- - Monday, March 25, 2024

This Easter Sunday, Christians around the globe, as they have done for nearly 2,000 years, will commemorate and celebrate the bodily resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. But does the belief in and the proclamation of this first-century claim of faith matter in 2024? What does the physical resurrection of Jesus mean for our troubled and broken world?

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The resurrection of Jesus stands at the heart of the Christian faith. The Apostle Paul, when writing to the Church in Corinth, argues, “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14, ESV). In the resurrection of Jesus, the Christian faith finds its deepest dimension and most profound meaning. Likewise, the message of the resurrection of Jesus communicates eternal truths for our and our world’s salvation, healing and ultimate transformation.

Christianity is more than philosophical commitments, moral ideals, or aspirations for a good life. The faith the first witnesses of Jesus proclaimed was rooted in affirming the truth of the birth, life, suffering, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus of Nazareth.

The apostle and evangelist, John the Beloved, the author of the Gospel of John, explains in his first letter, “That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you” (1 John 1:3, ESV). Following the faith of these early Christians, here are seven reasons why the resurrection of Jesus matters in our world:

1. In the birth, life and death of Jesus, the eternal God broke into our broken world.

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Jesus is “one who in every respect has been tempted as we are” (Hebrews 4:15, ESV) by being born and living fully as a human. In the incarnation of Jesus, we come to understand that God is not far from our often pain-filled human existence. In the life and death of Jesus, God partook of all of what it means to be human with all the pain and confusion of the human experience, and yet in the resurrection, we find all the human hope and longing for redemption and healing. We do not walk alone. God knows our pain and suffering.

2. In the death of Jesus, God took upon Himself all the effects and consequences of sin.

In the resurrection, Jesus conquered sin and all of its hellish aftermath. On the Day of Pentecost, the Apostle Peter declared, “God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it” (Acts 2:24, ESV). In the resurrection of Jesus, we know that a better world is possible where right can win over wrong, and hatred can break into love.

3. Through the resurrection of Jesus, we can find complete justification before a holy God.

The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Church in Rome, describes Jesus as He, “who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification” (Romans 4:25, ESV). The resurrection of Jesus opens the door to recovering our original innocence and freedom from the human experience of guilt.

4. The resurrection of Jesus proclaims that we are not left alone in this world.

The resurrected and ascended Jesus sent the Holy Spirit into our world as our comforter and help. Peter, in his Pentecost sermon, declares that Jesus “being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing” (Acts 2:32-33, ESV). God is not far from our suffering; wherever there is darkness and confusion, His Spirit hovers to bring light and healing to our broken world.

5. In the resurrection of Jesus, human resurrection is ensured. Death is not the end.

As Jesus was raised from the dead, those who put their hope and trust in Him will also be raised. The Apostle Paul argues, “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15: 20-22, ESV). The devastation and hopelessness of death are reversed in the resurrection of Jesus.

6. The resurrection of Jesus proclaims the hope of a new and better world to come.

The early followers of Jesus called this a “living hope.” The Apostle Peter writes that God “has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading” (1 Peter 1:3-4, ESV). In a world short on visions of a brighter future, the resurrection of Jesus gives us hope that our world can be healed and that the future can be better.

7. In the resurrection of Jesus, true justice is restored to our world.

In raising Jesus from the dead, the first followers of Jesus understood that He would return to judge the world in truth and justice. The Apostle Paul, standing in the Areapagus in ancient Athens, told the Athenians that God “will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31, ESV). All that is wrong in our world will one day be made right by Him, who is raised from the dead.

The resurrection of Jesus matters today. This is especially true for those who no longer see themselves as part of the organized Church, which itself has not always lived up to the truths communicated in the resurrection of Jesus. Moral failure, hypocrisy and leadership abuses have caused many to depart and reject the faith altogether. May these precious people rediscover their deepest concerns for this world are answered in the truth Easter proclaims, and may the Church, which has often failed them, be renewed and revived to live in all that the resurrection of Jesus brings.

In a world marred by envy, self-seeking and violence, the resurrection of Jesus opens the door to a better way. We can be forgiven, and our world can be healed. Death does not have the final say. Life triumphs over death. This Easter, may this ancient truth find its way back to the center of our world: Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

Corné J. Bekker, D. Litt. et Phil., is dean of the Regent University School of Divinity, located in Virginia Beach, VA

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