When they went over to his body and gathered around him, they opened up his hand and in his hand they found the crust of a spider's web.  What this man thought was brick was nothing but a spider's web.  Well, if Jesus Christ is not the risen Son of God, He is not the Rock of Ages, He's no more solid than a spider's web.

You see what gives meaning to the birth of Jesus Christ is the life of Jesus Christ.  Had He not lived a sinless life, the virgin birth would have been meaningless.  But what gives meaning to the life of Jesus Christ is the death of Jesus Christ.  Because if He had not given His sinless life as a sacrifice for our sins, dying on the cross that He might gain our forgiveness from God, then His sinless life would have been meaningless. 

But what gives meaning to the death of Jesus Christ is the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Because if He has not been raised from the dead, then He could not have been who He said He was, and therefore His birth, life, and death are all meaningless.  That's why Paul said that Jesus "was delivered up because of our offenses and was raised because of our justification." (Rom. 4:25)    In other words, without an empty tomb the cross is meaningless. 

In an oriental market oftentimes you will see people walk up to a counter; they'll see some merchandise they like and they will put down on the table what they feel the merchandise is worth.  If the price is acceptable to the seller, the seller will raise his hand.  May I tell you today that when God raised Jesus from the dead He was raising His hand saying to a lost world, "I accept the price that my Son, Jesus Christ, paid on the cross for your sins."  The empty tomb is God's receipt that Jesus has paid for our sins.  Without it our faith is irrelevant.

But there's a worse problem.  Forgiveness is impossible.  He goes on to say in verse 17, "you are still in your sins!"  In other words, if Jesus is still physically dead, then we are still spiritually dead.  Sin is still a chain that binds us.  Sin is still a load that burdens us.  Sin is still a hammer that breaks us.  If we are still in our sins and God is still in his holiness, then it is impossible ever to have a relationship with God.

III.  We Must Forsake Our Ministry

If Jesus Christ has not been raised from the dead, we have no ministry to offer either to the living or to the dying.  We can offer no hope for the dying.  Paul says in verse 18, "Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished."  It means death still has its sting.  It means the grave still has its victory.  Life is just a form of Russian roulette and all we can do is wonder which day will fire the fatal bullet.

If Jesus has not been raised from the dead there is no hope now, and there is no heaven later.  Your loved ones are lost.  When you buried that mother or that father it didn't matter whether they were godly or not; it did not matter if they had faith in Jesus or not; it did not matter if they knew Christ or not.  You may as well have been burying a dead dog in a dry hole.  If Jesus Christ has not been raised from the dead there is not enough gold in Fort Knox or enough tea in China to make me do another funeral.