Jesus prophesied about Himself to his disciples, saying, “they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise” (Mk 10:34). You can just imagine the disgruntled faces of the disciples. Not only was resurrection a hot topic in Jesus’ time, but there was nothing in the Scriptures that led anyone to ever believe the Messiah would be resurrected.
This is a fact that modern day Christians never even note. We know the story of Jesus so well today that we often aren’t concerned with reading all of the prophecies about Him. We just figure that if we really cared to do the research, we would find all the crucial bits and pieces of His life in the Old Testament somewhere, since the New Testament writers are always telling us He fulfilled different prophecies. But the idea of the Messiah being resurrected is not there (or at least not explicitly). The disciples have no grounds to believe that Jesus’ prophecy will come true. Perhaps they even think it’s another one of His parables that they’re misunderstanding. Because in the end, even if you are a resurrection-believing Pharisee, nothing has ever actually happened to prove such a doctrine to be real.
But again, Jesus assures us not only that resurrection is a thing, but that the very concept is embodied in Him. “I am the resurrection and the life,” He says. “Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (Jn 11:25-26).
Well? Do you? Because if this was a topic that was hard for people to grasp two thousand years ago, you better believe we have a problem believing it today in the enlightened western world. Many of us often end up crossing the line in Christianity, writing out anything that sounds supernatural, including the resurrection. Not only does this make for an incredibly weak faith, but if there truly is no resurrection, Paul would lament over us.
But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. (1 Cor 15:13-19)
In the end, you cannot have a purely scientific view of Christianity and be right, for at way too many points the whole thing crumbles and in the end you are not in need of a savior. Jesus proves that the the Sadducees are wrong: There is such a thing as resurrection—and to return to a faith that says otherwise is to become spiritually primitive, not advanced.
Jesus is the resurrection and the life and without resurrection, to rephrase Paul’s words more bluntly: “We’re all screwed.” If we want this superior way of life, then we must believe in it and appeal to Jesus for it, for He is “the firstborn from the dead” (Col 1:18)—that is to say He is the first to be resurrected. Yes, others have been raised from the dead both before and after Jesus, but being raised from the dead and being resurrected are not the same thing. And even if it was the same thing, those who were raised from the dead in the Bible still went on to die again. Other than Enoch and Elijah, we have no record of people living on forever—and even those two were not resurrected, but simply never died.
Therefore, if we want resurrection, only Jesus can offer it to us—plain and simple; for He is the resurrection. In order to receive resurrection, you must appeal to the one who can offer it in the first place and went the distance to show that He could. He is God incarnate and therefore the only one who can actually tell us what Heaven and resurrection is like; for He is from Heaven and has been resurrected. So if we want to get to Heaven too, then we need Him specifically. There is no resurrection outside of Him. Everyone else is a slave to death. If you want to beat death, then there’s only one person who can take care of it for you. And it’s there in Jesus that you will find life abundant—not just in the resurrection, but also right now in this life.