“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” ~ 1 Peter 1:3
A few years ago I came up with a little formula of sorts to better explain the Gospel message to others:
Jesus came to earth to teach us how to live rightly.
Jesus died on the cross to give us the power to live rightly.
Jesus rose from the grave to give us the reason to live rightly.
Obviously on this Easter, I’m thinking of this last line. If everything were true about Jesus except for his resurrection, there would be a murky shroud of “Why bother?” or “So what?” hanging over our hearts.
Walt Disney being dead may make me sad, but it still doesn’t keep me from having a blast at Disneyland. It’s unfortunate that the Beatles never worked it out and came together in my life, but I can let it be because their music is here, there and everywhere just as it was yesterday.
But with Jesus, it’s another story. The fact that counting out three days from his death he returned to life in a resurrected body is absolutely essential to the rescue mission he undertook.
Why is the resurrection so critical?
First: Easter proves that everything we believe about Jesus is true.
The evidence for Jesus being who he said he was is considerable without the resurrection. He fulfilled dozens of specific Messianic prophecies written down centuries before he was born. That should mean something to you.
His very life is evidence. No one in history compares to him. His profound teaching, his perfect life, his unquenchable love, his astounding power speak volumes.
But for Christians throughout time, the resurrection is what clinches the deal. The apostle Paul went so far as to say that without it our “faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17).
Technically speaking, the resurrection is not what saves us. This was brought about by our Lord’s death. But the resurrection proves that his death worked. It’s heaven’s confirmation number that God accepts the transaction. Without it, we would have reason to wonder. Now that we know that we know that we know it’s true, we have every motivation to follow hard after Jesus.
Second: Easter proves that our destiny is to become good like Christ.
God places templates of eternity into everyday life to show us that our faith is not a myth or fairy tale. How can we possibly look at an elderly person and believe that they could one day be young again? Because resurrection happens every year as new, young life bursts forth miraculously from the grave of winter.
Likewise, in the miracle of the caterpillar which transforms into a butterfly we see a picture of the future glory that awaits us in eternity. The Bible assures us that one thing is certain about that time and place – followers of Christ in eternity will be forever rid of their sin.
- Everything that causes evil will be weeded out of God’s kingdom (Matthew 13:41).
- The journey begins in this life. “We…are being transformed [the Greek word is metamorphometha which should remind you of the word metamorphosis, so we’re not far off with the butterfly analogy] into his likeness from one degree of glory to another.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)
- But it comes to completion after death or upon Christ’s return (whichever comes first.) “In a flash, in the twinkling of an eye…we will be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:52).
- This transformation is certain for all blood-bought disciples. “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.” (Romans 8:29)
- The end result of this miraculous metamorphosis is that we will resemble Jesus in our moral character and love. “We know that when he appears, we shall be like him.” (1 John 3:2)
How do we know these verses aren’t just wishful thinking? Simple: look at Jesus’ resurrection. His resurrected body is Exhibit A of what will happen to us. Paul called Christ the ‘first fruits’ of what will also happen to those who follow him (1 Corinthians 15:20). If there’s a ‘first fruit’ then a much larger harvest is to follow. Paul’s logic: if it happened to him, it’ll happen for his followers as well.
Why should this give us the reason to live rightly? When you know that something special is coming around the bend – getting married, a long-awaited vacation, a new job – you start making adjustments in your living long before it happens.
You don’t say to yourself, “The wedding is next weekend. I better get all my sleeping around out of the way this weekend.” Right after John tells us “We know that when he appears, we shall be like him“, he completes the thought by saying, “Everyone who has this hope purifies himself as he is pure.” (1 John 3:3).
Third: Easter proves that Jesus is alive to help us.
We always think that growing in goodness is a matter of things that we must do. Every blog article is loaded with a half dozen principles for better health or happiness or hair growth.
But man does not live by principles alone. In the end when it’s all said and done, purity will not be achieved by principles, but by a Person.
You’ll get your principles for sure. As you learn to spend time with this Person, he will give you very practical things to do. Some of these things will be things that he asks all of his followers to do, but other things will be unique to you.
But it’s not the rules that matter so much in the end, as the relationship. Purity will not be achieved by the steps which you take, but by a hand which you take.
And Easter proves that when we reach out, He’ll grab hold of us.