posted on Sep, 28 2018 @ 05:02 PM
“But God raised him up, having loosed the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.” – Acts ch2 v24
The message of the New Testament centres upon the death of Jesus on the Cross.
But the Christian faith would have been still-born if the Cross had not been followed by the Resurrection.
Hence the importance of Peter’s message in the words just quoted.
His hearers, the people of Jerusalem, took Jesus and handed him over to “lawless men”, so that he should be crucified and killed.
But the power of God was greater than the power of death, and raised him up again.
The Resurrection has the effect of turning an apparent defeat into a victory.
The effect is decisive.
The consequence, for Christ himself, is that he is exalted to a new status not previously seen in the man Jesus;
“This Jesus whom you crucified, know assuredly that God has made him both Lord and Christ” (v26).
As Paul puts it elsewhere, he was designated Son of God “in power” by his resurrection from the dead (Romans ch1 v4).
In this exalted state, he “ascends into heaven” and returns to the Father;
“The Father of glory… raised him from the dead and made him at his right hand in the heavenly places” (Ephesians ch1 vv17-20).
“When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of his Majesty on high” (Hebrews ch1 v3).
In that place he is able to intercede for us (Romans ch6 v34), whether we think of this as the work of an advocate in court (1 John ch2 v1), or as the
work of a temple priest (Hebrews ch9 v24).
His position also gives him authority over the rest of the world;
“God 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 men
by raising him from the dead” (Acts ch17 vv30-31).
I will be considering the significance of the Lordship of Christ on a later occasion.
The Resurrection also has consequences for those who belong to Christ.
It has brought us into a new relationship with God, completing the process which began on the Cross.
“He was put to death for our trespasses, and raised for our justification” (Romans ch4 v25).
“For if, while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life”
There is no need to be too precise in separating out these two sets of experiences, being reconciled on the one hand, being justified and saved on the
The Crucifixion and the Resurrection are two stages in the same event, symbolising two different aspects of the same process.
In his last discourse with his disciples, Jesus promised to send them “another counsellor” in his place, “the Spirit of truth”;
“It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I did not go away, the Counsellor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you” (John
This promise was fulfilled by the scene in Acts ch2, as Peter goes on to say;
“Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this which
you see and hear” (v33)..
And the gift of the Spirit is the sign that those who belong to Christ share in this new resurrection life.
“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus Christ from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal
bodies also” (Romans ch8 v11).
It is a promise that we will share in the resurrection; “we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his” (Romans ch6 v5).
But we need not wait for the resurrection, for we may already, by the same power, “walk in newness of life” (v4).
The benefits of being “reconciled”, and receiving the Spirit, and the new life that follows, will be considered in more detail on later
The main point, for the present, is that the Resurrection is the event that makes them possible.
That is why the Christ who is taught in the New Testament is a resurrected Christ.
The Resurrection is a vital element in all the brief summaries of the gospel;
“…that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the
scriptures” (1 Corinthians ch15 v3).
Indeed when Paul first spoke to the people of Athens, he used the word “resurrection” so much that they took it to be the name of one of his
“foreign divinities” (Acts ch17 v18).
The Resurrection is also the key to the visions of Christ in Revelation.
John’s account begins on “the Lord’s day”, celebrating the day of the Resurrection, and the first image that he sees, “one like a son of
man”, identifies himself as having been raised from the dead;
“I am the first and the last and the living one; I died, and behold I am alive for evermore.”
And in that resurrection power, he can also claim “the keys of death and Hades”, offering the prospect of life, the prospect of release from
death, to the rest of us (Revelation ch1 vv17-19).
In a later scene, again, he is introduced as a lamb “who has been slain”, standing in his place in heaven (ch5 v6). That is, the image
shown is not a corpse, but a resurrected lamb.
And as the crucified and resurrected Lamb, he has the power to “open the seals” of God’s plan of salvation.
So the Christian faith does not rest on the Cross alone.
It rests on the compound event of Easter, the Cross and the Resurrection taken together.
That is why Paul says;
“If Christ has not been raised from the dead, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins…
Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians ch15 vv17-19).
In short, if Christ has not been raised from the dead, then we are all wasting our time.