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The Resurrection
If Jesus dealt with my sins on the cross, what is the importance of the resurrection?

If Jesus dealt with my sins on the cross, what is the importance of the resurrection?

… it is in the resurrection that Jesus obtains victory over the power of sin and death…

There is little doubt that all Christians agree that the work of Jesus on the cross plays a central and indispensable role in human salvation. Yet, Paul says “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17 NIV).  If sin is dealt with in the cross, days before the resurrection, how can this be so?

First, we have to realize that the term, “the cross,” can mean two related, though distinct things. First, “the cross” can rightly refer to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Good Friday and to that event alone. “The cross,” however, can also be a figure of speech (a metonymy) to refer not just to the crucifixion but to all of the events of Easter weekend, including Jesus’ suffering, death, burial, and resurrection. In this latter sense, it is certainly true that it is in the cross of Jesus Christ, and in the cross alone, that salvation may be found. The saving work of Jesus Christ, while inseparably tied to the crucifixion, entails more than just the crucifixion and, certainly, as Paul notes, necessarily includes the resurrection (see 1 Corinthians 15:12-19).

So, why did Paul believe that the resurrection of Jesus Christ, itself, was so important to the Christian faith?  There are a number of reasons.

First, it is in the resurrection that we find God’s vindication and endorsement of the whole of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Scripture assumes that resurrection is possible only by the power of God (see Romans 6:4; Ephesians 1:20; John 10:18).  Furthermore, resurrection is seen as an act of validation. That is, in raising someone from the dead God is understood to be approving the whole of their lives, in word and deed. God could not resurrect someone whose message and actions He did not fully endorse. Therefore, in the resurrection of Jesus, we have God’s validation and vindication of His ministry, in all that He said and in all that He did. Therefore, we can take confidence not only in Jesus’ teaching and example, but that His interpretation of various events, including His own death and resurrection, are accurate.

Second, God’s resurrection of Jesus confirms the value and effectiveness of His atoning death. As resurrection is a vindication of Jesus’ message and ministry, it is also a ratification of His atoning work. It says that the requirements of God have been met fully and finally in Him. He is not held in the grave to continue making atonement. It is complete. Resurrection, therefore, gives confidence to those who place their faith in Jesus Christ that their obligations have been met completely in Him.

Third, it is in the resurrection that Jesus obtains victory over the power of sin and death and, consequently, shares that with those who are His by His Spirit (see Acts 2:24; 1 Corinthians 15:54-57).  In the cross He succumbs to death but it is in the resurrection that He decisively and finally overcomes it. Death is unable to hold Him. It is in the resurrection that Jesus conquers the powers of sin and death. He brings about the death of Death. Therefore, those who are found in Him no longer need to fear death as they once would.  They can, instead, mock it (see 1 Corinthians 15:54).

Finally, it is in the resurrection that the full truth about Jesus is made known. It is in the resurrection and in His conquering of death that God has revealed Him to be Lord (see Acts 17:31; Romans 1:4).  While His teaching, preaching, and miracles of healing hinted strongly at His identity, it is the majesty of His resurrection, and also His ascension, that removes any shadow of doubt.  He is the Son of God (see Romans 1:4). It is because of the magnificence of the resurrection that the greeting of the early Church was “Jesus is Lord!”




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