“And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.” -1Corinthians 15:14
When the multitude began to encounter Jesus in his earthly ministry, they described him as a teacher, and a man with great abilities (John 3:2), while some said a prophet (Matthew 16:14; Matthew 21:11), and others believed him to be the Christ (John 7:40-41).
Jesus however, made the truth plain to his disciples, about his person (John 1:1-3, 14; 6:48,51; 14:6), his purpose (John 3:16-17; 6:40, 10:10), and his plan (Matthew 16:21; Mark 9:31; Luke 9:22). Despite these revelations, the disciples still found themselves despondent and doubtful after the death of Jesus. The validity of Jesus’ claim as the Christ hinged on his resurrection. The conversation between Jesus and some of His disciples on the road of Emmaus shows that without the evidence of his resurrection, their hope of Jesus being the messiah was quickly fading; “But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened.” (Luke 24:21).
The disciples despaired not simply of the death of Jesus, but of the hope of their redemption that seemed lost. Paul writes “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. (1 Corinthians 15:19). Without the resurrection, Jesus is just “a prophet mighty in deed and word…” (Luke 24:19) and Christianity is just another empty religion among thousands of others in the world. But praise God, because our faith isn’t futile, it is the substance of things hoped for, according to Hebrews 11:1. That substance is this: “we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection… if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,” (Romans 6: 5,8).
The Early Church grew by leaps and bounds, first three thousand souls where added after Peter’s sermon in Acts 2: 14-40), then that number grew to about five thousand believers, not counting women and children in Acts 4:4. The central message of the apostolic preaching was the resurrection. If you want to learn how to be successful in life, there are life coaches for that. If you’re looking for love, there are marriage and relationship experts for that. If you desire to become wealthy, there are financial classes for that. But only Christianity proclaims that Jesus died and was raised from the dead, that “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4: 12)
This is our faith, and this is the reason for our hope: Jesus has conquered sin and death, and He lives victoriously!