• The Explore the Bible lesson for Feb. 16 focuses on John 20:15-23, 26-29.
I always have found the resurrection more difficult to explain than the crucifixion.
I do not find it hard to talk about the reality of the event, but rather to help people fully understand its significance. Even though resurrection itself is a concept some people have difficulty accepting, the evidence to support the raising of Christ from the dead is more than sufficient for its acceptance as truth. However, we need to do a better job discussing the significance of Christ rising from the dead.
When we talk about the gospel, we tend to highlight the sinfulness of mankind and God’s remedy for our sin problem. Christ died in our place, as a substitute for us. He took what we deserved and instead of paying for own sin, we are able to go free. Grace is free to all, but it did not come cheap. Christ paid for our freedom with his very life. It’s basic logic: A price had to be paid, and Christ willingly sacrificed himself for us.
The resurrection, on the other hand, always is mentioned when we share the gospel but rarely explained, especially its significance. However, Paul told us in 1 Corinthians 15:19—in regard to Christ’s resurrection, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.”
In other words, if Christ did not rise from the dead, then there is no point to our believing in him for eternal life, and we might as well do something else with our lives besides follow him. So, the empty tomb is as much a part of the story of redemption as the cross itself. Let’s explore a few reasons for this.
Our Savior lives
The resurrection is important because it sets Christianity apart from all other religions. Other faiths worship or adhere to the teachings of someone long dead and gone. The fact Christ has been raised means we actually have the privilege of knowing our Savior in a very real and intimate relationship. While people of other religions can visit the gravesites of their fallen leaders, we have the privilege of celebrating an empty tomb.
Jesus Christ made many claims about himself as he walked this earth. He clearly claimed to be the Son of God and to be God! He claimed he could forgive sin and offer everlasting life. He even told his disciples and others about his resurrection—though they were mentally and emotionally unable to process the information. There had been others who had come through Jerusalem claiming to be the messiah and who had garnered a following. How do we know the claims Christ made about himself were true? What made him different from all the others? His resurrection. It is the greatest proof Jesus was who he claimed to be. In addition, it also proved he could deliver on what he had promised. Assurance of power
What could be more difficult than rising from the dead? Absolutely nothing. The resurrection of Christ was an event that demonstrated the amazing power of God. What God did in raising Christ from the dead, he is willing to do in our lives. Whatever we need in order to overcome the obstacles we face, God has promised to supply.
It is helpful to pause and reflect on our lives. What are our current struggles? What doubts haunt us? What temptations seem overwhelming? Jesus Christ promised we would be able to overcome setbacks. He did so in great passages of Scripture, such as John 16:33: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
How do we know we can trust Christ to help us conquer our fears and temptations? Even if he loves us completely, how can we know he actually has the power to help us? We can have full assurance of these truths because God’s power was on complete display in Christ’s resurrection.
No fear in dying
The final point of significance in regard to the resurrection comes in relation to eternal life. Hebrews 2:14-15 shows us conquering our fear of death was one of Christ’s main missions in coming to Earth: “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”
Christ’s death paid the price for our sin debt, but his resurrection also is an important factor in removing our fear of death. Because Christ was raised from the dead, we can have the assurance our own resurrection will take place. As we look back to the passage in 1 Corinthians 15, we find this verse, “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (v. 20)
Christ’s being the “firstfruit” means not only is he the first of those who have been or will be resurrected, it also means his rising is a guarantee of our own resurrection. Therefore, followers of Christ have no reason to fear death. Death has become something we can celebrate because we know our loved one has begun enjoying their eternal reward.
There are many reasons to celebrate the resurrection of Christ from the dead. His rising is an integral part of the redemption story. Let’s commit to doing a better job of explaining its significance to those around us who have not yet become followers of Christ.