WHY the Resurrection?
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 1 Corinthians 15:20-21
We’re all still reeling from the shocking attack in a Christian school in Nashville. Three children and three adult staff died, as well as the shooter when police officers arrived. Let us pray for comfort for those who mourn.
That event, along with all the other wickedness in the world, highlights the importance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Why? How can it encourage us? Why is the resurrection of Christ important in Scripture? What does it demonstrate and prove?
1. It Proves the Deity of Jesus Christ
He was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord… (Rom. 1:4).
Paul’s logic, collapsed in this one verse, is impeccable: a. Jesus claimed to be the unique Son of God (John 5:18, 10:30), and indeed he was crucified for those claims to deity (Matt. 26:25). b. We’re left with only two choices in evaluating those astonishing claims: either they are wholly true or damnably false. c. God the Father proved his Son’s words to be true and trustworthy by raising him from the dead. Therefore, we worship him as Jesus Christ our Lord, the Second Person of the Trinity. Nothing could be more clear.
2. It Proves God Accepts Us
(Righteousness) will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification (Rom. 4:24-25).
“Justification” means God declaring us “just”—completely righteous in his eyes. How could he possibly do that? David knew he had a major problem here. He cried out to the Lord, Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities (Psa. 51:9) after his high-handed adultery and murder—which no Old Covenant sacrifice could cover. God’s forgiveness of David anticipated the once-for-all atonement of the Son of Man (who) came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Matt. 20:28). “The hand of God reaches down into the cold Judean tomb, and the body of Christ is quickened. He rises. The stone is rolled away. Jesus is exalted to the right hand of the Father. By these acts we know that God has accepted the perfect sacrifice of his Son for sin.” And his perfect life is credited (“imputed”) to those who trust in his Son, so our holy God justly declares them to be righteous.
3. It Proves God Changes Us
We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4).
The theological word is “sanctification”—to be made holy. We fall so short of this standard, and we have no power in ourselves to change. Yet because Christ is risen, he sends the Holy Spirit into us, his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead (Eph. 1:19-20). He has freed us from sin’s guilt, and also its power. Therefore, Paul confidently encourages believers, “Present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace (Rom. 6:13-14). Never again may we despair of the Spirit’s transformative work in us. The empty tomb assures it.
4. It Proves the Final Judgment
God commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead (Acts 17:30-31).
Paul pronounced those strong words to the scholars of Athens. Just as the resurrection of Christ proves his claims of deity, it seals his claim to be the Judge over all. That sobering reality should strike terror into every unrepentant sinner, and comforting hope in every believer. On that Day of perfect justice, all wrongs will be righted and every tear wiped away. At the cross sin appeared to triumph, but in the resurrection God proved that the victory was all his.
5. It Proves Our Own Resurrection and Eternal Life
For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep (1 Thes. 4:14).
In the face of Martha’s grief over her dead brother, the Lord said, 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 11:25-26). Then he asks her—and every human being since—one penetrating question: Do you believe this? May that question resound all over the world during this season! May we believers believe! Find in the resurrection of Christ your rock-solid hope that no amount of suffering can take away. And may other desperate sinners understand this hope, and believe it, and receive this Risen Christ right now.
Enjoy a wonderful Easter season and spring!
James M. Boice, Foundations of the Christian Faith (Downers Grove: IVP), p. 344. His summary is similar to this one.