A horrible lie about the Christian faith is regularly purported in our world and even in so-called Christian congregations. The lie is that it really doesn’t matter if you believe in an actual, literal, miraculous resurrection. Instead, we are to understand that the “fable” of the resurrection is that being humble like Jesus, “taking one for the team,” that kind of thing – brings a renewal to the life of the community.
This is nothing short of blasphemy and makes the gospel proclaimed a piece of impotent mythology. Paul understood this and told us “If Christ is not risen, your faith is futile” – but it is not simply futile because you believe a lie. It is futile because, as he says, “you are still in your sins.” If Christ is not risen, we of all men are most to be pitied. And if the dead do not rise, we ought to “eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” If there is no resurrection, there is no Jesus to follow, or no Jesus worth following – He was a liar. If there is no resurrection, there is no forgiveness for sins – and we are lost. If there is no resurrection, there is nothing but empty faith – faith in nothing – faith in ideas but not in a Person – but what good are ideas – ideas don’t save anyone.
We gather this Lord’s Day to declare quite the opposite. “But now, Christ is risen from the dead” and with this declaration comes the command for all to repent and believe. The Conqueror has conquered – He has conquered sin and death – your sin and your death. Believe or perish – there is no compromise – no negotiating – no wiggling out of this. But this is not tyranny – this is freedom – freedom from death – freedom from guilt – freedom from the power and bondage of sin. Easter is universal and personal. Easter declares a new Lord and King over heaven and earth. Easter declares my personal salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ – come and believe and worship the Risen Lord.