While Easter Sunday has come and gone, the significance of that first Easter over 2,000 years ago remains at the center of the Christian’s life and faith every day of the year. And the Christian celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ not only on Easter Sunday, but also every single Sunday of the year, for Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week.
But what is so significant about the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead? Consider its significance for the past, present and future.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a past historical event that occurred over 2,000 years ago. Jesus the Messiah was crucified on a Roman cross, buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, and three days later he rose from the dead.
This historical event is so central to the Christian faith that the Apostle Paul writes, “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14).
Why would the Christian’s faith be in vain if Christ has not been raised? As Paul goes on to say, “And if Christ has not been raised your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17).
Paul is pointing to the significance of both Christ’s death and resurrection. Christ’s death on the cross was not like any other crucifixion in human history, because Jesus died on the cross not for his own sins and offenses (for he had none), but as the substitutionary sacrifice for his people.
He is the Lamb of God who paid the penalty that his people’s sins deserved in their place. He bore the wrath of God on the cross that his people deserved. And his resurrection three days later is proof that God the Father accepted Jesus’ sacrifice on behalf of his people.
As Paul writes, Jesus “was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification” (Romans 4:25). Because God the Father accepted Jesus’ sacrifice, those who place their faith in Christ’s work on their behalf have their sins forgiven and are declared righteous in God’s sight because of what Christ has done. The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead in the past is the most important event in human history.
This past event of Jesus’ resurrection, though, continues to have immense present significance. Those who presently place their faith in Jesus’ life, death and resurrection are those who experience a spiritual resurrection of their own, which Jesus described as being “born again” (John 3:3).
The Christian is given a new heart that hates sin and love God and neighbor. The Christian knows present blessings such as “peace with God” and the love of God “poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:1, 5). These are blessings that are given because Christ was raised from the dead, and now pours these blessings out upon his people.
But these are not the only blessings that flow from the resurrection of Christ. As the ancient Christian Nicene Creed states, “we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.” Christians are enabled to endure trials and suffering in this present life because we are looking forward to the life to come.
When the resurrected Jesus who is presently in heaven returns from heaven to earth, he will recreate this world into a new heavens and new earth (2 Peter 3:13). Then all who have trusted in their resurrected Savior will also be raised from the dead bodily, “For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:54).
Christians will be given glorified bodies to go along with their glorified souls in order to live forever in the presence of the Lord. This certain hope is the ultimate significance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Are you presently living in the future light of his past resurrection?
Pastor John Miller is the pastor at Grace Baptist Church in Carlisle.