I remember teaching at an English conversation school and overhearing this conversation between another teacher and her students.
Student: What is Easter?
Teacher: Oh, it’s the day that Christians believe Jesus rose from the dead.
<dead silence, and probably incredulous looks by the students>
Teacher: Well, I don’t believe it. Christians do.
Having been a Christian practically all my life, I suppose I take it for granted that Jesus rose from the dead. But I have to admit, if I really think about it, it really is an incredible thing that we believe. A very hard thing we believe.
And I suppose it would be easy to ask, “Is it really that important to believe in Christ’s resurrection? Can’t we just teach what Christ said and what he did on the cross?”
That’s the question the Corinthians were facing. And in fact, many were starting to say, “There is no resurrection.”
So Paul launches into a vociferous defense of the resurrection. He says,
But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. (12-14)
He’s saying here, “Look, if there is no resurrection, that means Christ is still dead. And if Christ is still dead, then our preaching and your faith are meaningless.” Why?
If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. (17-18)
Why is the resurrection so important? It is proof that God accepted Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins. But if Christ is still dead, Paul tells us that means God didn’t accept Christ’s sacrifice, and we are still headed for hell. And if we are still headed for hell, Paul says that we are to be pitied because all our hope is in vain (19).
Paul later says that he and so many others have suffered for Christ, yet if Christ is not risen, then all their suffering was for naught. (30-32) In fact, we might as well just live to please ourselves. As Paul said,
If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” (32)
But because Christ was raised from the dead, God did accept Christ’s sacrifice for us. And because Christ rose, we can know that we too will be raised with Christ if we put our faith in him. More, we have the hope that one day, he will return and make all things right, reigning over everyone and everything, even death (20-27).
So no matter what we may go through on this earth, whether it be suffering or even death for Christ’s sake, in the end, we can be confident it will be all worth it.
Why is the resurrection important? Because it is the source of our hope. Without the resurrection, there is no hope. But with the resurrection, we have a hope and joy that no one will ever be able to take from us.
Do you have that hope today?