I Corinthians 15:17-26
Today, we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Typically, we look at one of the famous passages in the gospels about that Sunday morning. We are all familiar with that narrative about the women going to the tomb where they find the boulder that was covering the entrance miraculously rolled away, Jesus’ graveclothes still there but not the body, and the angel telling the women that Jesus has risen and is no longer in the grave.
Instead of rehashing this story, let us look at what the resurrection means, as well as what it would mean if it did not happen.
When I first heard the story about Jesus, it stood out to me that two miracles were claimed for Him – One at the beginning of His life, and one at the end of His life. The first was the miracle of the virgin birth, where Mary becomes pregnant without having sexual relations with a man. The second was the resurrection. Back then, it was easier for me to believe the miraculous birth than the resurrection.
After all, there have been documented asexual births in nature, but no other instances of someone dying on Friday and coming back to life on Sunday. There have been occurrences where someone dies for a few minutes and comes back to life, but that is more like a revival than a resurrection.
It turns out, the resurrection is the key to Christianity. Without the resurrection of Jesus, Christianity falls apart.
A few times during His ministry, Jesus told His disciples that He will be captured, tried and executed, and then rise on the third day. If Jesus stayed dead and was not resurrected, then this would mean either Jesus was lying, wrong or crazy. It also could mean that somehow, Jesus failed in His mission and God abandoned Him in death. If Christ did not rise from the dead, then there is no resurrection for us either. This would mean that there is no forgiveness of sins, no salvation, no eternal life in fellowship with God and our Christian brothers and sisters.
There are many who believe that our spirit is bound in our imperfect bodies, and that we only reach our spiritual potential when we are freed from it. It is understandable that people come to this view, since our bodies, especially when we are injured or riddled with disease or old age, limit us in living the way we would like. Also, when we sin, it is often to satisfy the needs of our bodies. So, we come to the conclusion that when we die, our spirits are finally freed from the limits of our bodies and now we can reach our potential and can come close to God.
However, this is not what the Bible teaches us. God created humans to have both body and soul. If that were not the case, He would not have created a body for us to start with. The Bible also tells us that when the time comes, we will go meet our Lord not just in spirit, but also with a resurrected body. In eternity, we are not going to be some bodiless spirit, but we will have a physical body. But this body will be not the imperfect body that we are/were used to, but a glorified body, similar to what the resurrected Christ has.
So, when this age ends and a new earth and a new heavens are created, we who died in faith will be there with our new bodies. This is the hope that the Lord has given us on that Easter morning when He rose from the dead.
This is why we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are grateful for what He went through on Good Friday, but that would have been meaningless had He not risen. Because He has risen, we now know that our sins are forgiven due to the good works of Christ on the cross. And by accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we too will rise in the end, with our souls and our new bodies, and be in eternity with our Lord, as well as our brothers and sisters in Christ.
(the above is a summary of the message shared by Shun Takano with us at our Easter worship on April 9, 2023.)