The death and resurrection of Jesus form the cornerstone of the Christian faith. Jesus prophesied that the religious leaders of his day would crucify him. At the same time, he also predicted he would rise from the dead on the third day. The fact that Jesus Christ rose from the dead proved his ability to give us new life in God.
In 1 Corinthians 15:14, Paul writes that the gospel and the Christian faith would be useless if Jesus didn't come back from the dead. All the preaching and miracles Jesus performed would've been for nothing. The resurrection of Jesus Christ provides restoration for all Christians. This good news gives us hope for our past, present, and future.
The Resurrection of Jesus
The 15th chapter of 1 Corinthians describes the gospel Christians believe today.
- Jesus died for our sins: Sin separates us from a holy God. In the past, we could only approach a holy God by confessing our sins and sacrificing a perfect animal on an altar. Christ lived a perfect life, free from sin, although he faced temptation like we do. Other religious leaders of the time believed he was wrong in his claims about being the Son of God. As a result, they planned to crucify him on a cross. Crucifixion is one of the most brutal forms of punishment that has ever existed. Judas betrayed Jesus by telling the religious leaders where they could find him. After the Passover, the religious leaders arrested, beat, and tortured Jesus. They hung him on a cross, and he died within a couple of hours. Since Jesus lived a perfect life, he could then offer himself to be a sacrifice for the sins of all people. The death of Christ tore the veil between God and us, so we can now approach the throne of grace with boldness.
- Jesus was buried: When Jesus breathed his last breath, Joseph of Arimathea put the body in a tomb on his property. The government officials rolled a large, heavy stone at the mouth of the grave. They were afraid the disciples would steal the body and claim Jesus rose from the dead. A guard stood at the mouth of the tomb, so no one could come and move the stone.
- Jesus rose again on the third day: We observe the crucifixion of Jesus on Friday and the resurrection on Easter Sunday. Jesus died on Friday afternoon and rose on Sunday morning. He rolled the heavy stone away from the tomb. An earthquake shook the ground and paralyzed the guards. On the third day, a group of women went to visit the tomb. They noticed that the stone was gone, and the grave was empty. An angel came to them and said, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here. He has risen!"
- Jesus appeared to Peter and the other apostles: The four gospels each describe Jesus revealing his presence to his disciples after he rose from the dead. According to 1 Corinthians 15:6, Jesus appeared to a total of 500 people. These people serve as witnesses for his gospel when he ascends to heaven. The ascended Jesus even appeared to Paul while Paul was on the road to Damascus to legalize the imprisonment of Christians.
The Prophecies That the Resurrection Fulfilled
Jesus' life — his birth, his miracles, his crucifixion, and his resurrection — wasn't a brand-new idea in the New Testament. Prophets had predicted the coming of Christ for thousands of years before he walked among us. Jesus himself even declared that he would suffer crucifixion and would rise to life on the third day.
These Bible passages from the Old Testament point to the coming Messiah, the one who would redeem us from our sins.
- Genesis 3:15: "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel." This verse is the first mention of a savior in the Bible. After Adam and Eve commit the first sin, God curses them as a punishment for what they've done. He also curses the serpent who deceives them into sinning. In what seems like the same breath, God offers a promise of redemption from their fallen nature. In this passage from Genesis, God promises that the savior of the world, the one who will defeat sin, will come from a woman. This savior would crush the head of the enemy, destroying temptation and sin once and for all.
- Job 19:25-26: "I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end, he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh, I will see God." In the Old Testament, a man named Job suffered a tremendous loss at the hand of the adversary. In this passage, he prophesies that there is a redeemer who will advocate for him after death. No matter how horrible his circumstances are here on earth, he has hope that life in the resurrection will be better. In John 5:24-29, the redeemer Jesus predicts that the dead will find life again in him.
- Psalm 16:9-10: "Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay." In this psalm, King David prays for deliverance from his enemies. He trusts that God can and will deliver him. Even though David's situation is terrifying and even life-threatening, David knows that God will never abandon his people. David wanted God to save him, not only from physical danger, but also from death itself. This passage also points to the Messiah, who would save all people from destruction. The phrase "your faithful one" is a Messianic term reserved only for Jesus. The power of God allows Jesus to conquer death, even while suffering a death as brutal as a crucifixion. During his speech after Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended onto the earth, Peter mentions this psalm to describe the resurrection of Christ.
- Psalm 68:18: "When you ascended on high, you took many captives; you received gifts from people, even from the rebellious — that you, Lord God, might dwell there." Jesus came to earth to redeem us from our sins and to show us the right way to live. After he completed his mission, Jesus ascended to heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father. In Ephesians 4:7-16, Paul describes the spiritual gifts that the Holy Spirit gives us. The fact that Jesus ascended means that he descended to earth to reveal himself to us. God dwells with us through the Holy Spirit because of the gifts among the community of believers.
- Isaiah 25:7-8: "On this mountain, he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The Lord has spoken." Pastors read this passage at funerals to give hope to those who lose loved ones. The resurrection of Jesus shows us that death isn't the end. There is a life after the one we live now. In 1 Corinthians 15:54, Paul writes about our imperishable bodies that we will take on when we die. We will have glorified bodies, just as Christ came back to earth with the same body he had before the crucifixion. While most people fear the end, we have hope that we will be alive with Christ after we die.
- Isaiah 53:9-12: "After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge, my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors." The entire chapter of Isaiah 53 prophesies the life of Jesus. This passage talks about his crucifixion and his resurrection. Since he has atoned for the sin of the whole world, God has raised him to new life.
Besides these Old Testament prophecies, Jesus also prophesies his resurrection.
- Matthew 16:21: "From that time on, Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life."
- Matthew 17:22-23: "When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, 'The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.' And the disciples were filled with grief."
- John 2:19-21: "Jesus answered them, 'Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.' They replied, 'It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?' But the temple he had spoken of was his body."
Why Is the Resurrection of Jesus Important?
1. The Resurrection Proves Jesus Is the Messiah
When people asked Jesus for a sign that he was the Messiah, the only indication he would give was the prophet, Jonah. Jonah spent three days in the belly of a giant fish. Jesus told the crowd asking for a sign that he would spend three days in the ground.
After spending three days in the grave and rising from the dead, Jesus proved that his claims were valid. All the miracles he performed were an act of God. Jesus is the Son of God, since he fulfilled all the prophecies about himself from the Old Testament.
2. The Resurrection Is Physical
When Jesus rose from the dead and revealed himself to the Apostles, he had a physical body. Most people today believe that only our spirit goes to heaven when we die. The resurrection of Christ proves that we will also have physical bodies when we go to heaven.
Paul tells us that we will have imperishable, glorified bodies free from sickness. When Jesus died for us, God's plan was to redeem both our spirits and our bodies. When we die, we take part in the redemption of the earth, a world freed from sin.
3. The Resurrection Gives Us Hope for When We Die
God set eternity in our hearts, so he created us to yearn for an afterlife with a restored world. The resurrection of Jesus showed us the way we would go to heaven. We will have redeemed bodies, and like Job, our flesh will see God.
People have different ideas about where their loved ones go when they die. Are they watching over us, or are they somewhere far from here? If you have a loved one who has died, you can have hope that you will see them again in the afterlife.
4. The Resurrection Sets Us Free From Our Sins
In 1 Corinthians 15:17, Paul writes that if there's no resurrection from the dead, we are still dead to our sins. Jesus is the spotless lamb of God, who has the power to remove our sin. His work on the cross was incomplete until he rose from the dead.
The resurrection of Christ proved the power of God to free us from our sins. We can now approach the throne of grace with the assurance that God loves and has saved us.
5. The Resurrection Showed Jesus Had Risen Back to Life
Jesus appeared to 500 people after he rose from the dead. These people spoke about this news because they were witnesses of this miracle. Some of them were killed or imprisoned for their beliefs.
If the resurrection didn't happen, all the so-called witnesses were liars. What reason would people have to die for false hope? The resurrection would have to be real for them to give their lives for it.
6. The Ascension Invites the Promised Holy Spirit
After the resurrection, Jesus ascended to heaven. Why is the ascension miraculous? If Jesus didn't rise from the dead and ascend to heaven, the Holy Spirit would never have come to the earth. Romans 8:11 says that the same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in us now. Because of the ascension of Jesus, we can live in resurrection power for the rest of eternity.
What Does the Resurrection of Christ Mean for You?
The resurrection of Christ gives all who believe in him the power of eternal life. John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have eternal life." We have new life in Christ because of the power of God to overcome death.
The resurrection of Christ provides hope for the future of every believer. If you have more questions about this miracle and how it affects your relationship with God, give Cornerstone Church a call at 415-861-2439.