According to a reptile expert who gave a presentation to our school when I was in junior high, Pammel State Park near Winterset, Iowa has the unique designation as one of the best places in the United States to find rattlesnakes.

The celebration of Easter highlights the uniqueness of Christianity as the only world religion whose credibility rests upon the reality of a resurrected leader. The Apostle Paul put it this way: “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain… you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:13-14,17). Apart from the resurrection there is no Christianity, which is why Paul defends the reality and riches of the resurrection.

He says the good news “by which you are saved” consists of two important events promised and fulfilled in Jesus. First, “Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3). God’s plan to rescue human beings from His wrath, which we deserve because of our rebellious nature and actions, meant the sacrifice of His sinless Son—Jesus. He bore our sins (the punishment we deserved) on the cross (1 Peter 2:24) so that all who turn from sin and trust in His death as the payment they deserve will be forgiven (John 3:16).

Secondly, after Jesus’ burial, “He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:4). Our pardon was purchased on Calvary, but our right standing with God was secured through Christ’s resurrection. “He was delivered up on account of our sins and raised again to bring about our justification.” (Romans 4:25) Without the resurrection of Jesus, our faith is vain. We are still in our sins.

Jesus’ resurrection is a fact corroborated by eyewitnesses. “And that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than 500 brethren at one time…” (1 Corinthians 15:5-6). So convinced were these eyewitnesses of the reality that many lost their lives defending it.

The reality of Christ’s resurrection points to its riches. “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who are asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:20). The faith of all who trust in Christ is not vain. We are not still in our sins, and we’ll experience new life beyond the grave.

Have you embraced the reality and riches of the Resurrection? “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (over sin and death) through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:57)

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