Q.Why does Jesus’ bodily resurrection matter? Isn’t it His message that counts?
A. St. Paul put it most bluntly: “If Christ has not been raised, then empty [too] is our preaching; empty, too, your faith. Then we are also false witnesses to God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ” (1 Cor 15:14–15).
The resurrection of Jesus isn’t separate from His message; it’s an essential aspect of that message, of one piece with the rest of the Gospel. Deny it, and we might as well deny all the rest as an unreliable fabrication. Christ’s rising from the dead is integral to the testimony of the Church about who Jesus is, what He said, and what He did, a seal of authenticity on everything else.
The Catechism puts it this way:
“The Resurrection above all constitutes the confirmation of all Christ’s works and teachings. All truths, even those most inaccessible to human reason, find their justification if Christ by His resurrection has given the definitive proof of His divine authority, which He had promised. Christ’s resurrection is the fulfillment of the promises both of the Old Testament and of Jesus Himself during His earthly life. … The truth of Jesus’ divinity is confirmed by His resurrection” (CCC, 651–53).
At the same time, Christ’s resurrection is the source of our present life with God, which came about after the death of our old life trapped in sin: “The Paschal mystery has two aspects: by His death, Christ liberates us from sin; by His resurrection, He opens for us the way to a new life … and a new participation in grace” (CCC, 654).
Finally, Christ’s resurrection is essential to Christian faith because, as St. Paul went on to say, without it “those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished” (1 Corinthians 15:18). Our own hope of resurrection is based on the reality of His. “Christ, ‘the first-born from the dead’ (Colossians 1:18), is the principle of our own resurrection, even now by the justification of our souls (see Romans 6:4), and one day by the new life He will impart to our bodies (see Romans 8:11)” (CCC, 658).