I came across an article a couple of days ago on the Huffington Post entitled Is a Bodily Resurrection of Jesus Necessary for Easter to Have Significance? In this article, written by Steve McSwain, a former pastor who now thinks there is more than one way to God, I found the following exerpt:
Soon, millions of Christians will gather to celebrate Easter. For many of them, the literal, not merely metaphorical, resurrection of Jesus — that is, a bodily resuscitation — is necessary for any of it to have validity.
Is this necessary? Does the resurrection need the resuscitation of Jesus’ body to have any transformative significance in the 21st century?
It doesn’t for me. Although, like many other Christians, I grew up being taught that on the third day after his crucifixion Jesus’ body, which was wrapped and buried in a tomb, miraculously came back to life, and he wiggled out of his clothes, got up and walked out. When I got a little older, I began to question both the validity of this version of the story and the necessity of a physical “come-back-to-life” miracle in what we now know as Easter.
Why have I come to believe the resurrection story is more metaphorical than literal?
Well, the most obvious reason is, it’s more believable. Maybe it’s easy for you to live in a mythical, magical world of make-believe (and, if so, so be it), but I cannot.
In one fell swoop, McSwain denied both the historicity and necessity of the Resurrection of Jesus.Â If you’re like me, you know these denials are problematic, and, if you’re like me, you sometimes have trouble remembering exactlyÂ why these denials are problematic. Â So I thought I’d write a post to answer McSwain’s statements and help preserve the beauty, wonder, reality and necessity of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The Resurrection of Christ Actually Happened.
I have written an article on the historicity (i.e., whether it actually happened) of the Resurrection, but I decided to link to a fantastic series of articles on The Resurgence website that deal with exactly this issue.
In all fairness, though, while this series of articles does supply great clues that the Resurrection actually happened, it does not provide not supply proof that the Resurrection actually happened. Â This should cause you to wonder why I would entitle this section the way I did. Â The answer, though dissatisfying to some, is that I believe the Resurrection of Jesus is an absolute reality because the Bible says it is. Â And I realize I lose some people with that answer, but so it goes.
The Resurrection of Christ Is An Absolute Necessity.
In 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, Paul reminded the church at Corinth that the Resurrection is no secondary issue, but is of the absolute highest importance.
3 I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures
The Problems with a Resurrection-less Christianity.
Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 15:12-19 what the Christian life would be like had Christ not risen from the dead:
1. Our character would be compromised (v.15).
Were there no Resurrection, we would be false prophets, liars about the nature and work of God.
2. Our judgment would be sure (v.17b).
There would be no Good News of acceptance with God through the forgiveness of sin if God had forsaken the sin-bearer Himself.
3. Our faith would be worthless (v.14, 17a).
It would be foolish to trust a Savior to resurrect His people from physical and spiritual death who could not rescue Himself from physical and spiritual death.
4. Our lives would be wasted (v.14, 19, 29-32).
Our falsely hoping, Gospel-telling and needlessly self-sacrificial lives should cause us to be more pitied than anyone else on the planet.
Nine Reasons the Resurrection Is Absolutely Necessary.
The Scripture says that Jesus’ resurrection is absolutely necessary because it…
1. Fulfills biblical prophecy (Ps. 16:10, cf. Acts 2:27-32).
In Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost, he explains to the crowd gathered that David prophesied about the Resurrection in Psalm 16:10. Â By virtue of the Resurrection being prophesied, one might simply say, “The Resurrection had to happen because God said it would happen.”
2. Proves that Jesus is God (Rom. 1:3-4, Acts 2:24).
When a man defeats by His own power the one thing that every other man in the history of the world has been absolutely powerless to overcome on his own (i.e., death), it is not at all difficult to believe the man when He claims to be God.
3. Demonstrates Jesusâ€™ trustworthiness (Rom. 5:9-10).
4. Secures our new birth, or “regeneration” (1 Pet. 1:3).
5. Supplies our right standing, or “justification,” before God (Rom. 4:25, 1 Cor. 15:17).
6. Enables Jesusâ€™ permanent intercession for us, ensuring that we are and always will be loved, and never condemned, by God (Rom. 8:34).
7. Empowers our growth in holiness, or “sanctification” (Rom. 6:4-11, 1 Cor. 15:17).
8. Motivates our persistence in the faith (1 Cor. 15:58).
9. Seals our future bodily resurrection, or “glorification” (1 Cor. 15:21-22).
The Resurrection of Christ Demands a Response.
Simply put, here’s the necessary response to what is undoubtedly one of the most important events in the history of the world:
1. Humbly admit that your sin put Jesus to death.
2. Recognize that death could not hold Jesus.
3. Genuinely believe that because death could not hold Jesus, neither will death be able to hold those whose hope for forgiveness and eternal life are in the atoning death and resurrection of Christ.
4. Value Jesus more than the collective worth of your possessions, goals, aspirations, and even your life (Mt. 13:44-46, Phil. 3:7-14).