Is the death of Jesus Christ or His resurrection more important?
Jesus' dying for the sins of the world and His resurrection from the dead are equally important. In fact, they are mutually dependent on one another. It would be impossible for Jesus to do one act without the other and still be rightfully called the Christ. Some people mistakenly think that Christ is Jesus' last name, but it is actually a title. It is a title filled with prophetic and eschatological meaning. Christ means "Messiah" or "the Anointed One" and neither term could be applied to Jesus if He ONLY died, or was ONLY resurrected. In order to be Christ, He must have done both. Looking at each act in turn will help us see why this is so.
First, if Jesus only died and was not resurrected then God's Word has failed, Jesus is a false prophet, and we are still living under God's just condemnation. Jesus predicted His own resurrection (Matthew 17:22–23). If Jesus did not rise from the dead then our faith is useless and we are still in our sins. The apostle Paul specifically addresses this issue when he is rebuking those in the city of Corinth who are claiming that there is no resurrection from the dead (for anyone).
In 1 Corinthians 15:12–19, Paul (under the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit) states, "Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 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. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 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."
Second, it is logically impossible to be resurrected without first dying. Obviously, no one can be resurrected from the dead without first being dead. However, if Jesus were to die (but not for our sin) and then be raised from the dead, we would not benefit at all from His resurrection. Such a resurrection would reveal His power over death, but it would not satisfy God's just wrath toward us. Since Jesus would not have suffered in our place and therefore would not have paid the penalty our sins deserve, we would have to suffer and pay the penalty ourselves (Romans 6:23). This means we would still be condemned. So, either way you look at it, whether you remove Jesus' substitutionary atoning death on our behalf or remove His resurrection from the dead, we would remain in the same tragic state. That is, we would remain "in our sins" which means we remain under God's just condemnation, awaiting His just punishment. In other words, we would be waiting to suffer the eternal torments of hell.
Thankfully, amazingly, gracefully, this is not this case. As we continue to read 1 Corinthians 15, Paul reveals the truth of God concerning who Jesus who is (i.e., the Christ). Jesus is the Savior of all who believe in Him, who trust in His sacrificial death for the forgiveness of sin and His glorious resurrection from the dead for eternal life (1 Timothy 4:10; Ephesians 1:7; John 11:25).
Picking up where we left Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15:20–22, he continues, "But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive."
Jesus Christ died as a propitiation for our sins (appeasing God's just wrath against us for our sins and cancelling the debt that we owed for our sin) (1 John 2:2; Colossians 2:14). Jesus Christ was raised from the dead to vindicate that He is who He said He was. His resurrection is proof that He is in fact the Son of God and that He is the One whom the Father promised to send (Acts 13:32–36). His resurrection is also the basis for our future resurrection. Because He was resurrected, we can look forward to our own resurrection (Philippians 3:20–21).
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