Why must Christ rise from the dead?

April 11, 2020

IFChrist died for our sins, have you ever wondered why He had to rise from the dead? Wouldn’t His death be enough?

An American preacher named Tim Keller has this interesting explanation. Suppose a man was imprisoned for his crimes. The prison has a time limit, after which he is free to rejoin society. How do you know that he has paid for the penalty of his crime? When he is no longer in prison. Similarly, Jesus died for our sins. How do you know that He has paid the penalty of our sins? When He is no longer dead. This is why we celebrate Easter.

The Apostle Paul insisted that Jesus’s claim to be the Son of God hinges on dying on the Cross and, three days later, rising from the dead (Romans 1:3-4).  But it goes deeper than that. We all hope to live again after we die. The desire for immortality is in our hearts.

If Christ did not actually rise from the dead, then that means neither will be. Our faith would be futile and we are still in our sins. If we have pegged our hope on Christ and He turned out to be a fraud, then we ought to be the most pathetic people in the world (1 Corinthians 15:17, 19).  But if indeed He rose from the dead, then not only did He validate His identity to be the Son of God, but also His promise that our sins are forgiven and we will live forever.

Think of it this way. Suppose John F. Kennedy told people that he is not only the U.S. president, but the Son of God. Suppose also that he predicted his assassination at Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963. Then the most outrageous claim of all: he said he will rise from the dead after three days.

Of course, we do not see a church teaching JFK is the Savior of the world. The obvious reason is that JFK is dead and remains dead. The existence and endurance of the Christian church, however, is one evidence (among others) that Christ really did rise from the dead. Put another way, it makes no sense for the Twelve Apostles to preach Christ’s resurrection when they knew it really didn’t happen. It makes even less sense that the Apostles suffered and were even martyred (except John who died of old age) for what they knew to be a barefaced lie.

There is one last reason why Christ had to rise from the dead. It points to the new life we live not when we get to heaven, but while we are here on earth. “Just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). I once read a striking insight: There is a difference between believing that Jesus was raised from the grave and believing that it applies to your life.

If Christ indeed died and rose from the dead, then we, metaphorically, should “die” to our sins and lead a new life in His ways. To “die” to our sins simply means we repent and stop sinning. Let us not be nasty or selfish before Palm Sunday, then become pious devotees during Holy Week and return to being nasty or selfish after Easter Sunday. If we do so, then it is as if Christ had remained dead in the tomb after all.

May we all celebrate the full meaning of Easter: Christ has risen and He has risen indeed… and so will we!

More insights can be found in my books, available in major bookstores nationwide. Visit my website nelsontdy.com@gmail.com. Contact me via nelsontdy.com@gmail.com.