Why is the reality of the bodily resurrection of Jesus so central to the Christian faith?
The bodily resurrection of Jesus refers to the actual body of Jesus returning from the dead after three days rather than merely His spirit in some sort of ghost-like form. There are many reasons the bodily resurrection of Jesus is important.
First, the bodily resurrection of Jesus affirmed and proved the divine nature of Jesus. If God is eternal, then He cannot die. If Jesus was dead and remained dead, then He could not be God. His bodily resurrection proved He was more than a man; Jesus is the God-man, or God in human form.
Second, the bodily resurrection serves as the basis for the Christian faith. In 1 Corinthians 15:14 we read, "And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain."
Third, the bodily resurrection, if untrue, means that all who share the gospel message are frauds and liars. Paul wrote that if the resurrection did not take place, "We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised." (1 Corinthians 15:15).
Fourth, the bodily resurrection anticipates the future resurrection of all believers. First Corinthians 15:16 teaches, "For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised." The resurrection of Christ serves as the basis for the future resurrection of all who believe in Him.
Fifth, without the bodily resurrection, believers are still in their sins. First Corinthians 15:17-19 share, "And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied."
Sixth, the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead fulfilled His own prophecies. Jesus personally foretold that He would die and rise again. For example, John 2:19-21 states, "Jesus answered them, 'Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.' The Jews then said, 'It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?' But he was speaking about the temple of his body."
Seventh, if the bodily resurrection did not take place, many Christians have been persecuted and even died for a lie. This would be sad if true, but the fact of the empty tomb and many eyewitnesses of the resurrected Jesus point to a man who was more than a man; He is the Messiah. Those who trust in Him will never be put to shame (Romans 10:11).
The bodily, physical resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the single most important event in world history. Through Him, we can have eternal life (John 3:16) and abundant life (John 10:10).
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