As a teenager and a new Christian, I loved the musical Jesus Christ Superstar. I loved Jesus, and I loved music, so what’s not to love about a Jesus-themed musical? When I excitedly told my youth pastor how amazing JCS was, I remember being confused when he laughed and said, “Yeah, except for the whole ‘no resurrection’ part.”
Is the resurrection important to the gospel?
Would it have mattered if Jesus hadn’t risen from the dead?
Paul definitely thought so.
1 Corinthians 15 : 14, 17-19
“And if Christ has not been raised,
our preaching is useless and so is your faith…
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.”
Honestly, when I think about the gospel, I think I miss the importance of this a lot of the time. I recently did a little studying on the subject, and I learned a few things that I found encouraging and faith-building. I found that the reality of Christ’s resurrection provides us with great assurance.
Assurance that my sins are forgiven
In the Old Testament, on the Day of Atonement, the high priest would enter the Most Holy Place to make a sin offering on behalf of the entire community of Israel (see Leviticus 16). The high priest was the only one allowed to enter the Most Holy place, and only on the Day of Atonement. If he entered any other time, or in any manner other than that prescribed by the Lord, he would die. The priest emerging alive from this sacred place was evidence that God had accepted the sacrifice.
The sacrificial system of the Old Testament was always only meant to be a symbolic picture, which Christ came to fulfill literally with his death and resurrection. Jesus is our true high priest. His bodily resurrection is our assurance that God accepted His ultimate sacrifice for sin!
Assurance of life after death
1 Corinthians 15 :20
“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead,
the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
“Firstfruits” is another Old Testament reference. The first grains harvested were given to the Lord in acknowledgment of the full harvest to come. In the case of the resurrection, Jesus was the firstfruits, and we are the harvest to come! If Jesus rose from the dead, so will we!
Assurance of new spiritual life now
Romans 6 : 4
“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”
When we believe the gospel, God says we are “in Christ”, meaning we are identified with Him in every way. From God’s vantage point, we died with Christ and, because Jesus didn’t stay dead, we also now live with Him. Because our old self was crucified with Christ, sin no longer has power over us.
And because we have been raised with Christ, we have been given new spiritual life, which is what gives us the power to say “no” to sin and “yes” to what is good! For a more in-depth study of this wonderful, freeing Biblical teaching, check out Colossians 2:13–15, 3:1–11, and Romans 6:1–14.
A musical is just a musical
I still like to occasionally rock out to my Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack. But I am grateful that the real Jesus didn’t stay in the grave. Because He is alive, I have real hope, both for this life and the one to come.
PS: For a more in-depth teaching on 1 Corinthians 15, including good argument for why we can be sure Christ actually did rise from the dead, check out this teaching from my church.