Through His Death and Resurrection, Jesus shows himself to be unconditionally loving–precisely as he preached the Father to be.
The doctrine of the Resurrection is central to Christianity, so much so that St. Paul states:
“If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead.” (1 Cor 15:13-15.)
With these words, St. Paul seeks to authenticate and confirm that Jesus’ unconditional act of love (Death and Resurrection) is perfectly justifying, expiatory, and reconciling.
In order to guarantee this, Paul must show that Jesus is divine and that the divine Jesus has given himself totally in a complete act of self-sacrificing love.
Proving Jesus’ Divinity
To prove Jesus’ divinity, Paul must first prove that the Resurrection did indeed take place giving truth to the two following statements:
- The Father validated everything that Jesus said during His earthly ministry, thus proving that Jesus’ Death and Resurrection was a perfect act of expiatory love.
- We are going to receive the same resurrection into glory that Jesus promised if we remain faithful to Him.
- The Apostles would not lie about the Resurrection, because if they believe in God, then they are condemning people to a life of sin by following a false prophet.
- The Apostles had no reason to lie. For in proclaiming Jesus resurrected, they are cast from the temple and lose all prospects of gain in this life.
If the apostles are telling the truth about the Resurrection then they gain the crown of glory in the next life. However, if they are lying, then they emerge as perjurers before God and man. If the Resurrection did not happen, then the Apostles would know the depths of trouble they were in as they would have misled generations upon generations into a false belief.
If the Resurrection was false, then why would the apostles lie and succumb to a life of persecution instead of living a life of revelry? Thus, Paul shows that the Resurrection is likely, because the apostles lying would be a most illogical plot resulting in persecution.
Hope in our own salvation
With Jesus’ divinity proven through His Resurrection, We can count on Jesus and
His teachings on love (as seen in the Beatitudes and God as the prodigal Father). These teachings of love are so powerful, they take on a force that allows the Holy Spirit to galvanize the members of the early Church in their hearts. This small community then grows so exponentially that it takes over Rome and changes the culture of the entire world.
St. Paul tells us that we have an overwhelming reason to have hope in our salvation if we continue to remain faithful to Jesus. If God did not spare his own son, if He did not hold that back from you, then He is going to do anything and everything to bring you into His Kingdom.
Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J., Ph.D., is the President of The Magis Center which provides comprehensive and systematic responses to restore, reconstruct, and revitalize belief in God and the transcendent dignity of every person.