Central to the claim of the gospel is the belief that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead. Without this event, our faith is worthless. It's such an amazing fact in the history of the world: a dead man came back to life, and lives forever more. Yet for many today, on Easter Sunday, more thought will be given to egg hunts on Church lawns than this most wonderful news. While there is certainly nothing wrong in and of itself in participating in Easter Egg hunts, I think such is often symptomatic of the numbness we have towards the heart of the gospel message itself.
Indeed, the "good news" of Jesus Christ is that though the King of kings was crucified and murdered at the hands of His own people, that this dead man literally and physically came back to life. It is the message that the prophesied kingdom of God which He established through His ministry did not disappear with His death, but was victoriously established by His resurrection, and continues on to this very day. Indeed, His resurrection demonstrates that because He lives, we will also. Thus, though we suffer death one day, the power of His kingdom will triumph even over death, putting an end even to it, by means of our literal and physical resurrection one day.
The heart of the gospel message is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Yet so often, we neglect this fact, and preach a crippled gospel as a result of it. For many, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is a mere doctrine that is stapled on to the end of a sinners prayer. It is merely part of a magical formula that one is prompted to recite so as to secure their salvation. Yet, unless an individual realizes that this is the heart claim of the gospel message itself, and absolutely unequivocally the central message they are to believe so as to be saved, then indeed, a person cannot be saved.
For Romans 10 teaches us that salvation comes through confessing that Jesus is Lord, and believing in your heart that God raised Him from the dead. Yet we waste so much energy going around trying to convince men that they are sinners in the hands of an angry God, or the other extreme, that God loves them and has a wonderful plan for their life. Indeed, both these doctrines are true, and firmly taught in Scripture as being part of the gospel message. But they are not the essence of the gospel message, and have made false prophets out of us all. Indeed, if you were to closely examine the book of Acts, and the messages that the apostles preached, you will find that though those these elements were present in their preaching, the thing that made the gospel message unique was their persistent claim that they were eyewitnesses to a dead man who came back to life by the name of Jesus.
Such is the message, that turned the world upside down. The question is, has it turned your world upside down? Has it truly sunk into your head? Have you truly had a revelation of it? We as Christians claim to have Jesus living inside of us. And we think about it in very mystical ghostly terms, as if Jesus were some mere force in the cosmos, or some deep inner strength rooted in our humanity. But the Scriptures think about this much more concretely than we often do. Our minds are far too "spiritual." Have we failed to realize that the inward spiritual experience we have as born again believers is reflective of an actual physical and historical reality? A dead man lives!!!
My life is different today because this dead man named Jesus came back to life after three days. Indeed, to believe such a radical claim must challenge, change, and transform one. To be unchallenged, unchanged, and be just the same as you were yesterday is only proof that you have not truly believed this message. You mentally agree with the claim, and don't disagree with it as you are in some sense a "Christian."
But has this claim revolutionized your life? How is it that you continue on in the same old sins day after day if you believe this very thing? Why are you not transformed? Why do you not abound with zeal for the Lord? Why is it that you lack joy? Why is it that you lack peace? Why is it that you lack love? If you truly believe Jesus is alive forever more, this claim should touch every aspect of your life.
A dead man lives. Such news is merely old to many, and fails to grab the attention of the masses. But for those who truly believe it, then they realize that though today is yet another day, it is yet another day that Jesus Christ is still alive. Such news is just as good, just as sweet, and just as fresh as when it was first proclaimed 2,000 years ago today.