The Resurrection of the Lord Jesus
All Christians are agreed that the death of Christ is the basis of all our blessings. Of this there can be no doubt, for "without shedding of blood is no remission." Without the death of Christ we could never be with Him — "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone." He could not then, but in virtue of the death of the cross, have us in glory with Him. But, while all our present and eternal blessings are founded on the death and blood-shedding of Jesus the Son of God, scripture points us again and again to Christ risen and ascended, as the One in whom we stand, and are fully blessed and accepted.
1st, That the resurrection of Christ is the divine demonstration of the person of the Son of God, the foundation truth of Christianity; for "he was declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by resurrection from the dead." (Romans 1:4.) It also confirmed the truth of His own testimony to His personal glory, when He said, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. But he spoke of the temple of his body. When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them." (John 2:19-22.) The apostle Paul also quoted Psalm 2 to show that it was the person of the Son of God that was raised again from the dead. He said, "God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again, as it is written in Psalm 2, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee." (Acts 8:33)
2nd, The resurrection of the Lord Jesus overcame death, and showed that though He died for the ungodly as an offering for sin, yet having laid down His life and lain in the sepulchre till the third day (thus showing the reality of His death), it could detain Him no longer. "It was not possible that he should be held by death," for He was "the life," "the Prince of life," and "he saw no corruption." That great and terrible foe, which we have because we are sinners, Christ triumphed over in His resurrection from the dead. It is because of this that it is not now absolutely necessary that we shall die. Instead of this, we are told that "we shall not all sleep," but some of us will be "alive and remain to the coming of the Lord," and then, instead of dying, we shall be changed in a moment, our mortal bodies will put on immortality, and we shall be for ever like the Lord and with the Lord. Thus the Lord vanquished death in His resurrection from among the dead.
3rd, He triumphed over the grave. Covered as the mouth of the sepulchre was with a great stone, and a seal set upon it, guarded too with soldiers, all could not prevent the Son of God rising out of it. And be it observed that this the greatest victory over obtained was wrought noiselessly. No flourish of trumpets announced this wondrous triumph. The sepulchre was left in perfect order, the linen clothes carefully put by, and the napkin that was about His head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. The whole scene tells us of the most perfect order and quiet. Had He still been in the sepulchre, the grave would have obtained a victory over Him. But, blessed be God, it was not so; and now looking at the triumphant risen One, we can truthfully say, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" And know that all this victory is ours, by God's free gift in the depth of His abounding mercy; so that we can also say, "but thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
4th, Christ defeated Satan. Satan no doubt thought when Christ was nailed to the cross, and the power of death let loose upon Him, so that He bowed His sacred head in death, and gave up the ghost, that the Lord was then made an end of and got rid of. And to the eyes of those who had said, "not this man, but Barabbas," it so appeared. Such however was not the fact. Instead of Satan, who had the power of death, triumphing over Jesus, Jesus triumphed over him. He rose victoriously out of death, and not only destroyed death, but him that had the power of death, that is, the devil. The blessed Son of God thus raised from the dead spoiled principalities and authorities, made a show of them publicly, leading them in triumph by it. He led captivity captive, ascended into glory, received gifts for men, and is henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool.
5th, The resurrection of the Lord Jesus is also God's public attestation to His finished work upon the tree. If in the cry "It is finished," it is implied that every thing had been then accomplished according to the purpose and grace of God, every type fulfilled, every scripture obeyed, all the stern demands of justice satisfied, righteously established, and all the claims of holiness met, so that nothing more remained to be done, all was fully responded to by God in raising Him from the dead. If it had been possible that one sin which He bore had been unjudged, He could not have been raised from the dead by the glory of the Father. But now we do see Him crowned with glory and honour who had been numbered with the transgressors and forsaken by God. We now behold Him righteously welcomed to the place of highest exaltation, instead of being abandoned in unsparing wrath because our sins were upon Him. Thus His being raised from the dead by the glory of the Father is the best possible proof that in bearing our sins He had perfectly satisfied God. He was "obedient unto death, even the death of the cross; wherefore God hath highly exalted him." The resurrection of Christ therefore is the undeniable proof of His finished work, that sin had been fully judged, and God glorified.
6th, Christ having triumphed over death, and gone up the path of life, He has made a new and living way for us. When He poured out His soul unto death upon the cross, we are told that "the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom." Thus a new and living way was consecrated for us through the veil, that is to say, His flesh. But, after this, He rose from the dead and entered into heaven itself by His own blood. He rose from the dead as the "firstfruits" because others are to rise from among the dead; and He went into heaven as the forerunner, because other runners are to follow. What never-ending blessedness God has given us in a risen victorious Saviour!
7th, In Christ risen, we see Him who was dead alive again and that for evermore, and know that God has, in the riches of His grace, given us life in Him. "God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son" — a new life surely, risen life, life in One who is beyond death, the mighty conqueror of Satan, death, and the grave. He who is now in the very glory of God is then our life. Hence we are spoken of as "risen with Christ," having been quickened together, raised up together, and made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. What a marvellous blessing to be thus associated in life with One who has risen triumphantly out of death, and sat down on the right hand of God! What liberty as well as gladness it gives us! How natural therefore it is because of this, that we should be enjoined to seek the things which are above where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God, to set our mind on things above, and not on things on the earth.
Like us they are looking forward to His coming, when He, who rose so victoriously over death, will apply His resurrection power to our bodies, and then all who are in Christ, whether dead in Christ or alive and remain, will be brought together in resurrection-life and glory to be "for ever with the Lord."