Have you noticed that sometimes a very small word can make a very large difference? One of those small words is the word “if.” The word “if” is used all the time. “If you will, so will I.” “If I had the money, I would go.” “If only I had…”

Webster states that the word “if” is used to say that something must happen before another thing can happen. This little word is a giant when spoken in the context of Easter.

Paul makes a series of dramatic conclusions based on the word “if” in 1 Corinthians 15. If the dead in Christ are not raised from the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. Jesus was very straightforward that day outside of Lazarus’ tomb.

“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die.” (John 22:25-26)

So Paul makes the powerful point that if the dead in Christ do not rise from the dead, Jesus was a liar and, in fact, he died—period. No resurrection after three days, and no empty tomb. No hope!

Paul goes on to declare that if Jesus did not rise from the dead, preachers are delusional and full of hot air. If Christ is not risen, preachers are pawning a lie, and everyone who puts their faith in what preachers say is delusional along with them and believing a lie.

Moreover, if Christ did not arise from the grave, then all hope is gone. Life is a puff of wind; when life concludes, we return to dust and there is nothing more. Any hope for tomorrow is a religious fiction novel that spins a great hopeful tale, but in the end it is meaningless. We perish into nothingness.

I have always been taken back by the bluntness of Paul’s words. If Christ is not risen and we hope only in this life, we are, of all people, to be the most pitied on planet Earth. If our faith in a resurrected Christ Who promises to raise us from the dead is a lie, then we have not just believed a lie, but lived a lie.

Consider that our faith in Christ is not pie in the sky, but faith that impacts the way we see the world, the way we order our lives, and the way we think about every event that touches us. We do not live just for today; we have hope for tomorrow.

Life may be tough, even excruciatingly painful. Yet, as Christians, we believe with every fiber of our being that the suffering of this present hour will one day be swallowed up in the glory of eternity. We, as Christians, are confident that Jesus came to Earth, died to pay the penalty of our sin and rebellion, and on the third day, He arose victorious over sin, death, and hell. Because of Jesus Christ, we are forgiven and have received the gift of eternal life. Our hope for today and tomorrow rests squarely on His death and resurrection. Without Easter, hope dies!

If Christ be not risen…But (another of those small yet mighty words) in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead!!!! And because of the first Easter morning, hope reigns eternal in the heart of every believer. As Christians, preaching is powerful to the changing of lives. Our faith is not empty, and we are not to be pitied. Our hope is alive because He lives!

Happy Easter to all.