Why the Resurrection?
The resurrection of the Lord Jesus is one of the most important Christian doctrines, upon which many other doctrines depend. It is a great miracle and a unique event, like the virginal birth of Christ. Such event hasn’t happened in history and will not happen in the future: a person rising from the dead by His own will and power as He foretold prior to his death.
Christ’s Resurrection Proves His Divinity
He rose because He is God, and because He is God He rose by His own authority since it is obvious that the dead person is normally not able to rise by himself. It proves His divinity since death is a consequence of sin and its punishment, while Christ alone is holy, pure, perfect and sinless; therefore death has no power over Him. Therefore, since He died voluntary and willingly, for our salvation, He also rose by His will and authority. St. Paul emphasized this fact by saying, “… and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” (Rom 1:4)
Christ’s Resurrection Proves His Death
No doubt that His resurrection proves His death on the Cross, and that this death was not expression of weakness or defeat, but rather the greatest expression of victory… victory over the most dangerous enemies of mankind--sin, death, Satan and Hades. That victory couldn’t be achieved by anyone else. It proved what Christ prophesied many times before His passion, about His death and resurrection (Matt. 17:22,23; Matt. 16:22; Mk 8:31; Lk 9:22; Mk 9:9,10,31,32; Mk 10:33; Jn 2:19-22), supporting His sayings with those of the prophets (Lk 24:44-48). He presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs to His disciples during the forty days after His resurrection (Acts 1:3). He showed them His hands wounded by the nails and His side pierced by the spear.
Christ’s Resurrection Proves His Faithful Sayings
Everyone is able to proclaim whatever he wants about himself; but his death could prove or disprove the truth of these proclamations. Christ, who proclaimed His divinity and talked about His incarnation, His death to save mankind, His resurrection and ascension to heaven to intercede for the believers and to complete their salvation, was validated by the evidence of his death and resurrection. This in turn should lead us to believe all of what Jesus said, even if it is beyond our understanding.
Christ’s Resurrection Proves the Prophesies
There are many prophecies that were fulfilled by the resurrection of Christ.
- “For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption” (Ps 16:10).
- “I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the LORD sustained me” (Ps 3:5).
- “Then the Lord awoke as from sleep, Like a mighty man who shouts because of wine” (Ps 78:65).
- “Awake! Why do You sleep, O Lord? Arise! Do not cast us off forever” (Ps 44:23).
- “Let God arise, Let His enemies be scattered; Let those also who hate Him flee before Him” (Ps 68:1).
- “Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in… Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory” (Ps 24:7-10).
- “After two days He will revive us; On the third day He will raise us up, That we may live in His sight” (Hos 6:2).
- These are in addition to the stories in the Old Testament that symbolize the resurrection of Christ like Isaac, Jonah, the two cleansing birds (Lev. 14:4,5) and the weaved sheaf of first fruits (Lev. 23:11).
Christ’s Resurrection Proves the Accomplishment of Salvation
The Lord Christ, upon the cross, said, “It is finished” and then gave up His spirit, as St. John witnessed (Jn. 19:30). He accomplished redemption upon the cross through His death, paying the wages of sin on our behalf, fulfilling the prophecies which talked about redemption, salvation, the Redeemer, and the Savior who saved us from eternal death (since the wage of sin is death (Rom 6:23; Jam 1:15).)
The Resurrection was also a must after accomplishing the redemption, because without it there is no proof of the acceptance by God the Father of the sacrifice of the cross as atonement for the sins of mankind. Without resurrection, our Christ would be a dead person, who was conquered by death like all men; and therefore the sacrifice of the cross would be limited and not sufficient to redeem all mankind, as St. Paul said, “If Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!” (1 Cor. 15:17). But resurrection was the strongest proof of His divinity, and proof that we are not worshiping a dead Messiah, but the Living One who was dead and is alive forever (Rev. 1:17,18). Moreover, it proves that sacrificing Himself was an unlimited sacrifice, accomplishing our redemption. This was not possible for anyone else to achieve, but only by God himself who was incarnated for our salvation.
Christ’s Resurrection and Ours
Isaiah prophesied that death would be trampled under Christ’s feet by saying, “He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces; the rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth; for the Lord has spoken” (Is. 25:8). It is well known that sin is a reproach to any people (Prov. 14:34). St. Paul invoked this prophecy by saying, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive” (1Cor. 15:22). That is, all men die like Adam because of the corrupted nature inherited from him, but we receive a new life, through Christ, in our bodies since our life in Christ leads us to our blessed resurrection. Through Christ’s resurrection, we are able to sing joyfully the song of victory, “O death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” (1 Cor. 15:55), the same song foretold by the prophet Hosea about death which lost its power by the Savior: “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. O Death, I will be your plagues! O grave, I will be your destruction!” (Hos 13:14).
If Christ is not risen, we will not rise; eternal death will be the end of our life, and we will be of all men the most pitiable (1Cor 15:19). If the hope we have in Christ is ended by this life, we’ll be deceived because we are suffering the afflictions of this life without legitimate hope in the life to come.
Christ’s resurrection is the perfect assurance for our resurrection, as St. Paul said, “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor 15:20). He proved the fact of Christ’s resurrection without a doubt, which does not need any further proofs (1Cor 15:1-58), but gives hope and joy to the believers in eternal life. St. Paul declared that Christ, through His resurrection, became the firstfruits, meaning others who have “fallen asleep” will rise from the dead as well.
Firstfruits and firstborn are synonyms that mean the first or the beginning of things or persons. According to the Jewish rite, the sheaf of the firstfruits of the harvest was offered in the third day of the Passover (Lev. 23:9-11). Christ, our Passover, indeed was crucified, or slain, for us (1 Cor. 5:7) on Friday, and on the third day, being the firstfruits, He rose from the dead, to be the first among the dead to rise to everlasting life, meaning life which will not ever be followed by death.
The firstfruits indicate the occurrence of the harvest, and the firstborn is characterized by being the person who precedes others, and exceeds others in honor; so Christ’s resurrection, the firstfruit that precede us, also prove the existence of our resurrection. St. Paul emphasized that Jesus is bringing many sons to glory (Heb 2:10), saying, “Here am I and the children whom God has given Me” (Heb 2:13).
Resurrection from the Dead
General resurrection became a reality and an important doctrine since the resurrection of Christ. St. Paul talks in his first epistle to the Corinthians about the fact of resurrection, answering many questions and concerns about the possibility of the resurrection of the body. He looked at Christ’s resurrection as a proof and firstfruits of our resurrection, assuring the Corinthians of this fact by saying, “For if the dead do not rise, then Christ did not rise” (1 Cor. 15:16) because our resurrection depends on the fact of Christ’s resurrection (1 Cor. 15:22).
This fact was also emphasized by the Lord Christ Himself, when the Sadducees, who do not believe in the resurrection, conversed with Him (Matt 22:23-32; Mk 12:20; Lk 20:37). He answered them saying, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God… but concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” These are the same words said to Moses by the Lord from the burning bush (Exod. 3:6).
About our Savior, St. Paul said, “… [He] has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Tim 1:10). This means that Christ’s resurrection revealed to us the nature of eternity, and that we’ll rise in glorified bodies like His glorified risen body. Then the apostle says to the believers, “If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in You, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you” (Rom 8:11).
Christ’s Resurrection and Our Resurrection in Everyday Life
Christ’s resurrection has its effect also in all aspects of everyday life. Among them, we are to rise from sin and spiritual laziness to walk in life with the spirit of resurrection. St. Paul was training himself everyday to live with the spirit of resurrection, looking forward to the general resurrection, the expected judgment day, and the eternal glory. He said, “I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men” (Acts 24:15,16).
Repentance is an experience of resurrection, because in repentance we reject the deeds of death to live a new life. This is necessary because sin separates us from God, the source of life. For this reason, the father accepted his lost son as a person who was transferred from death to life (Lk 15:11-32); as he said, “For this my son was dead and is alive again” (Lk 15:24), and he said to his older son, “It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again” (v.32). The Lord directed critical words to the angel of the church in Sardis saying, “I know your works, that you have a reputation that you are alive, but you are dead” (Rev. 3:1). Repentance is a practical experience of the resurrection, as we follow the life-giving voice of the Lord, as He says, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live” (Jn 5:24,25).
Another practical experience of the resurrection in our daily life is shown to us by St. John the Beloved, who said, “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death” (1Jn. 3:14). Practicing brotherly love to all is a daily experience of the power of resurrection and its efficacy in our life. Why? God is the Source of life, but also He is love; and He who abides in love abides in God, and God in him (1Jn. 4:7-13).