Most of us probably have a pretty good handle on the importance of Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins. Without it we would be eternally lost, separated from God, and bearing the just punishment for our sin. But as we celebrate Resurrection Sunday, can we as confidently explain the importance of His resurrection? Why is it so important that Jesus is alive? Why should we so joyfully declare, “He lives”?
Paul gives us a glimpse of how vital the resurrection is to our salvation and hope of eternal life when he declares, “If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (1 Cor. 15:13-14). That’s a pretty stark statement. If Christ had not been raised our faith would be worthless, and we would have no hope. Paul also tells us that our salvation is contingent on both our declaration that Jesus is Lord, and believing that God raised Him from the death (Rom. 10:9); our confidence that He lives is a necessary sign of true faith. We must realize that this is different from when one of us dies and “goes to heaven.” Jesus died, but was resurrected, raised to life, then ascended to heaven alive. This is an important distinction to keep in our minds.
The resurrection from the dead signified that God had accepted Jesus’ sacrifice as the satisfaction of the justice due for our sin. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus was not only brought back to life, He was exalted to the right hand of the Father where He lives and continues to work on our behalf. He is our hope because He is called the “firstfruit” or firstborn from the dead (1 Cor. 15:20; Col. 1:18). In everything He goes before us. He lives to make a way for us, and to prepare the way for us, as He promised in John 14:2-3. There He said He was going ahead of us to make ready a place for us; then He would return to take us to be where He is.
His life there is not only an important sign of our salvation, it is essential for our life here each day. This is because one of the vital things Jesus does for us is to be our Mediator (1 Tim. 2:5), our Advocate (1 John 2:1), our Intercessor (Heb. 7:25). All of these are different facets of His High Priestly role. What a comfort and confidence are ours when we realize that He is alive, standing before the Father and interceding on our behalf. What does it mean to you when you realize that in the midst of your trials Jesus is praying for you? We see examples of how He prays for us in the Gospels. He prayed that the disciples’ faith would not fail (Luke 22:32). In John 17 we see Him praying for unity, spiritual protection, etc. In Zechariah 3 we glimpse a heavenly scene where He defends us from the accusations of the enemy. He never ceases to uplift and defend us. We could not survive one day in this world if He wasn’t alive and advocating on our behalf.
The fact that He is alive is not only our survival in this world it is our hope in the next. As we saw above, if Christ has not been raised we won’t be either. But because He is, indeed, alive, look at what we have been promised:
• Romans 8:11 – And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of His Spirit who lives in you.
• 1 Thessalonians 4:14 – For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him.
• Philippians 2:20-21 – But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.
• Revelation 1:18 – I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.
He lives! And because He lives we can have confidence, victory, and joy in this life. Let the impact of this blessed truth sink in, and let it inspire a deeper worship and true celebration of the fact He lives!