1 Cor 15: 17-19  And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.


What if they found the body of Jesus, how would that affect your faith?” I heard this question the other day.  The man queried knew his Bible and went immediately to Paul’s gospel explanation.  The short of it is that without a risen Christ, Christianity doesn’t exist.

Reflecting on the essence of Christianity made me wonder if the Jews at the time of Jesus really understood the concept of ‘eternal life’ with God and the need to be ‘saved’ from the wrath of God in order to have a forever LOVING relationship with God.

When I sample the many texts in the OT that talk about salvation, I am left with the impression that Jews under the Old Covenant were really talking about being saved or rescued from difficult or perilous circumstances (oppression, danger, illness or poverty).  Yes, there was a moral law (the ten basic Mosaic Laws handed down TWICE by God).  Yes, real guilt or ‘asham’ in Hebrew was acknowledged (hence the Temple guilt offering). Yes, David acknowledged that when he killed Uriah he sinned against God. But many infractions were more community-based. Some were the result of inadvertently hurting a neighbor or his property.  Other deficits came about in day-to-day life, such as  giving birth, completing one’s monthly cycle, or even due to work commitments (such as burial or mold detail).

Hebrew people seem to have judged sin to be serious mainly because it separated them from the community.  OT texts talk about being unclean and thus alienated from fellowship.  Uncleanness didn’t necessarily mean breaking a moral law.  But ritualistic purification/ cleansing sacrificial acts were called for, in order to sanction a return to full communion with the group.

My premise is that 1st century Jews hearing about the New News of God had to be indoctrinated and explicitly taught this new doctrine. To fully understand the seriousness of being under God’s wrath, one needed teaching different from that of the Pharisees and Scribes.

What an extravagant and marvelous solution to the problem of God’s wrath!  We’ve lost our amazement and awe in face of not only a restoration of fellowship with God, but the whole adoption process. The gift of a loving and eventual face-to-face union with a triune God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) that will last forever?  How is that possible?

The author of Hebrews succinctly articulates this new Covenant in chapter 9, verse 15:  “Christ, the Messiah is the author of an entirely new and different covenant, so that all those who are called and offered it, may received the promised eternal inheritance. For a death has taken place; Jesus has died as a ransom to save us from sins committed under the first or old covenant….”

All the above would have stayed the fantastical imaginings of wistful dreamers had there had been a body.  But thanks be to God!  Jesus’ resurrection is vindication of the false charge of blasphemy.  Technically He was put to death for claiming that He was one and the same as God.  The fact that He didn’t stay dead, that He actually supernaturally rose and appeared to more than 500 of the brothers at the same time as well as to the major apostles is proof positive that He is God, just as He claimed.

Had there been a body, Judaism would have remained the only player.  People would have continued to do bad stuff both morally against God and His creation and technically against the community.  Animals would have continued to die to temporarily fix the problem. Precious little talk of eternal face-to-face fellowship with God as Father would have occurred.

Okay…I know, you’re thinking of how Psalm 16 ends…” in your presence is fullness of joy and at your right hand are pleasures evermore”.  I agree:  if you look for them, there are OT references to eternal life with God.  But I don’t think that doctrine was a clear and present hope.  From everything we read in gospels, temple worship was big business, all about power and money.  The only mystery was the High Priest’s once-a-year high-profile, but hidden, almost Wizard of Oz-like performance behind the veil.

This, dear friends, is what we would be left with IF the dead body of Jesus had been produced. We would be gentile worshippers of Yahweh at best, just as lost as non-worshippers, but perhaps comforted by the ritual.  After all, man is a religious animal.

So the next time you think about what it would take for you to lose your faith, be glad that Christianity is falsifiable in such a clear way.  And then rejoice that Christianity is TRUE.  Jesus, the God-man who walked on earth 2100 years ago, was for real.  He is just as real today.  And we must study our doctrine to know the glorious riches of this mystery: “Christ in you, the assurance of glory