What If Christ Had Not Risen?
April 11, 2020
Jesus died on the cross on Good Friday. But just as He himself foretold, He rose from the dead on the third day. Praise God! He has risen! But what if he had not come back to life? What if He did not rise again? What would this have meant to us as Christians and even to the whole world?
If we understand the importance of Christ’s resurrection, we would have a better appreciation not just of the faith that we profess but of how God has given us hope for tomorrow that cannot be found in any other way.
So let’s take a look at some of the implications of a scenario where Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead.
Christianity Would Have Been Fake
During His life on earth, there were a few things that Jesus Christ predicted that would come to pass. Among this is that He would die and that He would rise again in three days (John 2:18-22; Matthew 12:29-40; Matthew 16:21). And He did. This prediction wasn’t a secret that he only told His disciples. You know, just in case it didn’t happen. Many people knew about it, no less than the chief priests and Pharisees (Matthew 27:62-64), and they informed Pontius Pilate and convinced him to secure the tomb so that Jesus’ disciples can’t come in the night, steal His body, and claim that He had risen. Imagine how happily avenged the Pharisees would have felt if on Monday, Jesus was still lying dead in His tomb. Imagine what a laughing stock Christianity would have been if He whom we claim to be the Messiah was just another dead prophet like those before Him.
But He is not. He IS the promised Messiah, and He is as alive today as the Son of God was alive before He was even born on earth. So we can rejoice in what we believe – that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is alive and is now seated at the right hand of the God the Father.
Christianity Would have been Just Another Religion
You may have heard this before, that one thing that separates Christianity from all the other world religions is that its Head is the only One who died and rose again from the dead, and that no other religion can claim as such. Mohammed lived, and he died. Buddha lived, and he died. Although this is true, many ancient stories tell about people who have died and have risen back to life. Near Eastern religions allude to gods who died and rose again, e.g., Orisis and Baal (Frazer, 1922). Achilles, the hero of the Trojan War, after dying was said to have been resurrected by Zeus to immortality upon the request of his divine mother Thetis (Endsjø, 2009).
But these stories are generally myths and legends that come from writings that do not have credible historical basis. This is not the case with Christ’s resurrection. (For a summary of arguments proving this, see these nice videos here and here that were produced by Reasonable Faith.)
Aside from this, none of these individuals have accepted the title the “Son of the living God” just as Jesus did (Matthew 16:16-17). Jesus is God incarnate. And He said that only He has the authority to lay His life down and the authority to take it up again (John 10:18)
Christianity is unique in that only our Lord Jesus Christ bodily rose again to life and has remained alive up to this day and will do so forevermore (Revelations 1:8). And He will come again to judge the living and the dead (2 Timothy 4:1).
Jesus’ Deity Would Have Been False
If Jesus had not risen from the dead, He would have been just an ordinary man like any other prophet or religious leader. The God that we know has power over death. Jesus Himself even said that He is “the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in [Him] will live even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in [Him] will never die” (John 11:25-26). How could He even claim this if He were not God? Worse, how could He even be God if He cannot conquer death? As the great Italian philosopher Anselm of Canterbury of the 11th century said, God is the “greatest conceivable Being.” How could the greatest conceivable Being die?
But Jesus Christ did not remain dead. He rose again and conquered death itself. That’s why Paul could say, “’Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:55-57)
Jesus, the Son of God, who had no sin and who could not be kept in the grave, has conquered sin and death!
The World Would Have Been Hopeless
If Jesus had not resurrected, none of us would have any hope of eternal life. When we die, we’d remain dead with no hope of rising again. There would not be any such thing as “we’re going to a better place.” Death would either mean eternal damnation or just six feet underground. Period. Just as Paul had said, “And if Christ had not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” (1 Corinthians 15:17)
But to those who have repented of their sins and have made Jesus Christ their Lord and Savior, though they may die once here on earth, there will be no such thing as a “second death.” The Bible says, “Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them…” (Revelations 20:6) Because Christ has overcome death, He has also given His followers the victory over the power of death.
This is our eternal hope – that Jesus Christ rose from the grave on the third day and gave us the opportunity to be one among those who will one day rise again from the dead, just as He has. As Ravi Zacharias writes, the power of Christ’s resurrection is “the ultimate message of hope beyond all hopes; in fact, it is the ultimate grounding of hope.”
Friend, if you give your life to Jesus Christ today, you will receive that eternal hope that He offers. It is a choice that only you can make.
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