Summary: The resurrection of Christ is essential to our faith for without it we have nothing.
It was June 18, 1815, the Battle of Waterloo. The French under the command of Napoleon were fighting the allied forces of the British, Dutch, and Germans under the command of Wellington. The people of England depended on a system of signals to find out how the battle was going. One of these signals was on the tower of Winchester Cathedral.
Late in the day it flashed the signal: “W - E - L - L - I - N - G - T - O - N - - - D - E - F - E - A - T - E - D - - -.” Just at that moment a fog cloud made it impossible to read the message. The news of defeat quickly spread throughout the city. The whole countryside was sad and gloomy when they heard the news that their country had lost the war. Suddenly, the fog lifted, and the remainder of the message could be read. The message had four words, not two. The complete message was: “W - E - L - L - I - N - G - T - O - N - - - D - E - F - E - A - T - E - D - - - T - H - E - - - E - N - E - M - Y!” It took only a few minutes for the good news to spread. Sorrow was turned into joy, defeat was turned into victory!
So it was when Jesus was laid in the tomb. Hope had died in the hearts of Jesus’ most loyal friends. After the frightful crucifixion, the fog of disappointment and misunderstanding had crept in on the friends of Jesus. They had read only part of the message. “Christ defeated” was all they knew. But then on the third day the fog of disappointment and misunderstanding lifted, and the world received the complete message: “Christ defeated death!” Defeat was turned into victory; death was turned into life!
I want us to consider one question today: what if Christ didn’t rise again?
1. Jesus would be a liar.
Christ predicted His resurrection on several occasions. At first He used only vague terms, such as “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up (John 2:19).
But later on in His ministry He spoke quite plainly. Matthew writes, “From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day” (Matt. 16:21).
Jesus says in Matthew 12:40, “For as Jonas [Jonah] was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Soon of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”
And later in 20:18-19 He predicts, “Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death. And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.”
Mark records Jesus saying, “But after that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee” (Mark 14:28).
In John 10:17-18 we find Jesus saying these words: “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down ,and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.”
To the women who came to Christ’s tomb on Easter morning and wondered where His body was, the angel said, “He is not here: for he is risen, as he said” (Matt. 28:6).
If the resurrection did not happen, we would have to say the Jesus was a liar. And if He lied about the resurrection, could we trust His other sayings?
2. There is not gospel.
"And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain . . . ." (1 Cor. 15:14a).
Paul tells us what the gospel is in verses 3 and 4: “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.”
The word “gospel” means “good news.” But if the resurrection is taken from the gospel, we are left with sad news, not good news.
D. L. Moody, the great evangelist of the nineteenth century, assigned some ministerial students to conduct evangelistic tent meetings throughout the city of Chicago. The students were to preach nightly sermons as a means of winning souls for Christ and to practice their preaching. Dr. Moody personally showed up one night unannounced at one of the meeting places to hear one of his fledgling young ministers preach the gospel. The young man did quite well expounding on the death of Christ on the cross for the sins of the world. At the close of the service, he announced that everyone should come back the next night when he would “preach on the resurrection of Christ.”