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What if the Resurrection Never Happened?

The women approach the tomb with their burial perfumes and ointments in hand. They find Roman soldiers guarding the entrance to Jesus’ tomb. They ask the guards for permission to anoint Jesus’ corpse with burial perfumes. The guards agree, so long as they can monitor the situation to make sure nothing suspicious happens.

They open the tomb and carefully watch the women as they anoint the lifeless body of Jesus as part of the burial process. The women are crushed. They thought Jesus really was the Messiah, but here He lies dead.

Their tears mix with their burial ointments as they reverently perform this act of kindness for Jesus of Nazareth’s corpse. When they finish, the soldiers escort them out. The guards seal the tomb and stand watch. They have been warned to watch out for Jesus’ disciples.

The Roman guards should not worry about Jesus’ disciples. They have been hiding in fear, thinking what just happened to Jesus is about to happen to them. Walking slowly, the women go to deliver their eyewitness report to a few disciples. They explain all they saw at Jesus’ tomb and how they cared for His corpse. Dejection permeates the room. Suddenly, their future is bleak and identities are crushed.

Peter can’t stop thinking about his last exchange with Jesus. Before he went to the cross, Jesus warned Peter that he would deny him. Peter was headstrong. He could not imagine a scenario where he would deny Jesus. He confidently told Jesus he would not deny Him. Yet he did. With the words of his third and final denial still fresh off his lips, Peter locked eyes with Jesus. Peter’s heart and soul is crushed as he begins to weep uncontrollably. He runs away from Jesus in the darkest hour of their lives (see Luke 22:60-62).

On that somber Sunday, the women give their report and the tears stream down Peter’s cheeks. His identity fell like a house of cards. How can he move forward in life? He thought Jesus was going to make him a fisher of men, but all he can do now is return to being a fisherman.

As the sun sets on that day, Thomas, with his head and face concealed, quietly slips into the house where the other disciples are hiding. He wasn’t with them when the women gave their report. Whispering, he asks if there is any news. He can tell from the looks on their faces that the news isn’t going to be good. The disciples confirm his doubts. Jesus is still dead and in the grave. There was no Resurrection after all.

Jesus’ skeptical brother James tried his best to comfort Mary his mother. He angrily thought, “How could Jesus deceive His own mother like this!” If Jesus were still alive, James would have given Him a piece of his mind. Since Jesus is not alive, James voices his displeasure with Jesus to all who will hear him. He soundly rejects Jesus’ Messianic claims and begs others to reject Him too.

A couple followers of Jesus return to the garden tomb the next day, hoping they had misunderstood His promise of resurrection. The guards are still there. Nothing has been disturbed. It is deathly silent.

One by one, the followers of Jesus go back to their old lives. There are a few holdouts who attempt to proclaim Jesus is the Messiah, but a young man named Saul of Tarsus makes quick work of them. He arrests them and brings them to trial for rebellion. Within a couple generations, the name of Jesus of Nazareth is forgotten along with the likes of Theudas and Judas of Galilee, other first-century revolutionary leaders whose deaths marked the end of their movements (Acts 5:34-39).

Without the Resurrection there is no church, no New Testament, and no Christianity.

The importance of Jesus’ Resurrection to the Christian faith cannot be overstated. If Jesus died on the cross but did not rise from the dead, we would not have salvation from our sins. That sounds like a bold claim to make, but it is biblical.

Seven Deadly Implications

There are other serious implications if Jesus has not risen from the dead. Paul outlines these for us in 1 Corinthians 15:13-19. Paul understood the Corinth-ians struggled with belief in resurrection. The Jews of that day were divided on belief in the general resurrection.

The Pharisees believed there would be a general resurrection of the righteous at the end of the age while the Sadducees denied resurrection altogether. The Greco-Roman mindset viewed the physical world as evil. Death was escape from this limited world. They struggled to understand why anyone would want to come back into their physical body once they had gained release from its limitations after death.

Thus, Paul writes to explain how belief in resurrection changes everything about Christianity.

Consider these seven serious implications:

  1. If there is no Resurrection of dead, then Jesus Christ is not risen (1 Cor. 15:13).

We outlined what this would look like in the previous section. Without Jesus’ deity, death and Resurrection, there is no Christianity. Period.

  1. If Jesus Christ is not risen from the dead, then our preaching is meaningless (1 Cor. 15:14).

What is the point in preaching if Jesus is not risen? Without Jesus’ deity, death and Resurrec-tion, we have no good news to tell. Church services and ministries are utterly pointless without Jesus’ Resurrection.

  1. If Jesus Christ is not risen from the dead, then our faith is meaningless (1 Cor. 15:14).

Worse than meaningless ministry, the entire Christian belief system is worthless without the Resurrection. Why should anyone believe in Jesus if His body is still in the grave? He would not be God if He were still dead. Do you remember how He claimed to be the Resurrection and the life (John 11:25)? If He did not rise from the dead, He would be a liar, a deceiver and a fraud.

  1. If Jesus Christ is not risen from the dead, then we are liars and deceivers (1 Cor. 15:15).

If we promote Jesus as Messiah without the Resurrection, we are equally guilty of lying and deception. We would be propping up belief in a false witness of the one true God, which puts us in clear violation of several of the 10 Commandments in Exodus 20. In short, without the Resurrection, Christians would be some of the most wicked people on Earth today.

  1. If Jesus Christ is not risen from the dead, then we do not have forgiveness of sins (1 Cor. 15:17).

I opened this section with a strong statement and promised to offer biblical proof to back it up. Consider this line of reasoning from 1 Cor. 15:17, “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.” Without the Resurrection, we cannot be forgiven of our sins through Jesus Christ. Anyone who has believed in Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins has believed a lie if He is still in the grave. Salvation would not be complete without the deity, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

  1. If Jesus Christ is not risen from the dead, then all those who died believing in Jesus are not in heaven (1 Cor. 15:18).

The implications keep getting worse. All those who died believing in Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins have perished without salvation if Jesus is still in the grave. All those who thought they were going to heaven by believing in Jesus would not be there without His Resurrection. Think of the millions, billions of people this would impact.

  1. If Jesus Christ is not risen from the dead, then people ought to pity Christians for their false hope
    (1 Cor. 15:19).

Christians have no reason for hope, joy and peace if Jesus is not risen. Paul argues that people should feel sorry for Christians because they have been duped into believing a lie. “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable [to be pitied]” (1 Cor. 15:19).

What a sorry lot Christians would be without the Resurrection. Without it, we have no Savior, no salvation, no eternal life, no heaven, no hope, no faith, no joy, no peace, no New Testament, no church, and no good news.

Jesus is Alive!

“But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Cor. 15:20). With these words, Paul turns these horrible implications on their head. Jesus is risen! He is alive! Because He lives we have good news, the church, the New Testament, peace, joy, faith, hope, heaven, eternal life, salvation and a living Savior.

Paul calls Jesus the “firstfruits” of those who have died believing in Him. This term simply means that Jesus is the first of a series. As Paul unfolds the rest of this glorious resurrection chapter, we find hope in our own future resurrection and the transformation of our mortal bodies into a resurrection body like Jesus’.

Those who place their hope in Jesus have this blessed hope of eternal life with Him forever. He has blazed the trail of our faith so that we can follow after Him. He is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6).

How can we be so confident that Jesus is alive? Consider these 12 clues confirming His Resurrection.

  1. We have early eyewitness testimony that Jesus’ followers believed they encountered the resurrected Jesus.
  2. The book of Acts was written less than 30 years after Jesus’ crucifixion. Scholars have confirmed the historical reliability of people, places, and patterns described in Acts. From beginning to end, the book of Acts demonstrates the Resurrection of Jesus was central to the establishment and expansion of the first church.
  3. Peter, John, and the other disciples boldly proclaimed, “Jesus is alive,” even when it caused them harm and threatened their lives.
  4. Saul of Tarsus was an enemy of the first church but was transformed when he encountered the resurrected Jesus.
  5. The tomb is empty.
  6. First-century non-Christians never denied the tomb was empty.
  7. Each of the four Gospels records women were the first to arrive at the empty tomb. In a day when a woman’s testimony was valued less than a robber’s, why would the Gospel authors include this if it were not true?
  8. Doubters like Thomas and skeptics like James the brother of Jesus were transformed after they encountered the resurrected Jesus.
  9. Jesus made no attempt to conceal His post-Resurrection identity. He asked doubters to come close and touch Him. He ate food with others on multiple occasions.
  10. Jesus appeared to over 500 people on multiple occasions during a 40-day period after His Resurrection.
  11. These eyewitnesses were transformed from cowards trying to save their own lives into boldly proclaiming Jesus was alive, even when it cost them dearly.
  12. Not one of these eyewitnesses went back on their story or admitted it was a lie. They stood firm the rest of their days, proclaiming Jesus was alive.

Would you be willing to die for something you knew was a lie? Would you walk away from the religion of your forefathers to follow Jesus if you were not convinced He truly was the Messiah-God whom He claimed to be? The very existence of the church and the New Testament demonstrate many were convinced by Jesus’ Resurrection from the dead.

What about you? Are you willing to follow the evidence to its logical conclusion? Jesus died and rose again for you because He loves you. He does not want you to perish in your unbelief. He wants you to experience His radical love and life with Him that begins now and lasts forever. Don’t just understand this truth in your head. Believe it in your heart. Receive Jesus’ gift of life that is being extended to you today.

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Josh Davis

SWRC Staff Evangelist Josh Davis accepted Jesus Christ as Savior at a young age and grew up in a preacher’s home. While preparing for a career in pharmacy, God redirected Josh’s heart, mind, and future to prepare for ministry. He earned a Master of Divinity from Southern Evangelical Seminary near Charlotte, NC. He has served his home church in pastoral ministry since 2007. God has blessed Josh with a lovely wife and two wonderful kids.

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