Why the Resurrection?

Empty tomb4 (WinCE)Can people rise from the dead? We've heard of those who have died for a few minutes, or were very near death and returned, some with amazing stories. And there are those who believe when we die we come back as other people or things. But can anyone living today truly prove beyond a doubt that a dead man can rise again? Jesus' disciples claimed they had proof. They had seen Him, many times, in a new body, but a recognizable one. He still bore the scars of His death, but He was alive, ate food, could be touched, and could disappear or reappear in a flash. (That last part is, of course, the miraculous part of a resurrected body.) But then resurrection is indeed miraculous, yes?

Over the centuries Jesus' followers have gone to their deaths clinging to their faith in resurrection. Paul was persecuted for preaching on the subject and eventually martyred for it. Why push a belief to such extremes? Other religions follow leaders who died many years ago with no claims of resurrection, and yet their followers are devoted to their teachings. So why do Christians see the resurrection as absolutely vital to their faith?

Because without the resurrection, there would be no redemption. All of Jesus' claims to be the Son of Man and the Son of God would have been proven false. His miracles would have faded from memory because He couldn't do what those standing at the cross that day taunted Him to do. "He saved others, let Him save himself."

Death could not hold God. Death only has power over humanity and the animal and plant kingdom. The world and all that is in it will die someday. But you can't kill God because God is. He is present tense, meaning He was, is, and is to come. Past, present, future.

Moses once asked God to tell him His name. God called himself "I AM." Jesus used that same phrase in the Garden of Gethsemane when they came to arrest Him. He said, "I Am He." And the soldiers fell down in worship (unintentionally).

Jesus promised His followers a kingdom, He talked about a future where evil will be destroyed. Good will reign. But then He told Pilate (that wimpy governor who ordered Jesus' death by crucifixion) that His kingdom was not of this world.

On the other hand, the prophets of old predicted an earthly kingdom where King David's heir would reign forever. Jesus was also called the Son of David, meaning David's heir.

The truth is, there are still a lot of prophecies Jesus has yet to fulfill. He fulfilled a lot of them when He came to earth in human form, but not all of them. If He had been simply a man with great ideas and died as all men do, then whatever prophecies He may have brought to pass then, would not hold true now because to be the true Messiah, He would have to fulfill them all.

That's why the resurrection is so important. It proves that He was who He said He was. And it allows Him to still bring about the rest of His promises and that earthly kingdom He promised.

Anyone can promise their followers a spiritual kingdom because nobody really knows (from personal experience) what lies on the other side of death. (Like I said, there have been glimpses, but no 3 days in the grave kind of first-hand knowledge.)

The kind of kingdom Jesus promised will be one of peace. (Hard to imagine in this world.) And He has to be alive to fulfill that.

If the resurrection was not true, if our faith is only in this life, then as the apostle Paul said, "We are of all men most miserable."

But witnesses to Jesus' resurrection (hundreds of them) say otherwise. And the promises in God's Word demand it be true, because God promised that not one word of His would pass away. God keeps His promises.

And the resurrection was also the Father's promise to the Son that His body would not see decay. He was only dead long enough to fulfill the Scriptures.

That's why the resurrection matters.

But, let's face it, we cannot physically prove it because Jesus isn't walking on earth now to touch and see. One of his disciples wanted that proof of touch before he would believe a word of it. Doubting Thomas they call him. But he insisted that unless he could touch Jesus' scars, he wouldn't believe.

Jesus stood before him and said to go ahead and touch him. But then He said, "Blessed are they who have not seen and yet have believed."

That means us.

It's always been about faith. Even in something as outrageous as God rising from the dead.