It has been said that we can be a Christian and not know or understand all there is about the resurrection, but we cannot be a Christian if we do not believe in the resurrection. Paul tells us that the Gospel is the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:1Now brothers, I want to clarify for you the gospel I proclaimed to you; you received it and have taken your stand on it. 2 You are also saved by it, if you hold to the message I proclaimed to you — unless you believed for no purpose. 3 For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” (CSB)
There would not be a Christian faith if Jesus had not risen from the dead. Hopelessness and despair would have destroyed the disciples and their unity would have quickly dissolved. None of them would have willingly suffered the extreme persecution they faced during those early days. (see Acts 5:41) There would be no church that is still in existence some two thousand years later and there would be no Sunday worship. (Devoted Jews always worshipped on the Sabbath / Saturday. see Ex 20:28 vs. Acts 20:7) In addition, there would be no New Testament in the Bible and you wouldn’t be reading this devotional today.
Jesus understood the importance of His disciples being totally convinced of His resurrection. Acts 1:3 After He had suffered, He also presented Himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during 40 days and speaking about the kingdom of God. CSB Jesus did not immediately return to His Father. He spent 40 days here on earth before He went back to heaven. Why 40 days?
Numbers are often used in the Bible as symbols. For instance, the number 7 represents completion or perfection. The number 6, being one short of 7, often represents man. The number 3 represents the trinity and the number 12 is sometimes used as a symbol of God’s perfect government. What does the number 40 represent? Forty (40) is often used as a symbol of trial or examination. For instance, it rained for 40 days and 40 nights during the flood. The spies were in the Promised Land for 40 days for their investigation. The children of Israel spent 40 years in the wilderness as a result of their unbelief. 40 was the maximum number of lashes a convicted criminal could receive. And Jesus spent 40 days of fasting in the wilderness before He was tempted by Satan.
So why did Jesus remain with His disciples 40 days after His resurrection? The Bible says that He did so in order to convince His disciples that He was alive. Jesus knew that they would never be able to do the work that needed to be done if they had any doubt about His resurrection.
Some of you have heard of a man named Lee Strobel. Strobel described himself as a “spiritual skeptic.” Having degrees both in law and journalism, his original intent was to thoroughly investigate the claims of Christianity and prove them false. Through two years of careful examination of both biblical and non-biblical sources, he became convinced that Jesus was indeed the Savior of the world and that He was alive, just as His disciples had said. Having been convinced of the resurrection, this former skeptic became a leading defender of the faith.