What difference does it make? While many of your minds are now turning to an infamous political statement, the intent of this question is actually to turn our thoughts to the impact of the resurrection. What difference does it make that Jesus is alive?
We so often hear the phrase, “Jesus died for our sins,” and we talk about the cross and the blood, and the forgiveness, atonement, and propitiation that the substitutionary death of Jesus brought to us. His death was truly essential: we would not be saved without it. But His resurrection is also essential. It matters greatly that He’s alive.
Paul tells us, “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith…and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; and you are still in your sins. Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost…But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead…For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead came also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:14, 17-18, 20, 22).
Jesus could not have only died for our sins in order that we be saved. His resurrection was the evidence that His sacrifice was accepted by God. If we have faith in only His death and not His resurrection our faith will be futile. This is because the resurrection is full of implications and power that are essential for full salvation. There are a lot of people who put faith in the fact that Jesus died for their sins, but have not embraced the implications, claims and power of the resurrection, and therefore are not saved. They want a Savior who will forgive them and give them heaven, but not a risen Lord who places claims of authority over the lives of those He redeems.
The fact that Jesus is alive implies that the promises God made about exalting Him above all, including His enemies, is being fulfilled. The first enemy to be defeated was death. Death was the curse pronounced on mankind when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. They were told upfront what the consequences would be, but did it anyway, bringing death to them and all their descendants. The Hebrew word for death implies separation, not just ceasing to exist. Jesus broke the curse through His resurrection, and now we can be united with God and live with Him eternally.
Philippians 2:9 says because of Jesus’ obedience unto death, God has exalted Him to the highest place and given Him authority to reign, that “every tongue would confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” His resurrection sealed this authority, this Lordship, and its implication is that every knee will bow in acknowledgement of His rule. There is no need to do this to a dead savior, which is why many people may be willing to go as far as admitting Jesus died for them. But there is every reason to submit to the lordship of the One who has all authority and power to insist we do so, and people will balk at that commitment.
This living Lordship is not just power over us, it is power for us, and power in us. Somehow, mysteriously, we died with Christ in His redemptive death (Gal. 2:20), but we have also been raised with Christ, united with Him, and are seated with Him in heavenly places—all because He is alive! His power for us ensures we are not at the mercy of His enemy and ours. And His power in us gives us victory over temptation and sin. We would not have this protection or provision without a risen, living Lord.
The fact that He is alive is also essential because “He ever lives to make intercession for us.” He prays for us as we face our trials, much like He did for Peter—that our faith will not fail—or as He did for His disciples, and us, in John 17. And as our advocate, our risen Lord sits beside the Father, and every time the accuser of the brethren charges us with crimes (true or false), Jesus comes to our defense and says, “I’ve forgiven that.”
A book could be written on all the reasons it is essential that Jesus is alive, but these few are enough to encourage us to remember and to sing with joy, confidence, and worshiping hearts. He’s Alive!
by Sheri Cook, Director of Special Ministries