Some Really Good News: The “So What” of the Resurrection
Think of the best news you have ever heard. It is not malignant! It’s a boy! It’s a girl! Will you marry me? You are receiving a 20% raise and a promotion, you got the job, you are receiving a refund, etc. We all love good news. But the ultimate good news is the historical, bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Let’s look at some of the implications of this grand truth.
The resurrection of Christ concentrates the whole of salvation into a single event that is the turning point of the ages and the center of time. Therefore not only time but life itself can never be the same. At first glance the cross proclaims the triumph of evil and lawlessness. But the resurrection and empty tomb declare forever that we are looking at the triumph of righteousness. Right does win in the end. So what is the “so what” of this glorious truth? The event has significance for the person and work of Christ and deep meaning for all who believe in Him. First, let’s look at the implications for Christ.
The resurrection is His exaltation and enthronement. He has now entered the power phase of His kingship. He has now been appointed the Son of God with power (Romans 1:4). During His sojourn on earth He was in his humiliation phase—living in apparent weakness, His glory veiled for the most part. He lived in relative obscurity and poverty and had nowhere to lay His head. Now He is the Son of God in power. The resurrection event begins His glorified life. He has now ascended and sits in session at the right hand of the Father (Matthew 28:18-20; Philippians 2:9). Paul is affirming that the One who has always been God’s Son was brought by human birth as the seed of David according to His human nature and was appointed the Son of God with power from the time of His resurrection. The dust of the earth is now on the throne of the universe. This fact is attested to by the present sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of believers. The Christ we worship is not on a cross but is alive, ruling and reigning over all things. He indwells His body the new temple, the Church and is working out all things according to the counsel of His own will.
Another implication of the bodily resurrection of Christ is the long-awaited Messianic hope is now a reality. The anticipated fulfillment of the new covenant (partial), the outpouring of the Spirit is here. Christ promised after His ascension to send His Church another Comforter. We are not orphans (John 14-16). Now the kingdom is coming in transforming power. The power of the ascended Christ now resides in His body, the Church, by the Spirit for the purpose of mission in this world.
Jesus enters as the second Adam into a new mode of existence, i.e. as the life-giving Spirit (1 Corinthians 15). The first Adam was given a living body subject to decay and death. Adam brought death and decay as the representative man for all who bear his likeness. In Adam we all die. The second (last) Adam has a spiritual body given at the resurrection. The second Adam, Christ, is not merely the representative man for all who will bear His spiritual likeness, He is the source of spiritual life. His resurrection guarantees that we will receive a new supernatural resurrection body. By rising victorious over the powers that have dominated since the fall of Adam He has triumphed over sin, death and the law.
The resurrection is not merely a great event upon the plane of history but an act that breaks into space-time history with the powers of another world. This is the onset of the new creation and the commencement of God’s eschatological goal and design for the human race. God is creating a new world. The fix is on. The transformation of all things at the end of time is already impinging upon history. The consummation of all things has already been inaugurated. The new world has perforated or broken into the old world. Our hope for the restoration of shalom has dawned.
The resurrection validates Jesus’ claims of who He is and who He said He was. Though doubts prevailed after His death on the cross, the empty tomb declares forever He is who He said He was. The evidence is unimpeachable.
So what are the implications of the resurrection of Christ for believers? There are many. Let’s look at a few. First His resurrection assures our justification (Romans 4:25). He was delivered up for our sins and raised again for our justification. Our transgressions and His forgiveness are associated with His death. Our justification is associated with His resurrection. We have solidarity with Him in condemnation and solidarity with Him in justification. God has forever declared that what the Son has done for sinners has accomplished our redemption. His resurrection proves and guarantees His righteousness and acceptance. His resurrection proves and guarantees my righteousness and acceptance if I am united to Him by faith alone. If Christ had not risen we would still be in our sins. But He is alive and we are accepted.
We are mortal and subject to death. Our immortality is due to our union with Him. The future we anticipate and will enjoy is an embodied future. Greek and pagan thought has always seen the body as the prison house of the soul. They believed that true freedom and release comes from freeing oneself from the evil body in death. Christ’s resurrection was bodily, signifying that our eternal existence will be an embodied one. We will have a new transformed glorious body forever.
We also experience resurrection now. We walk in newness of life. We have been quickened, made alive, raised up. The Church is the “avant garde” of the new creation in a hostile and dark world, creating a beachhead in this world of God’s dawning new world. We are the new creation, the new humanity united in Him. We are part of the new race, the new age, the new world order (all biblical terms) who already experience this newness as a foretaste but who will one day receive it completely.
We also know that justice will ultimately be done. It seems now that truth is forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne. But Christ’s resurrection is our ultimate hope for vindication. Right will triumph over might. The meek will inherit the earth. The new heavens and the new earth will be our home. God will dwell in our midst and shalom will prevail. We win in the end because he won at the cross and in His glorious resurrection. Hallelujah, the Lord of Glory lives and reigns!