completely forgiven, and then we move forward to what is ahead in life.
Finally, because of the resurrection we can look forward to what our physical bodies will be like in heaven. The Bible says that we will not decay or get old, we will have physical attractiveness and stunning beauty, and we will also have incredible strength. Imagine what this means for those who have been handicapped their whole life or those who suffer with chronic pain. Maybe this is not too far of a stretch and you suffer with this yourself. Well, there is coming a day when all things will return to what they were originally created to be and all things will be made right.
The very last book of the Bible, when speaking of what heaven will be like upon our resurrection states, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, either shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” How great a day that will be!