If you’ve ever renovated a house, or even just watched a show about renovating a house, you know the importance of load-bearing walls - they’re what hold everything else up. Christianity has its own load bearing wall - the resurrection of Jesus. If Christ wasn’t raised from the dead, then everything else about the Christian faith collapses, and we might as well call off this whole church thing.
And so, as we approach Easter—the annual reminder that we are lives changed by a risen Christ—it would be encouraging to look again at why the resurrection matters. The apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15, provides at least 7 reasons:
1. It matters because it means we really can be saved.
Paul clarified that “Christ died for our sins” (1 Corinthians 15:3), which is an amazing claim, but how do we know it’s true? How could we be sure that we are truly forgiven if Jesus remained dead? But he didn’t! Paul goes on to affirm that “he was raised from the dead on the third day” (v. 4). And that is why he began the chapter by saying, “It is this Good News that saves you...unless, of course, you believed something that was never true in the first place” (v. 2), which leads to our next point about the resurrection.
2. It matters because it actually happened—it’s a true story.
Let’s be honest—it sounds crazy to say that Jesus, or anyone, was raised from the dead. But Jesus himself predicted this miracle would happen. And Paul revealed that the risen Christ “was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died” (v. 6). That’s a lot of witnesses! And the fact that he mentioned that most of them were still living at that time sounds like an invitation to interview them and compare their stories. So, let’s briefly consider a few of them.
3. It matters because it leads to radically changed lives.
Paul reveals that the risen Christ “was seen by James” (v. 7), who was one of Jesus’ younger brothers. You may not know this, but Jesus’ siblings were embarrassed by him during his itinerant ministry, saying, “He’s out of his mind” (Mark 3:21). James was, quite understandably, a hardened skeptic about his older brother. Think about it: if your older brother said some of the crazy things about himself that Jesus did, wouldn’t you think he was nuts?! But when we read about the early church, James is one of its greatest leaders, boldly telling people that his older brother is the risen Savior! And that’s because of the resurrection.
Paul’s story is even more amazing. As he recounted, “Last of all...I also saw him [the risen Jesus]. For I am the least of all the apostles. In fact, I’m not even worthy to be called an apostle after the way I persecuted God’s church” (1 Corinthians 15:8-9). Think about it: what would it possibly take to change a determined Christian-hater into a fully devoted follower of Christ? Paul tells us—he encountered the risen Jesus! And Jesus is still changing lives today!
4. It matters because it validates everything about us.
Now we’re getting to the heart of the matter—why the resurrection truly is the load-bearing wall of the Christian faith. I’ll let Paul explain: “If Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. And we apostles would all be lying about God...And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world” (vv. 14-18).
Do you see what he’s saying? Because of Jesus’ resurrection, our faith is well-placed, we are truly forgiven, we belong to God, and we have hope beyond the grave! And that’s Paul’s next point.
5. It matters because it gives us real hope for the future.
Death looms for all of us. We don’t like to think about that, but it’s true. However, according to Paul, death is not the end of our story; rather, it’s the beginning of the life that is truly life! He reminds us that the risen Jesus “is the first of a great harvest of all who have died” (v. 20), clarifying that “everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life. But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back” (vv. 22-23). Our future is unbelievably bright because Jesus was raised from the dead!
6. It matters because it assures us of bodies built for eternity.
And when Jesus returns, something truly mind-blowing is going to happen: Our bodies will be raised and transformed! This prompts a truckload of practical questions (like, “Will it be my 18-year-old body, or my 60-year-old one?!”), but Paul’s central point is clear enough: “Our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die” (v. 53). And that’s exactly what will happen. Upon his return, Jesus “will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own” (Phil. 3:21).
7. It matters because it inspires us to live for Christ.
However, until Jesus returns, we’ve got work to do—and it’s not always easy for those who belong to him. And so, Paul concluded his chapter about the resurrection with this important word of encouragement: “So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless” (v. 58).
In other words, it is the resurrection of Jesus, and our future resurrection with those “glorious bodies” that await us, that keeps us focused on the task at hand. And what is that task? To introduce people to Jesus—the risen Jesus—and together fully follow him!