MADISONVILLE, Texas (BP) — Pain is something all the world can relate to. But the cross upon which Jesus died was not the ultimate source of the pain He endured.
The cross took Jesus to the source of ultimate pain — death. He died so that He could eradicate sin, yes, but also vanquish death.
The world sees the cross as a foolish and absurd means of defeating death (1 Corinthians 1:18) because the cross kills. How can Jesus overpower death by dying?
But in the resurrection, Jesus delivered death a fatal blow when He walked out of the tomb. He met death on His terms and disarmed its ability to maintain power over the dead, leaving death powerless and dying. While the cross appears to be foolish to the world, those who are being saved can testify to its power because of what Jesus accomplished when He was raised from the dead.
The Gospel that lacks the resurrection is void of power and is useless. Without it, Christ would benefit no one, for He would still be dead. If Christ is still dead, then what hope do we have in the face of the looming reality that our lives will one day come to an end? There is none. The apostle Paul said that if Christ was not raised from the dead, then our faith in Christ is worthless — literally powerless (1 Corinthians 15:17).
And if we preach the resurrection of Christ, but fail to preach the resurrection of the saints from their graves, what hope would this kind of faith give us in this world? Sure, we could say that death is the gateway of heaven, that it is our friend in assisting us into the afterlife much like the Greek mythological figure Charon, the ferryman who led the deceased souls across the river Styx.
But how can death be our friend, when the Bible has declared death to be our enemy (1 Corinthians 15:26)?
There is no lasting victory of heaven if there is no resurrection of the dead, merely spiritual morphine that eases our discomfort while death continues his rampage.
Funerals, as reminders that death is our enemy, show no partiality to age, gender, race or social status. Death is an equal opportunist. This means that the entire world has a common adversary. But what weapon can be fashioned against such a foe? We could pull all of our resources together and seek ways to extend our lives, but this only delays the inevitable.
There exists only one weapon that can vanquish such an opponent — the Gospel. But what gives the Gospel the punch, that knocks death down permanently is the resurrection. When we fail to preach the resurrection, we fail to preach the Gospel.
What we believe about the resurrection of the dead impacts our preaching, our evangelism and every other aspect of our lives. The chief victory of Jesus is not that He died, but that even though He died, He lives. So if Jesus dies and then lives, He validates that He is indeed the resurrection and the life (John 11:25). And if He is the resurrection and the life, then those who believe in Him, even if they die will live.
The resurrection is the demonstrated power of God in Christ and fills every believer with the hope that death does not have the final say. The resurrection promises us a future where death is dead. For the one who said, “Lazarus, come forth,” will one day call us forth to everlasting life.