What If There Had Been No Easter?
Harry Houdini was a master escape artist. There wasn’t a box, bag, or barrel from which he couldn’t escape. That is, until death knocked at his door. Harry met his match when death clenched him in an ironclad grasp.
Death put Jesus in a rock-hewn tomb. And all the world thought there was no escape. But on the third day, He left the grave clothes that were wrapped around Him much like a butterfly would forsake its cocoon. And Jesus passed through the walls of that tomb. The stone wasn’t rolled away to let Him out. It was rolled away to let the disciples in to see that Jesus had come back from the dead. And Jesus Christ is alive today!
Suppose death still had its grip on Jesus. We would be faced with many tragic consequences. And those consequences come directly from 1 Corinthians 15:12–20.
Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep (1 Cor. 15:12–20).
Preaching Would Be Profitless
We would be wasting our time in this Christian life if there were no resurrection of our Lord. The heart of the gospel is that Jesus died for our sins. He was buried and raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures. I heard of a preacher who told his congregation that the body of Jesus Christ still lies in a nameless tomb, but His deathless spirit marches on. Do you know what that man ought to do? Get out of the pulpit and get another job! If I did not believe that Jesus came out of the grave, then preaching would be meaningless.
Faith Would Be Foolish
Who wants to put their faith in Jesus if He is dead? You would be trusting someone who doesn’t deserve your trust. Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” The difference between Christianity and other religions is that their leaders lived and died. Jesus lived, died, and rose again. There is no need to follow a loser. Jesus conquered death!
Disciples Would Be Deceivers
Paul did not say that if Christ were still in the grave, we would be mistaken. He said if Christ has not been raised, we are “false witnesses.” In the courtroom, a false witness is someone who knowingly, willingly, and even deliberately perjures himself. He is a liar. “Well,” some say, “how do we know they didn’t just make it all up?” Because many of these men sealed their testimonies with their lives. Hypocrites and martyrs are made of different stuff. A man may live for a lie, but few will die for one.
Sin Would Be Sovereign
If Christ were still in the grave, God has not accepted the payment for our sin. When God raised Jesus, it was His stamp of approval that full payment had been made. Without the resurrection of Jesus Christ, I wouldn’t give you half of a hallelujah for your hope in heaven. Second Corinthians 5:21 says, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
Death Would Have Dominion
Surely you don’t believe that our loving God, who created the universe, intends for it all to run down into the grave. That we are born crying, live complaining, and die disappointed? I can’t accept that. First Thessalonians 4:16 says, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.” Second Timothy 1:10 tells us that Jesus has “abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”
Future Would Be Futile
If this is all there is, then we are to be pitied. Ernest Hemingway said, “It’s as though we are a colony of ants living on one end of a burning log.” What do people without Jesus look forward to when they die? A hole in the ground. Life as we know it is chaotic at best if Christ has not been raised.
Praise His wonderful name! Jesus has taken the sting out of death. He has taken the gloom out of the grave. He has given us a hope that is steadfast and sure. He is not behind us in a tomb. He is before us on a throne!