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Archive for The Resurrection

Why did Jesus rise from the dead? So that we would trust scripture

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,
1 Cor 15:3-4

The idea that a messiah would come, die and rise from death is so improbable that any rational person would dismiss the idea as preposterous. Or at least they would have done before 33 AD. Yet this most outrageous claim is exactly the claim that was being made by the bible - as Peter points out in Acts 2:25-26, when he quotes and expounds Psalm 16. A mere 50 days earlier, Peter had no expectation of Jesus' resurrection. On Good Friday, it seemed irrational, and on easter morning, the empty tomb was inexplicable. Yet as he re-reads scripture in light of the resurrection, he sees it as inevitable - he declares that any other outcome was impossible.

It is this same point that Paul emphasises as he writes to the christians in Corinth: Jesus rose from death exactly as scripture prophesied he would. And Jesus rose from death demonstrating that scripture is a more reliable guide to reality than human expectation or reason.

Jesus rose from death so that we would trust scripture more than we trust ourselves.

Why did Jesus rise from the dead? So our grief would only be temporary

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.
1 Thess 4:13-14

Our hope of seeing loved ones who have died is predicated on the knowledge of Jesus' resurrection: our hope of resurrection is based on our belief that Jesus died and rose again. Or, in other words, when a fellow christian dies we view it as a temporary separation because that's what happened with Jesus....

It is clear, however, in the wording "even so, through Jesus" that it is only through identification with Jesus that this will happen. There is no hope of resurrection apart from Jesus - he is not merely the proof (or example) that resurrection is possible - he is the author (ie. the basis) of the resurrection.

(The temporary nature of grief and suffering is underlined in Rev 21:4, which declares that the day will come when "death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore")

Why did Jesus rise from the dead? To change everything

4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures
20But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
1 Corinthians 15:4,20

If Jesus is alive, the assumptions we have made about the permanence of death are wrong. Our assumptions about the mystery of death are wrong. Our expectations about the inevitability of death are wrong.

The prediction, and subsequent realisation, of the resurrection changes everything - it means that death can be temporary, it can be contemplated with confidence and it is no longer inevitable. If the bible could predict, if Jesus could know for certain, then we must allow our view of life & death to be radically realigned to accommodate for the resurrection not merely as a historically affirmed event, but as the dawning of a new age in which there is a power greater than death: An age in which formerly terrifying "certainties" and fears appear as mere shadows. An age in which Jesus is not the end, but the firstfruits of those whom death can no longer hold.

Why did Jesus rise from the dead? To give us a hope

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
1 Peter 1:3

Jesus rose from death, so that we could have hope. Not a dead hope, a dead Christ, a dead vision of the future - but a living hope in a risen Christ of a glorious future. A hope that won't disappoint or let us down.

We only have this hope because Jesus is alive!

(In context, the point Peter makes is actually more subtle. He's saying that God, in his mercy, has caused us to be born again - given a new spiritual nature/identity - and our hope is a part of the fruit of that new birth.)

Why did Jesus rise from the dead? For our justification

... Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.
Romans 4:24b-25

Jesus resurrection shows that, in the words of the old hymn, "Jesus paid it all." In dying on the cross, Jesus paid the penalty for our sin; in rising from death he demonstrated that every charge laid against us had been answered and paid in full.

Had Jesus not risen, we would have no way of knowing for sure that we had been justified. Jesus, in rising from death, demonstrated that our justification is complete. Accomplished. We are righteous in God's eyes - and this is self-evidently by grace alone. There is no sense in which we contributed to or enabled the resurrection: yet Jesus rose in order that we might be made righteous; in order that God might be the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus (Rom 3:26).

All of which should leave us singing: "Soli Deo Gloria" - To God alone be glory!

Why did Jesus rise from the dead? To conquer death

I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. -- Revelation 1:17b-18

On the cross, Jesus suffered for our sin and removed the claim that death had over us - for "the wages of sin is death" (Rom 6:23). But in his bodily resurrection, he destroyed the power of death. He took away the keys: Jesus owned death.

Why did Jesus rise from the dead? To ascend to His Father

According to the Venerable Bede, Easter comes from the name Eostre - an Anglo-Saxon pagan goddess. Yet this once worshipped "deity" has been entirely obliterated by the worship of Jesus & the celebration of his resurrection - it has been thoroughly redeemed. But what is it that we celebrate? And why?

Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.' -- John 20:27

Here Jesus gives one reason for His resurrection: to ascend to God the Father. Jesus was raised from the dead in order to restore his fellowship with the Father.

On the cross, Jesus emitted a heart-searing cry that Matthew & Mark record in the original Aramaic - "Eloi, eloi, lama sabachthani" (My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?) - a cry expressing the anguish of separation from the father as he suffered for our sin. And when Jesus was raised from the dead, having suffered once for all for our sins (Heb 9:26), he was raised in order to restore the relationship that was set aside when he was forsaken as he suffered in our place.

Why does this matter? Because this relationship is the fundamental model for all others. The Father loves the Son (John 3:35) and unless the Jesus was "unforsaken" there is no hope for us - because John 15:9 tells us that Jesus loves us in the same way in which the Father loves Jesus. An unrestored relationship between Jesus and the Father would mean no hope for our relationship with Jesus.

Jesus was raised from the dead in order to ascend to the Father in order that we might look forward to an eternal, unbroken relationship with Jesus.