Which Is More Important: Jesus’ Death or Resurrection?

By   •   April 6, 2023   •   Topics:

John Howard Sanden painted “The Empty Tomb” mural for the Billy Graham Library in 2021, a year before he passed away. It's featured in the Library's Journey of Faith tour.

With the Easter season upon us, I find that people tend to focus their attention on one of two areas. Some place significant emphasis on Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross. Others want to race past the pain that Christ endured on our behalf and focus on the hope of the resurrection.

But to fully understand Christ’s finished work on the cross, we must equally consider each of these pivotal moments. Combined, they change history, life, and eternity.

Good Friday

Good Friday certainly did not seem good at the time. Indeed, what happened that day was horrific and torturous. Jesus was betrayed by one of His best friends and put through a sham trial under the Roman governor Pontius Pilate.

He was beaten and whipped. A crown of thorns was mockingly shoved onto Jesus’ head and He was forced to carry His own heavy cross. Ultimately, Jesus was nailed to the cross where His suffering and death was a public spectacle.

Why did Jesus endure so much agony? It was because of you and me. He died for us. The Bible is clear on this matter. Jesus took on our sins and paid the price for them.

The Bible says that we’ve all sinned, and that sin in our lives has separated us from God (Romans 3:23). It also says that the punishment for that sin is death (Romans 6:23), but Jesus took the punishment that we deserved for our sins when He was crucified to the cross.

2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For He [God] made Him [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

1 John 2:2 says, “And He [Jesus] Himself is the propitiation [i.e. atonement] for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.”


Just days earlier, Jesus had been mocked, beaten, and executed, but death could not hold Him. On Easter (also known as Resurrection Sunday), we celebrate that He is risen!

Jesus conquered sin, death, and the grave. What does this mean? It means everything! The fact that Jesus rose from the dead—as He said He would—changes the trajectory of eternity.

It is interesting that Jesus regularly—across all four of the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—foretold His resurrection from the dead. In fact, it was to be the sign authenticating His claims to be the Messiah. That this event occurred and is recorded in each of these books is exceedingly important—so important that it is the difference between life and death, heaven and hell.

If Jesus was just a religious leader who was persecuted for His teachings and executed by the Roman government, He would—sadly, yet simply—be another in a long line of martyrs. We might not even remember His name some 2,000 years later.

But Jesus wasn’t just another martyr. He is the Son of God—“the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6)—and He conquered the unconquerable. He defeated death itself. That is why the apostle Paul reveled, “‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?’ The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 55:54b-57).

The Finished Work of the Cross

Together, Good Friday and Easter show us the love of God and the power of God—the path to reconciliation with Him.

In His death and resurrection, Jesus bridged the gap between us and God—the gap caused by our sin—and made it possible for us to have a personal relationship with Him. Now, rather than fearing death, we who call upon Jesus as Savior can understand it as the beginning of Heaven and eternity with Christ. As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:8: “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.”

If you’ve never surrendered your sin, sought Jesus’ forgiveness, and accepted Him as your Savior, I encourage you to do that today. Jesus took your sins and died for you. He paid the penalty you could not afford. More than that, He conquered the grave and is alive today! Will you live for Him?