When the Lord appeared to John on the island of Patmos to deliver His revelation of the things that were soon to take place, He identified Himself in a powerful way. In Rev. 1:17-18 Jesus said, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.” In the midst of this brief statement is the bedrock of Christian faith. Our Lord was dead, but now is alive forever more! This essential truth sets Christianity apart from every other religious belief. Our founder is alive and will never die again!
This was the argument that Paul made to validate our hope of eternal life. In Rom. 6:8-11 he said, “Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
When Paul wrote his first letter to the church in Corinth, he told them that the gospel was the death, burial, and the resurrection of Christ (1 Cor. 15:1-4). His death was necessary in order to atone for our sins. Without His shed blood, God’s justice could not be satisfied. However, a dead Savior is no Savior at all. Our Lord had to come back from the dead in order to complete His exaltation as “Lord of Lord and King of Kings”. He did this on the third day, according to the scriptures (1 Cor. 15:4), and now He is the master of death and of Hades (Rev. 1:18).
Because our Savior lives, we have hope in life as well as in eternity. We have hope because He is alive to mediate between us and our Father in heaven (1 Tim. 2:5). We have hope because He lives to make intercession for us (Heb. 7:25). We have hope because He holds us in His hands and no one can snatch us away from Him (Jn. 10:28). We have hope because He reigns over His kingdom and will continue to reign until He hands over the kingdom to God the Father at the last day (1 Cor. 15:24-26).
Because our Savior lives, we also have obligations in life. Since we know our Savior lives, we must live for Him in everything we do. In Rom. 12:1-2 Paul said we must present our bodies as a living and holy sacrifice in order to prove what the will of God is. In Col. 3:22-24 Paul said we must do everything we do as though we were doing it for the Lord, because it is He whom we serve. Because He lives, we must let our light shine so that others will see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven (Mt. 5:16).
A prominent theologian of the last century said that Christianity stands or falls on the resurrection of Christ. If the Lord did not come back from the dead on the third day, then we have no reason to believe in him. As Paul said, “and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:17). If, however, He was raised from the dead, then we must believe in Him. To refuse to do so would be foolish, for one day our living Lord will call all the dead from the tombs for judgment (Jn. 5:28-29).
Therefore, let us rejoice in the fact that our Savior and Lord lives. Let us live in such a way that honors our living Lord and thereby secures eternal life for us. Let us look with joy at the empty tomb. And let us sing with heartfelt sincerity, “Because He lives I can face tomorrow, Because He lives all fear is gone; Because I know He holds the future, And life is worth the living just because He lives.”