The correct understanding of the resurrection is of great importance in a day when so many professing Christians differ as to its meaning and worth. We are to contend for the doctrine of Christ (2 John 9) and to separate from those who do not hold to that doctrine. The bodily resurrection of Christ is an indispensable part of the teaching concerning the Son of God. It is a glorious and essential fact. No true born-again believer should be indifferent as to what the Bible declares to be the truth. The Word of God clearly states: “If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:17). The fact that Jesus is God incarnate (made human flesh) requires the resurrection. God cannot be held in death; therefore, “it was not possible that He (Jesus Christ) should be holden of it (death)” (Acts 2:24).
The Testimony of Christ
The indisputable fact of the resurrection can be seen in Christ’s own testimony. Concerning this, Jesus said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day” (Lk. 9:22). Jesus knew not only that He had to die as the sacrifice for the sin of the world, but that He also would be raised again from the grave to reveal this was a work of God.
Through its prophetic and direct statements, the Bible reveals the indisputable fact of Christ’s resurrection. Hundreds of years before the birth of Christ, the psalmist prophesied, “For Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One (Jesus Christ) to see corruption” (Psa. 16:10). This prophecy was literally fulfilled when Christ was raised from the dead. There is no possibility of error in the interpretation of this prophecy. Under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the apostle Peter quoted this Old Testament prophecy in Acts 2:27 and said of the psalmist, “He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that His soul was not left in hell, neither His flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we are all witnesses” (Acts 2:31-32).
The testimony of many individuals who saw the resurrected Christ gives us further undeniable proof of the resurrection: “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures: and that He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: after that, He was seen of above five hundred brethren at once” (1 Cor. 15:3-6). The resurrection is the heart of the gospel message. The apostle Peter preached the resurrection without apology (Acts 10:38-43). Paul, also, was unwavering in his proclamation of this glorious truth (read Acts 17:2-4). These eyewitnesses went out with boldness and joy because they knew that they served a risen Lord who perfectly fulfilled all He had spoken.
The Empty Tomb
Without question, the empty tomb shows that Christ rose bodily from the grave: “And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay” (Matt 28:5-6). This was not merely a “spiritual resurrection,” nor was it thievery or trickery; Christ had risen bodily as He had said. His own words in John 2:18-22 confirm this fact that He rose bodily from the grave. In verse 19, Christ says, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” In verse 21, this temple mentioned by Jesus is clearly “the temple of His body.” The disciples remembered this discourse after Jesus was risen and, therefore, accepted Christ’s bodily resurrection as fact (v. 22). The fact of the resurrection is established by Scripture itself. As Bible believers, we can rest in this blessed truth and contend boldly with any who would attempt to discredit this historical account. To the believer, the resurrection means so much. Because Jesus Christ rose from the grave, certain blessings and promises are afforded to those who have entrusted their souls to the living Savior.
The resurrection proves that Christ’s sacrificial payment for sin—our sin—was accepted by God the Father. Jesus Christ shed His blood as the payment for our sin: “And He is the propitiation (wrath-removing sacrifice) for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 Jn. 2:2). The perfect sacrifice was offered in our behalf, and any lost sinner is justified, or made right with God, by trusting in Jesus Christ’s precious blood thus shed on Calvary’s cross (1 Pet. 1:18-19). In Romans 4:25, God’s Word states, “Who (Jesus) was delivered from our offenses, and was raised again for our justification.” We are justified by faith in His shed blood. God the Son was raised again because God the Father had accepted the Lord Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection as the perfect and only basis for our justification.
The resurrection shows that the Lord has the power to give life to those who believe: “And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam (Jesus Christ) was made a quickening spirit” (1 Cor. 15:45). The assertion of this Scripture is that Jesus Christ has the ability to “quicken” or to “make alive.” In the gospel of John, the Savior declares, “For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom He will” (Jn. 5:21). We see, therefore, the resurrected Savior is the One who has this life-giving power. Today, He imparts life to all who believe on Him alone. “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name” (Jn. 1:12).
The resurrection also assures us of the power needed to live a victorious Christian life. God’s Word says, “And what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead” (Eph. 1:19-20). There will never be a trial too great, any burden too heavy, or any temptation too strong that cannot be met with the power of the Spirit of the resurrected Christ within. The same power that raised up Jesus is available to all who believe. As we learn to trust Him more and ourselves less, He will be able to display His mighty power in and through us. 1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Corinthians 4:7.
Pattern for the Future
Finally, the resurrection reveals the pattern of what lies ahead for the believer. Christ is the firstfruits, that is, the firstborn from the dead. He was resurrected from the grave, and the promise is, then, that we will be raised in like manner. “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:20-22). Because Christ arose, all who are His shall, at His appearing, receive new, resurrection bodies (see Phil. 3:20-21). Whether living or dead, “we shall all be changed” (1 Cor. 15:51). What a blessed future is in store for all who place their trust in the resurrected Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ—everlasting life!
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a glorious fact. Jesus Christ lives today! He imparts life to lost souls who believe the gospel message. He empowers believers to live victorious Christian lives. Do you know the risen Lord as your personal Savior? He died to pay the penalty for your sins. He arose victorious from the grave! Trust Him as your Savior today! This is the gospel, the “good news”!
— Pastor Dennis Costella (1948-2011)