“Christianity is the only major religion to have its central event the humiliation of its God” . As I write this, I can’t help but think about the immense sacrifice that our Lord made and the fact that it was us who put him there. Philippians 2 states that Christ, who is God, humbled himself to the likeness of a man and was obedient to the Father to the point of death—death on a cross. The cross is where Christ drank the cup of divine wrath that we deserved and became our propitiation. This death was brutal to say the least. In modernity, it is extremely difficult to understand the horror of the cross. It was reserved for thieves, murderers, and the like. It was the most humiliating act a criminal could go through and brought shame to not only them, but their friends and family. Both the Scriptures and history tell us that Jesus died this death; but it didn’t end there.
On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came to the tomb, bringing the spices they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb. They went in but did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men stood by them in dazzling clothes. So the women were terrified and bowed down to the ground. ‘Why are you looking for the living among the dead?’ asked the men. ‘He is not here, but He has been resurrected! Remember how he spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying “The Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men, be crucified, and rise the third day”?’ And they remembered His words.”
As Christians, we celebrate the fact that Jesus of Nazareth has been resurrected and because of this, he is our Christ, our Messiah. The resurrection of Jesus alone makes Christianity the most unique religion in the world. Unfortunately, some people outside of the faith see it as a fairy tale myth that was stolen from other pagan traditions of the Greco-Roman world, while some people who claim the faith see it as a cool, but not important trick that God performed. But, these views are erroneous and here is why.
History of the Resurrection:
Throughout religious academia, the Christian resurrection, particularly the resurrection of Christ, is said to have borrowed its motif from other pagan traditions. However, real resurrection is very unique and only occurs in Jewish/Christian belief. N.T. Wright states,
Here there is no difference between pagans, Jews and Christians. They all understood the Greek word anastasis and its cognates, and the other related terms we shall meet, to mean. . . new life after a period of being dead. Pagans denied this possibility; some Jews affirmed it as a long-term future hope; virtually all Christians claimed that it had happened to Jesus and would happen to them in the future” .
This is not merely a life-after-death model that we as modern thinkers usually assume. It literally means that there is an “embodied life which would follow whatever ‘life after death’ there might be” . Life after death can simply mean a new spiritual/heavenly life but this is not resurrection. Resurrection is a completely new physical life after your body has died. Resurrection is also permanent; one doesn’t resurrect to die again. This is called revivification, not resurrection.
It is by this narrow definition that Christianity separates from other pagan traditions. In the Isis and Osiris myth of ancient Egypt, Osiris is enchanted back to life, but is missing a piece of his body and does not come back physically. He instead, comes back as god of the underworld. In the Cybele and Attis myth of Phrygia, Cybele revives Attis but he is left with only his hair growing, and a moving finger. These myths were used to help celebrate the yearly crop cycle but these myths are not resurrection accounts. If anything, some of these myths borrowed the claims of resurrection from Christianity well after Jesus’ resurrection and the establishment of the Church.
The most important evidence we have of Christ’s resurrection though, is the empty tomb. The Apostle Paul gives account that over 500 people saw the resurrected Christ and the evidence of the empty tomb quickly became common knowledge in 1st Century Palestine. Jewish historian Josephus (AD 37-100) recorded,
Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day” .
Because of this common knowledge, myths actually arose to explain the empty tomb because denying that it happened wasn’t even a possibility. History shows that the tomb was empty.
Doctrine of the Resurrection:
“For if the dead are not raised, Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins” . The resurrection is proof that Jesus is who he says he is. If he would have lived a life, even a life of miracles, died on a cross, and stayed in a tomb, he would have been forgotten and there would have been no proof that he was the Messiah. Christ’s resurrection is the display of not only God’s power but of the promise that our Messiah reigns forever. If Christ has not been raised, then he is not God, and thus, Paul states our faith would have been worthless and we would still be dead in our sins.
The resurrection also assures that those who are in Christ will also rise with Christ, “for if we have been joined with Him in the likeness of His death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of His resurrection” . The Bible also teaches that all will resurrect, but “some to eternal life, and some to shame and eternal contempt” . The resurrection too, goes hand in hand with the crucifixion. They are both central and necessary for our faith as Christians. Without one, we lose the other. Together, they form the salvific work of Jesus. We cannot overemphasize the importance of the resurrection. Mark Driscoll states, “If Jesus is dead, then Christianity is dead. If Jesus is alive, then Christianity is alive” .
So, as we celebrate this Easter season, let’s celebrate the fact that our King is alive. There is no more fear in sin or in death. Jesus took our sin on the cross and defeated the curse of death as he triumphantly walked away from an empty tomb. He is alive.
 Shelley, Bruce. Church History in Plain Language. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1995). 3.
 Wright, N.T. The Resurrection of the Son of God (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003). 31
 Ibid. 83.
 Flavius Josephus, “Jewish Antiquities,” in The New Complete Works of Josephus, trans. William Whiston (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1999) 18.63–64. emphasis added.
 1 Corinthians 15:16-17
 Romans 6:5
 Daniel 12:2
 Driscoll, Mark & Gerry Breshears. Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010). 279.