Christianity stands or falls upon this wonderful and most glorious truth – that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, conquered death and the grave. In his epistle to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul argued brilliantly for the resurrection of our glorious Saviour. If Christ had not risen from the dead, then our faith is vain (I Cor 15: 14) and “we are found false witnesses of God” (v 15). This means that those who died in Christ “are perished” (v 18). What disappointment and misery await believers who have placed their hope in Christ – “if Christ be not raised” and “if in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (v 19).
J F Brown’s comments on verse 19 are worth noting: “If our hopes in Christ were limited to this life only, we should be, of all men, most to be pitied; namely, because, while others live unmolested, we are exposed to every trial and persecution, and, after all, are doomed to bitter disappointment in our most cherished hope; for all our hope of salvation, even of the soul (not merely of the body), hangs on the resurrection of Christ, without which His death would be of no avail to us (Eph 1: 19-20; I Pet 1: 3). The heathen are ‘without hope’ (Eph 2: 12; I Thess 4: 13). We should be even worse, for we should be also without present enjoyment (I Cor 4: 9)” (J F Brown Commentary).
“The resurrection … is the keystone of the arch of Christianity, for if that fact could be disproved, the whole fabric of the Gospel would fall to the ground” (C H Spurgeon).
The empty tomb affirms the truths of the Gospel and the sufficiency of our Saviour’s sacrifice on the cross of Calvary. His resurrection is concrete proof that He has satisfied the justice and holiness of God, and has fully atoned for our sins: “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. But this Man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God” (Heb 9: 28; 10: 12).
o Victory over the grave
Through His resurrection, our Saviour overcame the power of death: “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Heb 2: 14-15). He also triumphed gloriously over Satan and the grave: “And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Col 2: 15). When Jesus rose from the dead, He broke the bands of death and proved that He, as God, rules sovereign over all.
Christ’s resurrection means that we who are His redeemed will also triumph over the grave, for we are “begotten again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (I Pet. 1: 3). Like the apostle Paul, we can confidently proclaim: “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again” (Rom 8: 34).
o Our blessed hope
We thank God that we, like Christ, will have victory over the grave. Let us take comfort that though we may have our earthly struggles and sorrows, we can look forward to that glorious day when “we shall be like him” (I Jn 3: 2).
This was also the blessed hope and encouragement of the apostle Paul who suffered much during his ministry as “the apostle of the Gentiles” (Rom 11: 13): “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (II Cor 5: 1). With this blessed prospect of eternal glory, Paul was willing to endure all the afflictions that the Lord had ordained for him: “For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake” (Acts 9: 16).
“The prospect of being raised up to eternal life and glory was all that was needful to make trials welcome, and to uphold him (Paul) in the midst of privations and toils. And so we, if we are assured of this great truth, shall welcome trials also, and shall be able to endure afflictions and persecutions. They will soon be ended; and the eternal glory in the morning of the resurrection shall be more than a compensation for all that we shall endure in this life” (Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible).
Today, as we commemorate Resurrection Sunday, we thank God for our Saviour’s conquest over death and the grave. Indeed, Christ is risen. Hallelujah! We join the apostle Paul in his triumphant cry: “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Cor 15: 55-57).
Our Saviour’s resurrection is the guarantee that at the appointed time, we, His redeemed people, shall also be raised to eternal glory. May these thoughts of our Risen Saviour encourage us to be “stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (I Cor 15: 58). Our Lord’s return draweth nigh. May He find us faithful.