Growing up, all of us have seen movies that have both inspired and terrified us. Many directors possess the skills to take our imaginations to new heights. Steven Spielberg was one of the best ones. He directed movies such as E.T., Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Jaws forming almost the perfect trifecta of entertainment. Childhood dreams and fears were built around them. But for all his brilliance, the man just can’t do endings. Too often his movies are over-resolved, with things tied up a bit too neatly and set against a sunset that begs belief… just watch A.I.
Too many of us view the resurrection of Jesus similarly—as little more than a nice, happy conclusion to the gospel story. As if after all the darkness of the betrayal, denial, and death, Spielberg was brought in to do the ending. Somewhere in the background a lavish sunset blazes away.
But the Easter story isn’t just “what happens next” to Jesus after His death. It does not just wrap up the story; it fulfills it. In fact, there really is no story without it. It is not just a matter of chronology but theology. According to Paul, without it, we have nothing and are nothing. The resurrection saves us. Good Friday is no good at all without Easter Sunday.
The resurrection doesn’t just wrap up the story; it fulfills it. Good Friday is no good at all without Easter Sunday. We do not understand that without the resurrection, there is no salvation. Paul reveals the necessity of Easter in a striking way. In Romans 4:25 we read, “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”
He connects the resurrection to our justification. He’s not saying we’re half-saved by the cross and half-saved by the resurrection. But he is saying without the resurrection, we are lost. No resurrection means no justification. In 1 Corinthians 15:17, we read, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” If Jesus is dead, our sin debt remains unpaid, and we would still be under sin’s dominion. If there was no Easter life for Jesus, there is no new life for us. The blood of Jesus saves us because He is now alive.
But why exactly do we need the resurrection for these things to be certain? The wider story of the Bible shows us. The raising of Jesus from death is significant because death is significant. Only when we understand what death means will we be able to grasp what Easter means. There is a temptation to separate death from life, but the reality is, death and life are connected. But there is something else connected with death and that is sin.
Sin births death. Death is the consequence of sin. Adam was told this as far back as Genesis 2 when God said, eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and “you will surely die.” God is life, so turning from Him is fatal. We learn from Romans 6:23 and James 1:15, that sin both earns death and births death. Death is what sin chooses, what sin receives, and what sin deserves.
This accounts for why we have such a strange perception of death. Death is, when we think about it, one of the most normal things about living in this world, as sure as our birth. Yet we can’t reconcile ourselves to this reality. Death never really feels natural. It feels wrong. So we put a huge effort into living as though death is not going to happen.
Our unease with death indicates we know perhaps more than we realize. We learn from creation that death. like sin, wasn’t God’s intention and really does not belong here. It’s something we were not meant to experience. But sin leads to death, and so the existence of death proves the reality of sin.
As we grasp the significance of death, we can start to see the significance of the resurrection. Raising Jesus from the dead was not an arbitrary stunt by God the Father. It wasn’t just a mega-miracle to prove He’s still there and still bigger—though that is true. No, the resurrection has meaning. The resurrection is the outworking and proof of our salvation because death is the outworking and proof of our sin. Jesus’s new life shows us the cycle of sin and death has finally been broken. There is new life to be had. Sin has been conquered.
When companies make business deals, nothing is ratified until the parties sign the contracts. In a sense, the resurrection of Jesus is God’s signature on our salvation. It is the resurrection of Jesus—and can only be the resurrection of Jesus—that assures us of salvation. Only the resurrection proves that our sins have been fully dealt with, that death is no longer our destination but a gateway to a perfect, endless life.
The cross is not a deposit towards our salvation. God doesn’t drum up most of what we need only to leave us fishing around in our pockets to provide the rest. By dying and rising for us, the Son has closed the deal. In raising Him from the dead, the Father has signed for it.