N.T. Wright points out that the idea of bodily resurrection was debated among the Jews before Christ, and the idea of resurrection is explicitly in the Old Testament (e.g., Ezekial 37:1-14, the vision of the valley of dry bones). The Pharisees, for example, were looking for an earthly, political return of Israel, at which time those who had been loyal to the Torah would be resurrected. Wright argues that Christianity in some ways grew out of the movement called “second-temple Judaism,” which also saw resurrection in the light of prophesy regarding Israel’s fortunes. In any event, resurrection meant one thing: fulfillment of the prophecies of the Old Testament.
Pope Emeritus Joseph Ratzinger writes that to the Christian, belief in the Resurrection is equivalent to believing that “‘Love is strong as death’” (302, citing Song 8:6). Ratzinger argues that self-made attempts at immortality (e.g., by having children or creating fame), is shallow: “more nonbeing than being” (303). The only true immortality can arise through the power of love, and attaching yourself to that power through Christ. “His resurrection is our life” (306), according to Ratzinger. “[O]nly his love, coinciding with God’s own power of life and love, can be the foundation of our immortality” (306). In God, the “power of love had really proved itself stronger than the power of death” (310).
To Christians, Christ’s death on the cross and His Resurrection is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophesy and the beginning of the Kingdom of God, where death itself has been defeated. “He was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). Jesus Christ was bodily resurrected, and by his sacrifice, all who believe in him are saved, and will also be bodily resurrected and join him in paradise after our death.