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T-6 Days to the Greatest Celebration in the Christian Calendar

April 19, 2011

You thought it was Christmas? Well, that’s second best to be sure. But the number one most important celebration in Christianity is undoubtedly Easter. Without that, there’d be no Christianity. As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:17, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.”

Got that? Futile. Might as well give up being a Christian right now if there is no resurrection. Without that, all of Jesus’ claims about himself, his deity, his ability to forgive sins and connect people to the Father, are worthless. Without the resurrection, all the faith or good deeds in the world are meaningless; all your time spent in church is meaningless; all the times you write “Christian” on a survey card because the other religions “just don’t jive with my worldview” are meaningless; all the times you pray to get out of trouble (and forget to pray when things are alright) are meaningless; anytime you sing worship songs in church or play CCM in your car, are meaningless. In fact, without the resurrection, the entire tent of Christianity collapses. The resurrection is the pillar keeping this tent up.

Why is that? Because if there is no resurrection, then the entire premise of Christianity is a sham. God came to Earth to die for the sins of humanity, to restore them to a right relationship with him, so that through his Son, they might inherit eternal life. If Jesus only DIED, then Christianity would be like every other religion on Earth – a bunch of people following the moral teachings of a great DEAD prophet. His claims of deity – as the Son of God – would be baseless, and he would be a liar. And we might as well throw out the whole book if the VIP within it is a liar.

Jesus death is significant, but it is only half of the story. It would be like watching Empire Strikes Back without seeing Return of the Jedi (yes, I’m a geek). The good guys are defeated at the end. But where is the light at the end of the tunnel? Answer: in Jesus’ resurrection. As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:20, “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” There’s the hope.

You know that most famous verse: John 3:16? “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Most people think that’s talking about Jesus’ death on the cross for the salvation of their sins. I don’t think so. This verse is much more about Jesus resurrection than his death. His death is summed up in the first half of the verse, “that he gave his only Son,” but, his resurrection is contained within the second half of the verse, “should not perish but have eternal life.” Just as Jesus himself did not perish, but was resurrected on the third day, as “the firstfruits of those who have [already died],” neither will we, if we put our faith in Jesus (“that whoever believes in him”) to forgive our sins. This is God’s great promise to us. Jesus is our example not only in his life and death, but also in his resurrection.

“Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:54b-55). There is no longer any death, nor any fear of death for the Christian, for we know that like Jesus, we will be resurrected to join him in heaven at the end of days.

But don’t just take my word for it. Let a secularist describe the situation for you as he sees it: “If one had any real evidence that, indeed, Jesus did return from the dead, then that is the beginning of a dropping of a series of dominoes that takes us to all kinds of wonderful things. It assures an afterlife and all kinds of things that we would all hope are true.” This quote is from Playboy founder Hugh Hefner (referenced in Lee Strobel’s The Case for the Real Jesus, page 105). He is not a Christian, true, but even he can recognize the significance and the power of the resurrection. How can we do any less?

So, I implore you – if you are a Christian; if you’ve ever considered yourself a Christian; if you’ve ever been to a Christian church (or Catholic); if you once considered yourself a Christian but have fallen away for a time; if you’re curious about Christianity; if you’re absolutely confused about Jesus and Christianity, but find his story intriguing – then find a church this Easter and go to it. Easter is the pivotal day for Christianity (and also the reason the early church started worshiping on Sunday, rather than Saturday the Sabbath day). Without Easter, without the resurrection, we might as well all just sleep in on every Sunday. It’s THAT important. So find a church on Easter Sunday, no matter where you are in the world, and go.

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I’m quite excited about Easter this year (if you couldn’t tell), so I plan to post SOMETHING every day leading up to the BIG day. Stay tuned.

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