I’m obsessed with cults. Nothing captivates me like a documentary about cult leaders and their followers. I recently watched a documentary about David Koresh, leader of the Branch Davidians. It amazed me that someone could proclaim to be the messiah, with no evidence, and people were willing to follow him. Many of the living members still genuinely believe that David Koresh is the messiah and will return. The reality is they have placed their hope in a man whose body is deceased and whose soul is destined for an eternity separated from God. David Koresh was not who he said he was, and his movement has died.
Without the resurrection, Jesus would be another cult leader. The question that each of us must answer is simple. Who is Jesus? It’s a fallacy to believe that He never existed; there is much evidence supporting the life and death of Jesus. Where things get sticky is the resurrection. Our faith is largely based upon that. Within it lies the confirmation that Jesus Christ is Lord. Without it, Jesus falls into the category of liar or lunatic.
How we answer that Christology question has incredible implication on our daily lives and our salvation. The accuracy of the title “Lord Jesus Christ” is heavily rested upon the occurrence of the resurrection. Most major religions in the world teach that Jesus was a teacher or a prophet. The Bible teaches that Jesus is God! The resurrection proves that He is God! The apostle Paul states in 1 Corinthians 15:14-19 that without the resurrection, our faith is worthless. We are to be the most pitied people if Jesus never experienced a bodily resurrection.
The resurrection is paramount to satisfy the claim that Jesus is God incarnate. It is important to remember that Jesus’ exit from the tomb is equally important as his entrance into the tomb. Without that, He is another dead cult leader and not worthy of worship. But, the tomb is empty, and that changes everything! He is alive!
The resurrection fulfills Old Testament prophesy.
Psalm 16:10 (ESV)
10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol or let your holy one see corruption.
The psalmist David was saying that the holy one's soul would not be left in a temporary holding place where souls stayed until they were resurrected. He would go on to say that your holy one will see no corruption. Corruption is translated in the NIV as “decay," meaning the body of the holy one would see no decay. David was not speaking of himself, because the body of David has seen decay and is still in the grave. David was prophesying of the resurrection of Jesus Christ over 1000 years before it would occur. His soul would not be abandoned to a holding place because it would be reunited with His physical body!
Jesus prophesied about His resurrection
Mark 8:31 (ESV)
31 for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.”
Throughout history many have claimed they have supreme authority, but never in history, aside from Jesus, has anyone prophesied about their death and resurrection, and it actually happened.
The resurrection answers the question, who is Jesus?
John 10: 17-18 (ESV)
17 ….I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have the authority to lay it down, and I have the authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.
The author of life has the ability to give life. Only He can remove the sting of death. Believing in the resurrection is believing in God. Believing in the resurrection is to believe that Jesus is God; for He has the power to lay down and take up life: His and ours.
Tim Keller said of the resurrection, “If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said; if he didn’t rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching, but whether or not he rose from the dead.”
The glorious truth is this. Those who believe in Jesus Christ will be raised just as He was.
1 Corinthians 15: 20-23 (ESV)
20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.
Because He is the Messiah, because He is God, He has the power and authority to save and to resurrect those who believe in Him. That is the most amazing historical event to ever occur, and it revolves around the resurrection.