In my office, I have two red chairs. As far as chairs go, they are rather ordinary things. They have cushions and armrests and four legs. One of them, however, is slowly decaying. One of the legs is beginning to wobble and crunch when pushed at just the right angle. Eventually this chair will have to go because, three legs will not hold the weight of the chair and, even worse, it’ll become a liability for whoever sits on it. Without proper support, a tool meant for comfort can quickly become an accidental means towards injury.
Have you ever considered Christianity as such a thing? I don’t mean that it’s a chair, or that it wobbles when pushed upon in a specific way. But I mean that the whole structure can only stand and accomplish its God-ordained design if its legs stand firm and secure. One of those legs that supports the faith is the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
The Apostle Paul makes that idea most plain in 1 Corinthians 15. The whole chapter is a defense of the historic bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Sometimes people who’ve sought to reconcile Christianity with their view of science and the world have sought to remove the offense of the faith by spiritualizing the resurrection or making it an invisible spiritual reality. Like a buffet, they’ll select some parts of the Gospel they enjoy while rejecting others. Is this a Christian approach? A more basic question to ask is “Did Jesus stay dead?” What does the Bible have to say about this matter?
Jesus did not stay dead. After three days, He was resurrected from the dead and was alive again. The Bible has no nuance to this answer. The Bible has no shame in the miraculous. There is only one position given in the Scriptures, “The Lord has risen indeed.” (Luke 24:34 ESV) What difficulty does the resurrection pose to the God who created all things from nothing by the word of His Power? What difficulty is the resurrection to the God who formed man from the dust of the earth? What difficulty is there for the God who commands every particle, cell, beast, and galaxy to His own holy purposes? These questions are meant to remind us that God stands in a class all His own. He is not just a bigger, smarter version of us. God alone is the Creator who stands infinitely above us as His creatures.
We are meant in the resurrection of Jesus to not only marvel at the power of God but also to recognize the meaning of this event. The resurrection was not merely an empty parlor trick, or an unrelated unexplainable occurrence void of significance. If it’s not a meaningless coincidence, then what is it?
Just as His death was more than a mere event (see Hebrews 10) so also His resurrection is ripe with meaning. Jesus’ resurrection was a display of His faithfulness as God’s prophet. Jesus repeatedly told His disciples beforehand that he would be crucified, die, and raise from the dead (Matt. 16:21; 17:23; 20:19). One purpose behind the resurrection was to verify the entire ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Another important aspect of Christ’s resurrection was in its benefits for His bride, the church. On this point, we must turn to the language of Paul in Romans 4:25. Christ “was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” (ESV) Christ was raised by the power of God the Father for the justification of His people. This can become difficult because of the terms used. Our own Westminster Shorter Catechism helps us understand justification in this way, “Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein he pardons all our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.” (WSC 33)
Seen rightly, this means that Jesus’ death was not a mere event, but the chief event that secured our salvation forever. There is a definitive relationship between Jesus’ bodily resurrection and our own need to be born again. Because Jesus’ resurrection proves that He has been accepted by God for us, we can have the assurance of our salvation that we too are accepted by God for His sake. We are so united to Christ that all He accomplished is done in our place and for our sakes. We can have peace with God because our Redeemer lives. Because He is alive, we can face death with hope. Death is not a departure into the gloom of deterioration as others would lie to you. It is the believer’s entrance into the glory of God’s presence. It is likewise for the unbeliever their entrance into the horrors of eternal torment. Jesus made this clear in John 3:16-18.
Returning to our chair illustration, the resurrection is no mere appendage to the faith, but one of the chief legs upon which the whole faith stands upon. Remove it, and you may have a religion, an ethic, a philosophy, but what you lack is salvation in Christ. You lack the very hope needed to conquer your sins. The Apostle Paul tells us straightly, “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins . . . . [and] we are of all people most to be pitted. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Cor. 15:17, 19-20 ESV)
May this embolden you in resting in the work of Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. May this grant you peace with God as you rest in the certainty of Christ’s resurrection. May you godly proclaim to others, that their lives are not accidents, and this world is not doomed to darkness. Instead, the Son of Glory has come and conquered Satan, sin, and death and bids you come and believe in Him so that you too may taste and delight in your spiritual resurrection today, and future resurrection in the world to come.