Someone asked me the following question:
What does Jesus’ death and resurrection mean to you?
And here is my response to them:
In the most general sense, Jesus dying and resurrecting is the most important thing to Christianity. It is the cornerstone to everything that our faith is built on top of. Let me tell you what I mean: his death is crucial because it assumes that he was alive. Many will tell you that Jesus never existed, never lived. But half of this equation requires that you believe that he walked, talked, breathed, and even burped on this earth. So to believe that he died, means believing he first lived. This is only half of what you’re asking. The second part is the resurrection. This is even more crucial, because we’re not just asking did Jesus live, but did he do something that no other human being on the face of this earth has ever done before?
Now, you may hear that resurrection was seen differently back then. That maybe he lost his pulse but regained it and was resuscitated with some CPR. Or maybe resurrection wasn’t that big a deal back then. They just didn’t understand science or medicine enough. Let me assure you, the word “resurrection” hasn’t lost any meaning in translation. It means just what we think it means today: coming back to life from death. And that’s a crazy idea today just as it was back then. Just look at peoples response: “Now when [the people] heard of the resurrection of the dead [from Paul], some mocked.” (Acts 17:32) “That’s crazy,” they said when Paul and the other apostles would tell them how Jesus came back from the dead. “You’re stupid for believing that rubbish.”
The biggest take-aways that I want you to hear from this is that Jesus’ death and resurrection are crucial because of what they imply. His death implies that he was alive to begin with, and his resurrection implies that his words were true. Think of everything Jesus had said while he was alive, everything written in red before his death, as being the writing of a check. When Jesus was resurrected, it’s like cashing that check. The check didn’t bounce because Jesus didn’t write a check that was too big to cash. He wasn’t just talk, but his resurrection testified to everything he had said while on earth.
I don’t want to go on forever because I want my words to count. What I’ve written so far is why Jesus’ death and resurrection are crucial to Christianity. But I’ve avoided the question of what it means to me personally.
It means four things to me:
1.) That Jesus’ promises can be trusted.
- I know that Jesus can be trusted when he says something like, “I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you,” (John 14:18). He made a promise that involved breaking the laws of physics, medicine, and everything we know to be “true,” and he came through with it. We can now trust his other promises.
2.) I will be resurrected too.
- Knowing that Jesus was resurrected gives me assurance that I will not taste death—it’s in God’s power to save me from death as he demonstrated it on Jesus. “For if we have been united with [Jesus] in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” (Romans 6:5)
3.) I am not powerless.
- God calls me (and each of you) to do things that are impossible on our own. But that doesn’t mean that you and I are powerless. The same Spirit which broke laws of physics to perform the miracle of bringing Christ back from the dead is the same Spirit that lives inside of you. You don’t have a smaller dose, you don’t have a portion of the Spirit, you get the whole full-blow deal that Jesus got.
4.) God is worth following.
- This power of resurrecting people from the dead gives me assurance that God is worth submitting to. No other man can come up to you on the street and tell you that you will live forever in paradise and never taste death. If they do, tell them to prove it like Jesus did, and then call 911. God is the author of life, and Jesus’ death and resurrection account for that fact. It shows God’s power and authority, two things that are required for you to swear allegiance to something. And while you’ll swear allegiance to our flag because the United States of America has a great deal of power and authority, know that even Obama doesn’t have the power to bring life back. But God our father does.
I pray that the idea of Jesus’ death and resurrection pierce your heart like it has mine. Don’t down play it because you’ve always heard it growing up. For it to hit your heart, you’ll need to really think about it. Think for a minute of what it means.
Close your eyes and imagine a man being whipped, lashed, beat up, and nailed to a cross where he would suffer for hours. The wounds inflicted on his back scraping up against the splintered wood of the beam he was nailed to. Hands and legs exhausted from holding his own weight and as they weaken, he slowly suffocates, taking smaller and smaller gasps for air. And finally he dies, naked, exposed, bleeding, ashamed, for something he didn’t do. And then imagine, three days later, when his corpse should have already begun to rot and fester, he stands in victory over death. The one person to ever be able to do this. If you can believe this, wrestle with it, digest it, it will change the way you live. It has to.