"But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then, those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people to be most pitied.' 1 Corinthians 15:12-19
If Christ is not raised, then nothing else matters. There is no other religion in history that makes the claim that its founder rose from the dead. This fact makes the resurrection the absolute centerpiece of Christianity. Without that fact, we are living a lie based on a hoax, and nothing we have ever done or said in the name of Christ matters. The question is either Christ was crucified and raised from the dead or he wasn't. The answer to that question has overwhelming consequences and implications for all of mankind. It is in fact, the most important question each one of us can answer and without believing in the resurrection, there is no hope.
Because Christ rose from the dead, as he promised, we can be assured that what he said was true and who he claimed to be was true. We can rest assured that our sins are forgiven and that he still lives today and that because he was raised from the dead, we can rest assured that we will also be raised.
The Romans performed innumerable crucifixions before, during and after the life of Christ, most of those long forgotten after they occurred. However, the crucifixion of Christ is vastly different than all the other crucifixions that took place, because of the resurrection. Immediately following Christ's arrest, the apostles deserted Christ and after his crucifixion believed it was over. Yet nearly all of these men died in the name of Christ and for their belief in the resurrection.
Peter, Andrew, Phillip, Bartholomew, Simon and James were all crucified. Thomas killed by a spear, Matthew a sword and Thaddeus killed by arrows. All in the name of Christ and their belief that he had raised from the dead. The explosion of Christianity around the world since that time is primarily due to the first eyewitnesses which consisted not only of the apostles, but hundreds of others who saw him after he was crucified. They suffered because they saw and believed.
The question for us today is do we believe as the apostles did that Christ died and was raised from the dead thus paying the price for our sins and the promise of eternal life? Without an answer to that question and without our acknowledgement of repentance and our promise of surrender to him, all other things are meaningless. We can be leaders in our church or teach Sunday school, but if we do not believe then it is meaningless. We can perform good deeds, save lives, help the needy and feed the homeless but without the resurrection and our belief that it happened, we have no hope. The reality is, it all comes down to the cross. Our lives may get sidetracked with many distractions that cause us to lose our focus and forget where our priority should be. It is because of the resurrection that Christ has all authority in heaven and on earth. He has authority over our lives, over death, over all living things. It is because of the resurrection that we now as believers have a mission to make disciples of Christ based on the authority he has over our lives. It is not an option nor is the resurrection just another tradition to be celebrated.
For it was on this day, that Christ died for the sins of all mankind. Allowing new lives to experience the resurrection power of Christ. We are no longer chained to the sins of mankind that began with the fall of Adam. Because of the resurrection, Christ lives with us today through the power of the Holy Spirit. Because of the resurrection, the church has a witness to the world. Because of the resurrection, we have the promise of eternal life. And because of the authority of Christ, he has promised to be with us always through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit that allows us to live freely from the chains of sin, sharing our faith and to totally surrender every aspect of our lives to him. It is because of the resurrection, that all things will be made new. The answer for all of mankind rests solely on what happened on Resurrection day and our response to that event. For if Christ is not raised, then nothing else matters. May we all live our lives each day with this simple fact in mind. It all rests on the Cross and His resurrection.
"The angel said to the women, Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell the disciples: He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him. Now I have told you." - Matthew 28:5-7