There have been a lot of great religious teachers throughout history. Confucius, Buddha and Mohammed are three of the most recognizable, and all have millions of followers to this day. Yet there's one thing about all three--and every other great teacher from the past--that should be somewhat disconcerting to their followers: they're all dead.
Then there's Jesus, the greatest teacher of all. Like Confucius, Buddha and Mohammed, Jesus died. But unlike the other great spiritual leaders and self-proclaimed prophets who have walked the earth throughout history, Jesus came back to life.
Now, this may not matter to some people (and by the sheer numbers people who follow dead teachers and prophets, it must not), but it should matter to you. if you are a follower of Christ, you need to know that the resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the most important part of your faith.
If you are evaluating Christianity against other belief systems, you need to know that Christianity (which is all about Jesus) is no better than Confucianism, Buddhism or Islam if Jesus is still dead. That's because if there's no resurrection of Jesus from the dead, here's what you are left with:
1. No resurrection--no Messiah. Throughout the Old Testament, God promised the Jews that He would send a king who would establish God's kingdom on earth. This "deliverer" was referred to as the Messiah. He would be God coming down to earth to save His people. There are more than 40 prophecies in Scripture concerning the Messiah. The true Messiah must fulfill every single one, including the prophecy that the Messiah would die for the sins of the world (Isaiah 53:7,8), and that God would raise Him from the dead (Psalm 16:9,10). If Jesus did not come back to life after dying, then he wasn't the Messiah. And if Jesus wasn't the Messiah, then both Jews and Gentiles alike are still waiting for salvation, and everyone who believes in Jesus is a fool (1 Corinthians 15:17-19).
2. No resurrection--no life. Jesus predicted that He would be crucified and then raised from the dead (Matthew 20:19). Furthermore, Jesus didn't just say he would be resurrected. He said he would be the resurrection for us (John 11:25,26). If Jesus wasn't raised from the dead, then Jesus was a liar, and there's no hope for us to have eternal life.
3. No resurrection--no heaven. Do you think about heaven? There's no loftier thought we human beings can have. Now think about this: without the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, we'll never get there. Jesus made it very clear that he is our connection to heaven. Not only is he designing and building a place for all who believe in him, but he has also promised to take us there personally (John 14:1-4).
4. No resurrection--no hope. The bottom line is that without the resurrection, we're sunk. Oh, we can appreciate the teachings of Jesus, we can do our best to imitate the life of Jesus, and we can fee good about living good lives here on earth. But what good is that if there's no hope of a life with Jesus beyond this one? If Christians are merely putting their faith in a dead guy, then we really are just a bunch of losers. Or as the apostle Paul put it, "If we have no hope in Christ only for this life, we are the most miserable people in the world" (1 Corinthians 15:19).