The Significance of the Resurrection: The Foundation of the Gospel
Read 1 Corinthians 15:1-11
“For I delivered to you as of first importance, what I also received, that Christ died for our sins…and that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”
When we think of the gospel message, we first think of the death of Christ. Foundational in the redemptive message of Christ is his propitiatory death of Christ the cross on our behalf. His death on the cross was a penal substitutionary work necessary to bring us salvation. In other words, When Christ died on the cross, he took upon himself the punishment we deserved because of our sin. In doing so, Christ then satisfied the justice and righteousness of God that required sin to be punished. In Isaiah 53:6, we read, “The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” This is also affirmed in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf so that you might become the righteousness of God in Him.” In light of the emphasis that the Scripture places upon the death of Christ and the centrality of his death to our salvation, we rightfully focus on His death as the foundation of our salvation.
However, what we often overlook is the centrality of the resurrection to the gospel message. Just as the death of Christ was the fulfillment of the prophecies of the redemptive work of Christ (see Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53), we also find that the resurrection likewise was prophesied in the Old Testament. In Psalm 16:10 we a Messianic Psalm (Psalms that were penned by David to describe his own experience but ultimately fulfilled in the Messiah who was the ultimate fulfillment of the covenant that God made with David (2 Samuel 7), “For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol; Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.” In Psalm 22, after describing the Messiah's suffering and death, we find in verses 22-31 that the Messianic King will live and minister even after his death. That the Messiah would suffer death yet live was anticipated in Isaiah 53:10-11 and Daniel 12:2-3. The resurrection of Christ after three days was anticipated typologically (a type is an event in the past that served to illustrate a future event) in the life of Jonah (1:17) and Hosea (Hosea 6:1-2).
Thus, the death of Christ was not only anticipated in the Old Testament’s view of the Messiah but so the resurrection was central to the messianic expectation. For an individual to indeed be the Messiah, not only would he suffer and die, but he also would be raised from the dead by God. This is why the gospel is grounded in death and resurrection. In his gospel message, Paul affirms that Christ fulfilled the Scripture prophecies of his death by giving the historical, empirical evidence of his burial. His death is confirmed by those who witnessed both his death and his burial. Paul gives the historical empirical evidence of the resurrection by pointing out the number of individuals who were eyewitnesses of the fact. In total, Paul argues that there are over 500 individuals who can provide a personal testimony that they have seen the risen Savior.
All other religious leaders (i.e., Mohammad, Buddha, Confucius, etc.) claimed that their message was from God. But only Christ bases the legitimacy of his claim by pointing to his death and resurrection. Christianity is the only religion that stands or falls, not on the wisdom of its’ teacher, but upon the substitutionary death of its’ leader, proven in his resurrection.