|Volume 17 Number 1 January 2015||
Louis Rushmore, Editor
The resurrection of Jesus Christ was the core of the Gospel message preached in the first century, and it remains the heart of the Gospel message throughout the New Testament. “And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty” (1 Corinthians 15:14).
One simply cannot overemphasize the significance of the resurrection of Christ. Among other considerations, the hope of our resurrection depends upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ. “Knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you” (2 Corinthians 4:14). “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3-4).
Why Jesus’ Resurrection Matters
The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave, never to return thereto, is a critical aspect of Christianity. Had Jesus Christ not resurrected from the grave, there would have been absolutely no hope for sin-laden, lost humanity! Though Jesus Christ was the Son of God, without His resurrection human hopes would have been forever dashed. Though Jesus Christ was the long prophesied Savior or Messiah, without His resurrection He could have saved no one. Although Jesus Christ shed his precious blood on Calvary’s cross, without the resurrection its purchase price would have been ineffective. Though Jesus Christ had fulfilled all other prophesies, without the resurrection all of that would have been meaningless. Though multitudes of souls under Patriarchy and Judaism faithfully obeyed God, without the resurrection of Jesus Christ none of that would have gotten anyone closer to an eternity in heaven with God. All would be vanity without the resurrection of Jesus Christ!
The church could not have been established without the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The resurrection of Jesus Christ was the ultimate climax of His mission to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). Unlike others who had been resurrected from the dead, Jesus Christ did not die again. Other men’s works cease at death, but not so with Jesus Christ whose work included His own resurrection from the grave. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the deathblow to Satan and the assurance that we will be resurrected from the grave someday. Failure to resurrect from the grave would have disproved Jesus of Nazareth to be the Messiah and the Son of God. Simply put, without the resurrection of Jesus Christ, there would be no Christianity!
When Was Jesus’ Resurrection?
Jesus Christ resurrected from the grave on Sunday, April 9, A.D. 30 (or A.D. 33 depending whether allowances are taken into consideration for an error in our calendar). Jesus Christ was crucified Friday, April 7. Many awesome events transpired that day: an earthquake, the veil of the Temple was torn in half, darkness engulfed the earth and dead saints walked throughout Jerusalem. Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus hurriedly buried Jesus Christ before the Sabbath began that evening at 6:00 p.m.
Saturday, April 8, the Sanhedrin persuaded Pilate to seal and guard the tomb of Jesus Christ. The Jewish leaders did not expect Jesus Christ to resurrect, but they feared the disciples would steal the body of Jesus and claim that he resurrected. Pilate provided soldiers for the tomb to be guarded until after the third day.
Sunday, April 9, Jesus Christ arose! The world calls this day “Easter Sunday,” but the Bible contains no religious instruction commemorating it as a holy day. An angel rolled back the stone sealing the tomb. The guards were frightened by the resurrection of the Lord but were bribed by the Jews to say Jesus’ disciples stole his body while they slept. Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene and other women went to the tomb while it was yet dark, but they found the tomb empty. They reported the empty tomb to Peter and John who ran to the tomb to see for themselves.
Resurrection Day Appearances of Jesus
The resurrected Christ made several appearances on the day of his resurrection. Mary Magdalene was the first to see the resurrected Christ (Mark 16:9); Jesus had cast seven demons out of her. She told the apostles but they did not believe her (Mark 16:10-11). A group of faithful women also saw the resurrected Lord (Matthew 28:9-10). Jesus Christ appeared to two disciples as they walked in the country, but they were not believed when they told other disciples (Mark 16:12-13). Jesus Christ appeared to Peter (Luke 24:34). Jesus appeared to ten of the apostles (John 20:13-23). Judas who betrayed Jesus Christ was already dead, and Thomas was not present with the rest of the apostles (John 20:24).
Additional Resurrection Appearances
The resurrected Christ showed Himself alive for 40 days after His resurrection (Acts 1:3). On April 16, Jesus Christ appeared to the remaining eleven apostles, including Thomas (John 20:26-28). Later, Jesus appeared to seven apostles at the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1-23). Another occasion of a great catch of fish occurred. Jesus impressed Peter with the need to be loyal and humble by repeatedly asking Peter if Peter loved Christ. Jesus Christ appeared to the eleven apostles at the Ascension (Luke 24; Acts 1). Obviously, the candidates for apostle to replace Judas had seen the resurrected Lord as that was one of the requirements to be an apostle (Acts 1:21-23). Over 500 brethren at one time saw the resurrected Christ (1 Corinthians 15:6).
Post Ascension Resurrection Appearances
The resurrected Christ appeared to some after his Ascension. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, saw the resurrected Christ just before Stephen died from stoning (Acts 7:55-56). Saul of Tarsus (the apostle Paul) saw the resurrected Lord on the road to Damascus (Acts 9; 22; 26; 1 Corinthians 15:8).
The death and subsequent resurrection of Jesus Christ was prophesied. Jesus Christ took the form of flesh, lived on the earth, died and was resurrected. The enemies of the Jesus Christ tried in vain to keep Him in the tomb, and they could offer no evidence that He had not resurrected, which most certainly they would have done from Pentecost forward when Jesus Christ was preached that He arose from the grave (Acts 2:24, 31-32; 3:15; 4:10, 33; 5:30-32; 10:40-41; 13:30-34; 17:2-3, 31; 26:23; Romans 1:4; etc.). The resurrection of Jesus Christ was proved by appearances in which He appeared at different hours of the day and on several different days. Jesus walked, talked and ate food with his disciples.
The disciples who had mourned His death and were skeptical concerning His resurrection were convinced that He resurrected, and they were willing to die torturous deaths if necessary while defending the fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Over 500 brethren had seen the resurrected Christ at one time, a sufficient body of witnesses to satisfy any judge and jury.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ became the basis for the promotion of Christianity. Without the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Christianity would be empty and useless (1 Corinthians 15:19). The heart of Christianity is contained in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4! “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you — unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: 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.”
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died for you and me, and He resurrected so that your sins and my sins could be remitted. “And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!” (1 Corinthians 15:17). The resurrection of Jesus Christ is meaningless to anyone who either has become an erring child of God or has never been baptized for the remission of sins (Romans 6:23; 1 John 1:9; Hebrews 10:26; Acts 2:38).