All four Gospels record the fact of Christ’s resurrection, but they say little about why it matters.
To understand the resurrection’s importance, you must go to the rest of the New Testament, especially the epistles.
Paul describes the importance of the resurrection of Jesus in Romans 4: “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”
“Delivered over” is an expression used elsewhere in the Bible for God’s judgment upon sinners, implying that Christ, who was without sin, became sin for us all, dying in our place.
But the phrase, “He was delivered over to death for our sins,” says nothing about our being forgiven.
Our forgiveness is proclaimed in the next clause, “and was raised to life for our justification.”
“Justification” is a legal term, meaning that God, the Judge, declares you to be in the right, or “righteous,” in his sight.
This is the chief article of the Christian religion, and it depends completely on the resurrection of Jesus.
To be justified is to be forgiven and in a right relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ, and that is why Easter matters.
Jesus died for our sins on Good Friday, but our forgiveness became an accomplished fact on Easter Sunday.
Rev. Bryan Wolfmueller, a Lutheran pastor, uses a football analogy to illustrate this.
Many of us assume a touchdown is scored when the player with the ball crosses the plane of the goal line, but that’s not really true.
A touchdown is scored for the team only when the official who has the best view of the play raises both arms to signal the touchdown.
Only then is it official; only then are points awarded to the team.
That illustrates what happened on Easter.
God the Father had the best view of Christ’s suffering and death, and his raising of Jesus is equivalent to the official raising his arms to signal that the touchdown is good, meaning that forgiveness is now awarded to “team humanity.”
In other words, it does sinners like ourselves no good for Jesus to cross the goal line and die for us on Good Friday unless the Father officially approves of his sacrifice on Easter by raising Jesus from the dead.
In raising Jesus, God shows that he accepts Christ’s sacrifice for the sins of the world, and all who believe this good news are declared righteous before God.
This means that Good Friday and Easter are like two sides of the same coin. They cannot be separated.
Without the death of Jesus for the sins of the world on Good Friday, there could be no Easter.
And without Easter, Good Friday would not be good at all.
Good Friday is incomplete without Easter. It’s like half a coin: worthless.
It would be just another day and Jesus would be just another forgotten victim of crucifixion.
But Jesus was not forgotten.
On the third day, God the Father raised Jesus from the dead, and in doing so, God has awarded righteousness to sinners, won forgiveness for all humanity, and elevated Jesus as the supreme object of faith.