"And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."
- 1 Corinthians 15:14
Most scholars, including non-Christian ones, agree that Jesus of Nazareth was a real, historical person. But the Son of God who was raised from the dead? Come on, now. Let’s be realistic.
Have you ever contemplated the fact that the entire Christian faith hinges on the belief that Jesus actually rose from the dead? That can sound crazy. It may be an unpopular conviction. We can say that Jesus was a great example, a good teacher, a wise leader, and so on; most people will tend to agree. But to say that he rose from the dead? That could be taking it too far.
But what about Peter? Before Jesus was crucified, we see Peter denying that he even knows Jesus. Not just once…three times! But after Jesus’s resurrection, Peter is a powerful preacher who is not afraid to be imprisoned or even to die! What changed?
The answer is found earlier in chapter 15 of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians:
"3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born."
Imagine that you are testifying in court and you called over 500 witnesses to corroborate your testimony. I bet the jury would be convinced. Paul never would have written this if it weren’t true; he would have lost all his credibility. He was confident that there were around 500 people that would back up his claim.
I could go on and on about the historical evidence about the resurrection of Jesus but there are plenty of great resources by people
who are much more educated on the topic than me (check out “The Case For Christ” by Lee Strobel as a good starting point). Instead, I’d rather focus on a theme that is well-captured in these lyrics by the Grammy-winning recording artist, Lecrae:
Paul said if Christ ain't resurrected we've wasted our lives
Well that implies that our life's built around Jesus being alive
These lyrics raise for me what is the true question of Easter. Instead of asking whether or not Jesus truly rose from the dead, I ask myself: If Jesus did not resurrect, is my life meaningless? If I can say yes, that means that my life is truly built around my faith. If I can’t, I may need to do some reprioritizing.
I pray that you will join me in this questioning. That we may take time to contemplate and to hear from God. In doing so, may we grow closer to Him and become the people that He has created us to be. Amen.