For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.
–1 Corinthians 15:3-4
This time of the year, around Easter, there is always an interest in our culture in spiritual matters, especially about the death and the resurrection of Jesus. There seems to be a spiritual hunger in our country lately, and we as Christians need to take advantage of people’s interest. In 1 Peter 3, Peter said that we need to be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks us for the hope that is within us. Why is the death of Jesus important? Why is the resurrection important?
Several years ago, I had the chance to be with the late Alan Colmes on his radio program. He asked me, “Pastor, as a Christian, why is Easter important to you?” Then he gave me the chance to share the gospel. Then he followed it up with a question nobody had ever asked me before. He said, “As a Christian, which event is more important to you: the death of Jesus, or the resurrection of Jesus?” That is a great question.
There are evangelicals today who place a lot of emphasis on the resurrection but do not talk that much about the crucifixion on Good Friday. One evangelical interviewed by CNN said, “I am tired of racing over the events of the Passion Week to get to the resurrection. This Passion Week I am going to concentrate on the crucifixion.” I understand that sentiment. Sometimes we race right past the death of Jesus to talk about the resurrection of Jesus.
There are other faith traditions that emphasize the death of Jesus and do not talk much about the resurrection. That is an equally lethal mistake. The death of Jesus means nothing apart from the resurrection. The fact is, the crucifixion was not unique. Tens of thousands of people were crucified by the Romans in Jesus’ day. If there were tens of thousands of people crucified, why is the only one we know about a Galilean rabbi who lived 2,000 years ago? It is because He was the only one who was delivered from the jaws of death by the Holy Spirit of God. Jesus’ resurrection is important. It was the validating factor that He was truly the Son of God. So we are not going to make the mistake of emphasizing one over the other. What I want to do is talk about the reason that both the passion (the death of Christ) and the promise (the resurrection of Christ) are equally important not just to theology but to your life and to my life.
When you look throughout the Bible, you see that both the resurrection and the death of Christ were treated as a part of the gospel. In 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, Paul said, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” Do you see it? The gospel is both the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Easter: The Passion and the Promise” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.