(Photo by Selma Komisky)
Who Do You Say I Am?
By Brittney Perez
“But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
– 1 Corinthians 15:12-20 (NIV)
During the Easter season there is a word you will most likely hear mentioned and that word is resurrection. Even if you don’t go to church, I’m sure you have heard the word resurrection many times used in different ways. When I think about this word, I almost am at a loss for words. This word, in the Christian realm, is so weighty, and yet so powerful and good all at the same time. Dictionary.com defines the word resurrection as, “the act of rising from the dead.” Pretty simple and accurate definition I would say. Have you ever stopped and thought about this word though? I know we hear it, especially this time of the year, but when you stop and think about what that word implies it’s pretty astounding. It’s a reversal. You see, in order for something to resurrect from the dead that implies something had to die first. Jesus Christ died physically. He died. His heart stopped beating. He was dead for three days, but then something crazy happened. He came back to life! He RESURRECTED from the dead. That is beyond amazing.
I love the verses above from 1 Corinthians 15. These verses are so jam packed with truth and also very thought provoking. In verses 13-14, we read that, “If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” Wow. When I read these verses it makes me think about one of the important fundamentals of Christianity, that Jesus was crucified and raised from the dead for us – that we may be free from sin and receive eternal life through Him if we place our faith in Jesus. Yet, when I read this it tells us that if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Jesus was raised, and if Jesus has not been resurrected, we basically have nothing to hope for and our beliefs are worthless. They aren’t even worth mentioning because there is no truth in them. It also says that if Jesus wasn’t resurrected than we are false witnesses about God and of all people most to be pitied. Like what?! I don’t know about you, but that’s heavy to me. I’ve pondered these very verses and have thought about if Christ wasn’t raised. To be honest, I try not to ponder it for too long because, for one, I know that isn’t true – Christ has indeed been raised, but also it makes me very sad to think about. What also makes me sad is knowing that there are people that do not believe in Jesus and His resurrection, and live as though He never lived, died, and was resurrected.
When I think about the hope of the resurrection and read this passage from 1 Corinthians 15, I can’t help but begin to think about the kingdom that does not believe in the resurrection of Jesus, and by kingdom, I mean the world. For me there is so much joy and hope in knowing that Jesus has been raised from the dead. Because of His perfect life here on earth, His death on the cross, and His resurrection from the dead, I have hope that I don’t have to live this life on earth alone because Jesus is alive, and that when I die I have an eternal kingdom that has been prepared for me by a gracious Savior. The kingdom of the world does not have this hope. In fact, this hope is seen by many as foolishness. A man dying a brutal death on a cross and resurrecting from the dead so that I can have eternal life? To many just the whole idea of a resurrection from the dead sounds crazy, let alone life after this world is over. The kingdom of this world basically tells you to hope that you will live a good life and impact people, which isn’t bad in and of itself, but it is inadequate if there is no real sustenance behind your hopes. Is it good to live a good life and impact people? Of course. But what’s the purpose behind it if only to say in the end that you lived a good life or that you did something nice for someone and that’s it. The world’s kingdom preaches that this life is short (which it is) and you have to live your life to the fullest because once it’s over, it’s over. “Yolo” (You Only Live Once). Am I right? I don’t know about you, but to me this mindset and view on life sounds very sad because beneath it all is no real hope for anything after this life here on earth is over.
Thanks to Jesus for His physical resurrection – His ultimate defeat over death itself – I have hope knowing that though my life on this earth will one day be over, it doesn’t end there. Death does not have the final say. Even greater news is that this hope isn’t just for me, but it’s for anyone who would believe in Jesus Christ. You see the kingdom of this world can never give you the hope that Jesus offers. I will say it again- the kingdom of this world will never give you the hope that Jesus offers because the hope that the world offers is really a false sense of hope. It doesn’t offer you anything concrete because it doesn’t believe there is anything really concrete and that is the opposite of hope; that’s hopelessness.
When I think about the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, I have hope. I place my faith in that hope because I know this hope will not disappoint. This hope has conquered all, even death itself. I’ve come to find that I cannot place my faith in the things of the kingdom of this world because this world is constantly changing; nothing is certain, and I am ultimately disappointed by it in the end. The one I know I can always rely and place my trust is Jesus. He does not change like shifting shadows (James 1:17). Throughout the years of my life I have found Him to be trustworthy. I am so thankful that this hope is not false. It is trustworthy every time.
As you continue on this Easter season, I challenge you to ponder the meaning of what the resurrection of Jesus means. Who is Jesus? And why do Christians make such a big deal about His resurrection? I know the kingdom of this world can blind us to who Jesus says He really is and what His resurrection from the dead means. I know that even people can blind us to who Jesus really is. I ask that you would ask Jesus who He says He is. That you would put aside what the world has told you about who Jesus is and seek Him out for yourself. There’s this story in Matthew 16:13-20 where Jesus asks His disciples who the people were saying He was and they give Him various answers. They tell Him some say you are this person, others say you are this person, etc. (read Matthew 16:14 for details). Then Jesus continues to ask them, “But what about you? Who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:15) to which one of His disciples, Peter, responds with, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). I believe Jesus asked them this because He didn’t want to hear who they believed others said He was. He wanted to hear who THEY believed He was. Who does Jesus say He is? Ask Him and let Him show you. Let Him enable you to be in awe of Him. Let Him enable you to be in awe of the power of His resurrection from the dead so that you can obtain forgiveness of your sins and receive the life that is yours in Him and Him alone.