The New Testament makes clear that genuine Christianity stands or falls, lives or dies, on the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15 says that if Christ is not risen, then everyone is still in their sins, the New Testament writers are liars, and everyone stays dead when they die.
So if we have actually believed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we believe He has risen. But what does that fact we believe mean?
1) It means that we don’t all have to die for Adam’s sin (and our sin in him) the way we deserve to.
I know it is ridiculously unpopular to say we all deserve physical death and judgment not only for our sins but for Adam’s too, but it’s true. God says it this way through His Apostle Paul in Romans 5: “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.”
So Adam sinned and brought death, and we sin ourselves and prove we deserve death. We forsake and spit on and turn from and rebel against a good, holy, pure God. Adam opened the door to lies and hatred and cowardice and false worship, and we both (a) walked in as his unborn children and (b) willingly walk in every day again and again.
Sin brings death.
Evil brings about dead bodies and dead souls. We deserve to pay for it with both.
But there’s hope.
That same Romans 5 says that Jesus opened the door to resurrection. And in 1 Corinthians 15 God makes it clear that He plans on bodily resurrecting those who trust in His Son. Remaking them with unbreakable, undecaying bodies that cannot die. Imperishable seeds, He calls them. Adam brought about 2 kinds of death, physical and spiritual. Jesus brings about 2 kinds of resurrection. But we’ll get to that with #3.
2) It means that Jesus has conquered death.
Ever see a dead body? Ever feel the sting of losing a parent, grandparent, or child? Ever get moved to tears by a news story concerning the tragic death of someone you’ve never even met?
Have you ever been pierced by death?
Trust in Christ, believe in Jesus, put your faith in the one and only Son of God and death will be unable to ultimately touch you.
From 1 Corinthians 15: “He must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”
Those of us who love and worship Jesus worship a God who will stand on and crush death as though it were a brittle, flaky leaf. Will rule over death and destroy it like a good King destroys a treasonous impostor.
Jesus’ resurrection is the beginning of the end of death. And those of us who believe will never have to truly succumb to it.
3) It means we will be resurrected.
It’s striking that a lot of people don’t know this, but God promises in the Bible to raise those who are called by and follow His Son.
They get raised from the dead, too.
Paul writes in that letter to the Corinthian Christians that “Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” and “But someone will ask, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?’ You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel.”
Christ will raise those who trust in and treasure Him from the dead. How great a hope is this! This isn’t some goosebumpy, vague idea about a hereafter where light and soft indy music fade in like at the end of a happy Sundance Film Festival movie. This is the God who spoke matter into existence re-authoring our skin and bones and muscle and brains in perfection. Rewarding us with a home in His love and bodies to enjoy Him from. This is a concrete promise from the Father that what He did in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea for Jesus He will do for us.
Jesus was raised with a body of glory that still showed the holes in His hands and side, but that would never, ever die or decay.
What Adam did in letting heart attacks and cancer and Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and ALS and blood loss at the scenes of car accidents in, Jesus undoes for those who believe in Him.
Adam ushered in horror for the human soul and body. Jesus procured glory for them. The kind of glory that reflect the beauty and breathtaking majesty of their Creator.
God makes sinners righteous by grace through faith in Jesus and then raises their sin-killed bodies to perfect, eternal life.
We depart, are with Christ, and then at the end of all things are “transformed,” in the wording of that New Testament letter. Transformed by grace from the only sorts of bodies we’ve ever known to a kind we could not now even imagine.
Sin guarantees eternal death and despair. Jesus offers eternal life and love.
He earned it in His perfect life, guaranteed it in His sacrificial death, and began it in His resurrection.
The resurrection of Jesus means we can be free from the penalty of our sin, love and follow a God who will utterly vanquish death, and be raised from our physical deaths to eternal life in God-authored new bodies.
All sorts of people in life make promises.
Jesus’ empty tomb demonstrates He can keep them.