Comer: The importance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ
There’s a vague memory inside my head from when I was a young child, perhaps only 8 or 9 years old. I was lying in bed one evening and found myself pondering life after death. I don’t remember much about the thoughts I had at the time, but I remember being gripped with fear by the possibility that I would simply cease to exist whenever I died.
I suppose you could say it was my “What About Bob” moment. Those who have seen that movie will know the humorous scene I’m referencing.
Boy: “Are you afraid of death?”
Boy: “Me too. There’s no way out of it. You’re going to die. I’m going to die. It’s going to happen. And what difference does it make if it’s tomorrow or 80 years? Much sooner in your case. Do you know how fast time goes? I was 6 like yesterday.”
Bob: “Me too.”
Boy: “I’m going to die. You are going to die. What else is there to be afraid of?”
I’ve since grown in my knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and so I no longer feel the worry I experienced as a child. I no longer think of death as a situation to fear, but rather a transition to another stage of my eternal existence. Oftentimes, I find myself pondering just how exciting it will be to no longer have the physical problems that plague my mortal body and to eventually have a glorious, perfect and resurrected body. I’m certain that’s how my wife felt as she battled multiple sclerosis. It’s why she was able to not just endure her trials, but endure them well — still having joy. It’s all possible because of Jesus Christ.
Speaking to those in Corinth who had taught there would be no resurrection of the dead, Paul spoke of Christ’s resurrection.
“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: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-8)
Paul then tied Christ’s resurrection to the resurrection of everyone, saying, “Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?” (1 Corinthians 15:12) before testifying that all would be resurrected because of Christ. “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:22)
All these thoughts have come into my mind since last weekend’s general conference — the semiannual gathering of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — and, specifically, Elder Gary E. Stevenson’s talk. Elder Stevenson, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the church, delivered a talk titled “The Greatest Easter Story Ever Told” in which he called the atonement and resurrection of Jesus Christ the “most important event to ever happen on this earth.” He quoted New Testament scholar N.T. Wright, who said, “We should be taking steps to celebrate Easter in creative new ways: in art, literature, children’s games, poetry, music, dance, festivals, bells, special concerts. … This is our greatest festival. Take Christmas away, and in biblical terms you lose two chapters at the front of Matthew and Luke, nothing else. Take Easter away, and you don’t have a New Testament; you don’t have a Christianity.”
What a powerful concept! Important as the details of Jesus’ birth are, his importance isn’t diminished by omitting them. Mark and John didn’t include them. But if you leave out the details of his resurrection, which none of the four synoptic gospel writers did, then what is he reduced to? What is the purpose in believing in him or preaching about him?
Paul testified: “And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” (1 Corinthians 15:14-19)
According to Christianity.com, “The resurrection of Jesus undid the catastrophe of the crucifixion. The Messiah, who had died, is risen! The resurrection validated and verified the claims Jesus had made about his own identity. The origin of Christianity rests solely on the fact that Jesus Christ rose from the dead.”
Said Theologian Timothy Keller: “If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said; if he didn’t rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching but whether or not he rose from the dead.”
Given all of that, I can’t help but ask myself, ‘Do I really show the reverence for Easter that it deserves?’ So much is made of Christmas, but given the importance of Easter, do I do enough?
When I see videos like the ones The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released on YouTube two years ago, I can’t help but feel inspired to try harder. It’s titled simply “Because of Him–Easter video,” and includes text throughout that reads:
“It was unthinkable
A single act
That changed history
He was a carpenter
Yet he did
What no carpenter
Had ever done
Like all who preceded him
And he died
But unlike all who preceded him
He rose from the dead
He lived again
And because he lives
Will live again
Because of him
Death has no sting
The grave no victory
We can start again
Because of him
Guilt becomes peace
Regret becomes relief
Despair becomes hope
Because of him
We have second chances
There is no such thing
As the end
Because of him.”
Contact Ryan Comer at firstname.lastname@example.org.