Holiness Today asked some theologians a question that perhaps all people of faith have asked at one time - "Why Does the Resurrection of Jesus Christ Matter?" This is a key element of Christian theology and one that sets the course of faith for the believer. Learn from these insightful responses.
Bedrock of Christian Faith
by Filimão Chambo
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the bedrock of the Christian faith. God's plan for salvation throughout the Scriptures includes not only the suffering and sacrificial death of Christ for the salvation of the world, but also the victorious Resurrection for our justification (Genesis 3:15, Isaiah 53, Mark 9:31, John 2:18-21, Romans 3:24, 10:9, 1 Corinthians 15).
The Resurrection fulfilled all that was foretold about Jesus (Luke 24:44) and revived the faith of His disciples. Although Jesus told of His death and resurrection, His followers did not understand nor accept this as a possibility (Matthew 16:21-23, Luke 9:22, 24:6-8). The death of Christ seemed to suggest that God's plan for salvation and the establishment of the kingdom of God failed. Their hope was shattered by His death. His resurrection and witness thereof reaffirmed God's faithfulness and revived hope and faith in Christ (John 2:22, Luke 24:23-35, Acts 1:3).
The resurrection of Christ symbolizes victory over sin and death. Believers can enjoy transformed lives and reconciled relationships with God in and through Christ the risen Lord (1 John 3:1-10). The followers of Christ are guaranteed to enjoy eternal life as the result of the victory of Christ over death (1 John 3:1-3, 1 Corinthians 15:12, 20, and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
The resurrection of Christ reassures us that God has power and authority over His creation. Not even death can limit His power. He can bring to life that which is dead. "Death has been swallowed up in victory" (1 Corinthians 15:54) so "in Christ all will be made alive" (1 Corinthians 15:22, also see 1 John 4:9).
Filimão Chambo is director of the Africa Region for the Church of the Nazarene.*
*Update 2017: Filimão Chambo was recently elected as the 42nd General Superintendent for the Church of the Nazarene.
Validates Who He Was and What He taught
by Jim Edlin
The resurrection of Jesus matters a great deal to Christians. It is at the very heart of our faith. Christ's resurrection infuses us with courage and shapes the way we live our lives. There are several reasons why it is important.
First, the resurrection of Jesus validates who He was and what He taught. Jesus had told His disciples that he would die and rise again from the dead. Following Easter, His followers knew that Jesus could be trusted and that He really was who He said He was.
Christ's resurrection also demonstrates God's power over sin. The final outcome of sin is death. When God raised Jesus from the dead He conquered our greatest enemy. God altered the forces of nature along with the ultimate effects of sin. The Creator of life created life once again.
This also means that believers have hope for their own resurrection after they die. Because Jesus lives, we can also live again. Paul told the Corinthians that Jesus is "the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep" 1 Corinthians 15:20. Christians look forward to following Jesus into eternity with God.
As we anticipate our final reward, we can experience life with Jesus right now. Christ's resurrection assured the possibility that people can have a real relationship with a living person. Jesus is not the dead hero of our faith. He is our living Friend and Guide. We can walk each day in communion with a living Savior.
Jim Edlin is professor of biblical literature and languages in the School of Christian Ministry and Formation at MidAmerica Nazarene University.
Without It there Would Be No Christian Faith
by Thomas A. Noble
The Resurrection is central to Christian faith. Here are five reasons why that is true.
1. Without the Resurrection, there would be no Christian faith. Other so-called messiahs were crucified and their followers melted away. Only the resurrection of Jesus can explain historically the rise of the Christian Church.
2. Only the Resurrection demonstrates that the Cross was a victory. Jesus allowed the evil powers to do their worst to him but through the Resurrection we understand that they were defeated. Had Jesus not risen from the dead, the Cross would have been the final defeat of God.
3. The Resurrection reveals that the Cross demonstrates God's love. A cruel and horrifying Crucifixion seemed to mean that the Crucified One had been abandoned by God. How could it possibly reveal God's love? But the Resurrection reveals that in Jesus, God himself was hanging there, bearing the sins of the world.
4. The Resurrection reveals that through the Cross we were reconciled to God. A holy God must be stirred with a grieving wrath and a wrathful grief at all the abuse, cruelty, and violence of the human race. But the Resurrection reveals that in Jesus human guilt is canceled and sin cleansed.
5. The bodily resurrection of Jesus means that we too shall rise. Redemption is not only spiritual but also physical and cosmic. The risen Lord is the prototype of the new humanity who will live in the renewed creation - the new heavens and the new earth.
In short, the Resurrection means that Jesus is God Incarnate.
Thomas A. Noble is professor of theology at Nazarene Theological Seminary in Kansas City.
Christ Is Victor
by Floyd Cunningham
Every Thursday of Holy Week tens of thousands of pilgrims, walking many miles, pass by the seminary where I serve. They make their way to a shrine and spend the night in the town square in front of the church and walk back home early on Friday morning. On other days that precede Friday, you can see men flogging their own bare backs with small whips until they bleed. Here and there someone, his face covered, carries a large, heavy cross through the barrio. His friends, dressed as Roman soldiers, scourge him as he walks along. In this way, he feels that he is atoning for his sins. On Friday, malls are closed. Traditionally, few people venture out, there are no cars on the roads.
Easter Sunday, then, is anticlimactic. Life is back to normal. Malls are open and busy once more.
It forces one to reflect on the real meaning of Easter. Isn't it finished on Friday? Hasn't it all been done on the Cross?
But Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:14, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith." Were there no Resurrection, we would remember Christ as a great martyr worthy of following, but not worship him as the Great Savior.
What the Resurrection brings to this world is God's peace, God's presence, and God's power.
When Christ appeared on the day of his resurrection to his disciples, huddled in fear of the Jews, he speaks shalom, "peace." The anxiety of a hopeless existence, one lived without Jesus and without cause, evaporates. He breathes on them his Spirit and bids them go and forgive. The fear departs because his presence remains. He is with us, the Resurrection says. He is our ever-present help in time of trouble. So close, it seems that just as he walked, we walk along. Just as he talked, he tells us we are his own.
We are on a pathway, on a pilgrimage with him. He shows us the Scriptures that tell us about him. Whether through waters or flood, through fires or sorrows, he - God himself - leads his dear children along. Through life, he is our Power. Life is not left to fate. Life is not controlled by spirits. We fear not them. Through the Resurrection, Christ has won life's great battles over evil, over sin, even over death. Christ is Victor.
Christ has fought and has won the battle for us. He has walked life's pilgrimage for us, he has been scourged for our sins, he has bled for us. Within the darkness of Friday, we see the radiance of light emanating from Sunday.
Floyd T. Cunningham has served as president of Asia-Pacific Nazarene Theological Seminary in the Philippines.
Holiness Today, March/April 2011
Please note: This article was originally published in 2011. All facts, figures, and titles were accurate to the best of our knowledge at that time but may have since changed.