We can’t claim to worship Jesus as our Lord, and we certainly can’t claim to be redeemed by Him and discount the resurrection. There are two good reasons this is true:
First, Jesus said He would rise from the dead. In Matthew 16:21 we read, “From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” Since Jesus predicted His own resurrection, if He did not rise, then we would have to conclude He was lying or insane. And if He was lying or insane, how can we believe anything else He said? Many years ago, C.S. Lewis authored the classic book “Mere Christianity” in which he made this now famous statement: “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
Secondly, the resurrection validates what Jesus did on the cross. The empty tomb appears in a sequence of truth: At the cross Jesus proclaimed victory over Satan by paying our debt and setting us free from the prison of sin, and when He emerged alive from the tomb Jesus proclaimed victory over the penalty of human death. By this very public display, Jesus was able to validate something that was not that easy to see; His victory over sin at the cross. This methodology was similar to Jesus’ healing of the lame man in Capernaum (Mark 2:1-12). Jesus eventually healed the lame man, which was something everyone could see, to prove He had the power to forgive his sins, which could not be seen.
The Apostle Paul addressed the subject of validation in his first letter to the Corinthians. Evidently, there were people in Paul’s day who believed it was possible to follow Jesus without clinging to the resurrection. In 1 Corinthians 12-20 Paul wrote, “But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 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 to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
When Jesus rose from the dead He established Himself as the Victor over Satan. It became evident to everyone He had been victorious all along, even if for a moment His death on the cross suggested otherwise. This fact has huge implications for each of us when we face circumstances beyond our control. Jesus was victorious over sin and death, and He gives us victory over all of Satan’s devices.