Jesus Christ was raised from the dead. “So what?” you may ask, “What difference does that make to me?”
A huge difference. NT Wright calls the resurrection the lynchpin of the Christian faith. The apostle Paul goes even farther. He says that if the resurrection did not happen, you and I and every other Christian that has ever lived are to be pitied above all people, because we would have wasted our life on false hope. Our faith would be useless and we would be liars that only have bleak death waiting for us (1 Corinthians 15:12-19).
“But,” says Paul (thank goodness), “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead…” So what does this mean to you and me?
First, it means that Jesus is true to his word, because in the resurrection God confirmed that Jesus was who he claimed to be: Son, Messiah, Healer, Revealer of the Father, Trailblazer to a new life. He also confirmed that Jesus has the power to keep his promises: no one can snatch you from my hand (John 10:28); I will come back (John 14:28).
Second, it means that Jesus is over all things, and we can find hope for all our struggles. 1 Corinthians 15:26 reminds us that the last enemy to be destroyed is death. Did you catch that? Death is the last enemy. If death is the last enemy, and Jesus has conquered death (as demonstrated in the resurrection), then he has conquered every other enemy as well. The addictions we struggle with? Jesus has conquered them. The fear that threatens us? Jesus has conquered it, too. Death and disease are still here temporarily, but they are defeated enemies. Thus, in the resurrected Jesus we find the hope, strength, and perseverance to face our addictions and fears, and change.
Third, the resurrection tells us that Creation is good. When Jesus was resurrected, it was a bodily resurrection. It wasn’t just his spirit that lived on. He had a body. In other words, matter matters to God. So to this world. This world is in bondage and groaning for redemption, but it is good! We should treat it as such.
Finally, the resurrection means that not only do you and I have something to which to look forward (a renewed world with no pain or tears, as in Rev 21:4), but we have work to do now! At the end of his chapter on the resurrection, Paul says “Therefore [i.e. because Jesus Christ was raised from the dead]…be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labour is not in vain” (1 Cor 15:58). Because of the resurrection, when we sacrifice our time, money, life, dreams, plans, and agendas to God, it is not a waste. Whatever you and I do for the Lord is not in vain. Follow him.
Does the resurrection matter? Absolutely.
When we hear this morning, “He is risen,” may our hearts and voices gratefully respond with an emphatic “He is risen indeed!”