The Bible makes it clear. The resurrection of Jesus is essential to everything we believe.
1 Corinthians 15:14-19
14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation is without foundation, and so is your faith. 15 In addition, we are found to be false witnesses about God, because we have testified about God that He raised up Christ—whom He did not raise up if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, Christ has not been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. 18 Therefore, those who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished. 19 If we have put our hope in Christ for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone.
All four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) give eyewitness accounts to the resurrection of Jesus. Each emphasizes the people who saw the risen Jesus and how that impacted their lives.
The reality of the resurrection. In Luke chapter 24, we see that a group of women went to the tomb of Jesus on the Sunday following His crucifixion bringing burial spices with them. But when they approached the cave-tomb, they found the stone rolled away and the body of Jesus was not there! Not knowing what to believe, they encountered two angels who assured them that truly Jesus was alive. The women rushed to tell the disciples who did not believe the news. Peter and John raced to the tomb and found it empty, just as the woman had said. Jesus was not there. He had been resurrected!
Today, you can visit the tombs of the founders of the major religions of the world. You can visit the tombs of Muhammad, Buddha and others. Those leaders are dead. But, if you go to the tomb of Jesus, He is not there. He is alive! He was more than the founder of a religion. He did not come to establish a religion; He came to make a way for you to have a relationship with God. His death and resurrection made the way.
6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
The message of the resurrection. One of the eyewitness accounts to the resurrected Jesus was by two people traveling on the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus. As they walked and talked on the day of the resurrection, Jesus joined them along the road yet they did not realize it was Him. They discussed the recent events and how their hopes had been shattered by Jesus’ crucifixion. They shared the amazing news that the women had found an empty tomb!
Jesus then began to explain to them all that the Bible said about the Messiah. This was the greatest story Jesus ever told. When they reached their destination, Jesus joined them for a meal. During the meal, as Jesus broke the bread, their eyes were opened and they realized that it was Him. In that moment, He disappeared. They rushed back to Jerusalem and told the disciples of their encounter with Jesus. Suddenly Jesus appeared to all of them.
44 Then He told them, “These are My words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about Me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. 46 He also said to them, “This is what is written: The Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead the third day, 47 and repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”
The message of the resurrection is that forgiveness of sins and eternal life is available through Jesus to the people of all nations. This is the greatest news ever.
The witnesses of the resurrection. The women who had gone to the tomb, Peter, John, the other disciples, and the two people who had been encountered by Jesus on the road to Emmaus were some of the first eyewitnesses of the resurrected Christ. They shared this news all over the world. Jesus’ resurrection changed their lives forever, and guaranteed eternal life for all who put their trust in Him.
Before the resurrection, the disciples of Jesus were fearful and hopeless. They hid behind locked doors, wondering what their future might hold. After the resurrection, they were fearless and full of hope, filled with purpose and direction, willing to boldly proclaim the news that the resurrected Jesus was their Savior and Lord. Their lives were changed forever.
My life has been changed forever by the resurrected Christ and so have millions of people through the centuries. We boldly proclaim to the people of all nations that they too can have forgiveness of sins and eternal life if they will turn from their sin and trust in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. The first century believers were His witnesses, and we are His witnesses today.
Let us continue to take the good news of Jesus to the ends of the earth, particularly to those who have never heard of Jesus, starting with the people God brings our way today.