This past Sunday was not only Easter Sunday, but it was also my first Easter Sunday at Grace Community Church. We had a wonderful time of celebration as we remembered the resurrection. I took this opportunity to preach on the importance of the resurrection. Many of us are very good at articulating the benefits of the cross for believers, but sometimes we have a harder time articulating exactly why the resurrection is so important. After decades of battling liberal we know it happened, and we know its important. But why? That’s what I addressed on Sunday. You can listen to the audio HERE. Also, all this week I will be posting thoughts on why the resurrection is important, beginning today on one reason why the resurrection is important.
I. The Resurrection is Biblical
The first reason that the resurrection is important is because the resurrection is biblical. That is to say, the church should emphasize the resurrection because the bible emphasizes the resurrection. This might seem simplistic, but really it’s just simple. The church should prioritize what the bible emphasizes, and the bible definitely emphasizes the resurrection.
a. It’s predicted in the Old Testament
We see this emphasis on the resurrection in the fact that the resurrection of Christ was predicted in the OT. We might think of the resurrection as only a NT event, but just as the death of Christ was predicted in the OT so too the resurrection was predicted. There are several places that we could go to in order to see the resurrection in the OT, but the clearest OT reference to the resurrection is most certainly found in Psalm 16:8-11.
“I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:8–11, ESV)
The words of this psalm certainly reflected the future hope of the people of God. However, that hope was tied to the prophecy of the resurrection of Jesus. Specifically the phrase “you will not… let your holy one see corruption.” The apostles definitely saw this as an OT prediction of the resurrection. For instance, in Acts 2:23-28 Peter says,
“this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. For David says concerning him, “ ‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’” (Acts 2:23–28, ESV)
Similarly, in Acts 13:34-37 the apostle Paul added,
“And as for the fact that he raised him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way, “ ‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.’ Therefore he says also in another psalm, “ ‘You will not let your Holy One see corruption.’ For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, but he whom God raised up did not see corruption.” (Acts 13:34–37, ESV)
The apostles definitely saw this passage as a prediction of the resurrection, and more broadly they saw the OT as pointing to the necessity of the resurrection. One might wonder where they got this from. The answer comes from Luke 24:26-27 where we find Jesus in the midst of the greatest lecture of OT studies ever conducted:
“Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:26–27, ESV)
Jesus reasoned from the OT scriptures that He had to suffer and then he would “enter into his glory.” That’s the resurrection, and if Jesus found the resurrection in the OT I think we can all agree that it’s there.
b. It’s recorded in the Gospels
The resurrection was predicted in the OT, which makes it all the more significant when the resurrection is recorded in the Gospels. Each of the Gospel accounts contains a resurrection narrative. Each writer included this in his account because they knew that resurrection was important. Jesus tried to clue them in on how important the resurrection was before he died:
“And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.” (Mark 8:31, ESV)
“for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.”” (Mark 9:31, ESV)
“saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles.” (Mark 10:33, ESV)
Despite Jesus’ clear warning and explanation they just didn’t seem to get it, that is until after it happened. In the days following the resurrection the disciples certainly “got” it. We know this not just because all four gospel writers tell us about it, but also because throughout the NT the apostles keep telling us about it.
c. It’s emphasized in Acts & the Epistles
Throughout the book of Acts Luke presents the disciples as the unique firsthand witnesses whose job it was to tell people that Jesus was no longer dead. That’s exactly what they did. There are too many passages that demonstrate this too look at now, but Acts 2:32 will serve as a good sample:
“This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.” (Acts 2:32, ESV)
See also: Acts 1:3-4, 2:24, 3:15, 4:1-2, 10, 5:30.
As the message of the Gospel went forth the emphasis upon the resurrection did not subside. For the apostle Paul the resurrection was high on the list of priorities. We see this in 1 Corinthians 15:3-7
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.” (1 Corinthians 15:3–7, ESV)
The resurrection made Paul’s final cut and was right up there with the cross as being of first importance.
The point in all of this is that if the resurrection is important in the bible it should be equally important in the church. The church should prioritize what the bible emphasizes, and the bible definitely emphasizes the resurrection.