Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? – 1 Corinthians 15:12
So, why does the resurrection matter? I’ve heard some people say that the resurrection matters because it proves that Jesus is God. I’ve heard most people say it matters because it assures us of our own resurrection. While I wouldn’t say that either of those answers is wrong, I would say that they are far less than the full truth.
In resurrection God reveals the end of the story of all creation. The trajectory of this creation, including your life and mine, is toward healing and restoring and making all things new (Revelation 2:15). Resurrection is happening right here and right now, and it will happen fully and completely one day.
Resurrection is woven into the very fabric of this creation. Day follows night. Spring follows winter. Wounds heal themselves. All that dies becomes fertilizer for all that is being born. The ash of a forest fire makes the soil fertile for new trees to grow. In the natural world nothing is wasted. Everything belongs. Resurrection is woven into the very fabric of this creation.
And resurrection is woven into the very fabric of our lived experience. Love restores broken hearts. Forgiveness heals a guilty conscience. Hope heals dark despair. Empathy ends shame. Community cures loneliness. God is at work bringing new life to the dead places in us. And it gets better, because resurrection is an invitation to us to participate in that work. Resurrection says that everything we do, and how we do it, matters. We are invited into the creative and restorative work of God. That’s why resurrection matters.
Resurrection isn’t just about what happens when we breath our last; it’s about how we live into our next breath.
When I lived in Columbus, Ohio I had a friend who was a rabid Ohio State football fan. Once, due to some international travel, he had to miss a critically important game and so he set his television to record the game for him to watch a few days later. And when he watched that game, he already knew how it ended. And he said that changed everything.
When Ohio State fumbled the ball, normally my friend would scream and throw things at the television. But this time it didn’t upset him because he knew how the game ended.
When the Ohio State quarterback threw an interception, normally my friend would call that quarterback a long string of rather nasty names. But this time he didn’t, because he knew how the game ended.
And when Ohio State went into the locker room at half time behind by two touchdowns, normally my friend would be filled with dread, anger and anxiety. But this time he wasn’t, because he knew how the game ended.
In Jesus’ resurrection God has shown us how the game ends. And that doesn’t just assure us of what will happen when we die; it profoundly impacts how we live. We can fail and not despair. We can give ourselves away in service to others without accolades and appreciation. We can take risks and fail. We can live generously, love extravagantly, forgive freely, worship whole-heartedly, hope endlessly…all because we know how the game ends.
Check out this short video on the power of resurrection. Click here.
Jeff Marian is lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN