Where would Christianity be without the resurrection of Christ? It wouldn’t be. Christianity without the risen Savior is like the Amazon rainforest without trees, the Pacific Ocean without water, the Sahara Desert without sand. Remove Christ’s triumph over death and you’re left with the most insidious creation of man, the most colossal hoax in the annals of human history.
The faith which was “once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3) undoubtedly rises or falls on the Nazarene’s bodily resurrection from the dead. Jesus did not speak in ambiguous and amorphous terms when he talked about the unimaginable event that would follow His crucifixion:
From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. (Matthew 16:21)
And Christ did not openly delineate this prediction to His disciples alone, but Scripture makes it clear that even His enemies were privy to what He had unreservedly declared:
On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, saying, “Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’ So the last deception will be worse than the first.” (Matthew 27:62–64)
However, setting aside the veracity of the resurrection for a moment, let us ask what impact the knowledge of it had on people. What impact has it had on you?
“Christianity without the risen Savior is like the Amazon rainforest without trees, the Pacific Ocean without water, the Sahara Desert without sand.”
There’s no question as to how the miracle of that first Easter morning transformed the persecuted, marginalized, and outnumbered band of early believers. They went from forsaking Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane to standing boldly on the Day of Pentecost and heralding the gospel unashamedly to a massive multitude—out of whom 3,000 converts were won. They went from hiding out in fear to passionately vowing to obey God rather than man when they were incarcerated and threatened by the powerful religious leaders of their day—rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. They endured imprisonments, beatings, stonings, shipwrecks, and torture for the sake of their Redeemer. And in the end, almost every single one of His apostles chose a gruesome death over renouncing the one who suffered, died, and rose again on their behalf. Quite a dramatic impact, wouldn’t you say?
But the resurrection did not have the same effect on everyone. The Roman soldiers who guarded the tomb became so terrified by the sight of the glorious, shining angel who rolled away the stone from its mouth that they “shook for fear of him, and became like dead men” (Matthew 28:2–4). And yet, when they told the chief priests what they had personally witnessed, they were quickly bought off with a large sum of money and agreed to lie and say that the disciples stole Jesus’ body at night while they slept (Matthew 28:11–15).
And though some believed when Paul proclaimed the resurrection on Mars Hill, some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on this matter” (Acts 17:32).
So, where do you stand? Is the power of the resurrection at work in your life? Are you boldly proclaiming it to others? Are you willing to endure persecution and even death for the sake of the resurrected Savior? Have you believed, or do you mock? Perhaps you plan on hearing about it again later. But know this: In the end, we—like Christianity itself—will all undoubtedly rise or fall on how we respond to the Nazarene’s resurrection from the dead.