It is impossible to overstate the importance of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ to the Christian faith. It’s central. It’s fundamental. It’s foundational. In fact, no one can be a Christian without it (1 Cor. 15:14)! It’s that significant.
Here are four (of many) reasons why Jesus’s resurrection is a big deal.
It finalized the payment for our sins
This isn’t to downplay the importance of his death. We know that’s a big deal already. But, without the resurrection, the cross would have been, well, just another execution.
That’s what Paul meant when he wrote to the church in Corinth:
And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins (1 Cor. 15:17).
The empty tomb was proof that the Father approved of the Son’s sacrifice as a sufficient payment for the sins of believers.
As has been said elsewhere: “The surgery is not over until the doctor walks out of the surgery room. The cooking is not done until the turkey comes out of the oven. Your sins were not paid in full until Christ rose from the dead.”
It proved his divinity
Like Babe Ruth, Jesus had called his shot:
“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” … when Jesus said “this temple,” he meant his own body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this, and they believed both the Scriptures and what Jesus had said (John 2:19, 21–22).
This claim was not only bold and shocking like a magician promising an underwater escape from chains, this was a claim of divinity. Jesus was promising to demonstrate his God-ness in the resurrection … and everyone knew it (see Matt. 26:61; 27:40; Mark 15:29).
Jesus also said that the only sign going to be given to Israel was the sign of Jonah (Matt. 12:39–40). What’s the deal with Jonah? Well, he spent three days in the belly of a fish and, surprise, surprise, was delivered up out of that fish.
The resurrection proved Jesus’s claims were legitimate. He was God the Son Incarnate. Paul says it plainly: “He was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 1:4).
It defeated death
Since the third chapter of the Bible, death has been a problem that must be solved.
Jesus solved it and claimed as much. “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die” (John 11:25–26).
Because the tomb was empty, physical and spiritual death no longer has power over those who are in Christ—who believe in his name. Death has been defeated as was prophesied long ago (Gen. 3:15). No resurrection, no life.
It covered us in his righteousness
Jesus Christ being raised from the dead is proof of his own righteousness—he was so good that death (a punishment for evil) could not hold him. If Jesus wasn’t righteous, death would have had claim over him. But, since he was raised, he was holy.
What does this mean for us? Well, this is something I like to refer to as the “great cosmic trade.” When a sinner puts their faith in the Person and work of Jesus Christ, a great trade occurs: Jesus takes our sin and, in exchange, he gives us his righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21). (Seems like we got the better end of that deal, huh?)
It is only by Jesus’s resurrection that his righteousness can be given to sinners like us.
It makes Christianity unique
Mohammad, Ghandi, Brigham Young, Gautam Buddha. What do these religious founders and movement figureheads have in common?
Among other things, they’re all dead.
Christianity is the only religion that serves a living Saviour, a living Mediator, a living Judge, a living King. The resurrection sets Christianity apart.