“For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.” 1 Cor. 15:16-18
This month we celebrate the joyous celebration of Easter! It is the highest festival day in Christianity. As we finish our Lenten Season, we eagerly look forward to that Easter Sunday.
But why? So what?
What is Easter all about? Hopefully, most church goers know that the celebration is about the resurrection. On that first Easter, our Lord, Jesus, who was crucified to death on Friday, was alive on Sunday! He had risen from the grave, and He appeared to the women, to His disciples, and to many others.
But what does that have to do with anything? So what?
I think we all understand that resurrections are miraculous, and that people don’t simply come back to life on the third day after they were pronounced and confirmed dead, and buried in a tomb. This certainly is a miraculous thing that has happened. Surely it confirms that this Jesus, who was crucified, is indeed God!
But what does it have to do with me? In the words of Luther’s Small Catechism, “What Does This Mean?”
Unfortunately, many people don’t understand the purpose of the resurrection of Jesus, even many Christians. Hopefully we understand that Jesus rose from the dead bodily, but sometimes we fail to make the connection between Christ’s resurrection and our own lives. Hopefully we get the connection between our own lives and Christ’s death on the cross. We understand that He died to pay for our sins. He died that we might be forgiven of all of our sins. That’s Good Friday. But what about Easter?
What does Christ’s victory over that tomb that enveloped Him have to do with us?
First, it is important that we realize that without the resurrection we have no Christianity. You cannot take away the resurrection and still have our religion. Christianity is not based on moral behavior or precepts for living, though those are part of our Christian faith. Rather, Christianity is based solely on this one historical event. If this event didn’t happen, there is no Christianity! St. Paul says, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:17).
In a recent debate between a Christian who believes in creation and an atheist who believes in evolution, the atheist asked the question, “Is there anything that could change your mind regarding Christianity?” The Christian said, “No!”
But as Christians, there is one thing that could change our minds regarding the truth claims of Christianity: The body of Jesus of Nazareth still dead!
If Jesus has not risen, there is no Christianity. St. Paul says, “our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Cor. 15:14).
Of course, the Good News is that “in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor. 15:20).
He has risen! And this is fact! All of the evidence points to only this conclusion. Christ has been raised from the dead. It is not just the word of a few witnesses, but rather He appeared to more than 500 men and women. The tomb was empty, and neither the Sanhedrin or the Roman government, or anyone since then, have been able to produce anything contrary to the resurrection.
But you might still ask, so what? What does it mean for me personally?
This is what I want us to remember this Easter season, and every season of our lives:
We face death all the day long in this life. We face our own mortality. We face the death of those that we love, or others throughout this world that are tragically killed or dying because of sin in this world. Where is the hope for those people?
The hope is found in Christ. He has risen! And death has been swallowed up in victory! For all who believe in Christ, death in this world does not have the final word. You too will rise! You will be resurrected on the last day, and you will stand in the flesh with the Lord for all eternity.
His resurrection means your resurrection! Happy Easter! He has risen! He has risen, indeed! Alleluia!
Pastor Joe Dapelo