The resurrection and the grounds of Christian hope

Good Friday is the day we remember the death of Christ. As I commented here, the cross is neither the object of our faith nor the basis of our hope. Rather, it is the place at which Jesus fulfilled the work of his mission and secured the salvation of all who believe in him.

Easter Sunday is the day we remember the resurrection of Christ. Unlike the cross, the resurrection is the basis of Christian hope. In Romans 8:24, Paul reminds us “hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?” As such, the Christian hope is by definition some future event or happening for which we wait.

As Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:20 “Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep”. Firstfruits signal the start of a harvest and prove there is more fruit on the way. If Jesus’ is the firstfruits of those who have died, his resurrection must signal more of the same to come. The resurrection acts as God’s pledge to all believers that they will be raised to glory. Jesus rose as the firstfruits of the resurrection of all believers to come. According to Paul, the basis of our hope rests on the historical event of Jesus’ resurrection.

If one can disprove the resurrection, one can destroy the Christian faith. Christian belief rests on the historical resurrection of Jesus. Without it, there is no future hope. Jesus did not rise, he is not in glory and  no believer is going to be there with him for eternity. Evidently, this is what the apostles themselves recognised when they returned to the very jobs from which Jesus first called them in the aftermath of the crucifixion.

The question that remains is this: what best accounts for the empty tomb? What best accounts for the sudden emergence of the Christian church? What best accounts for the willingness of the dejected followers of Jesus suddenly being willing to die for a faith based solely on the resurrection of their Lord? 

The evidence for the resurrection is quite astounding. The points of agreement among scholars on the basic historic facts surrounding the resurrection are enormous (see here for an outline of this). If the answer to the above questions is that Jesus actually, bodily rose from the dead then Christians have remarkable grounds for their current faith and future hope.