Raised to Lifecomment (0)
April 5, 2012
By Bob Terry
Romans 4:25 declares that Jesus “was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” Here the apostle Paul linked Jesus’ death and resurrection in one great event. The penalty for sin was paid. Death was defeated. Hope for eternity became a reality, not just for the risen Lord “but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness — for us who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead” (v. 24).
Salvation is never the result of something humanity earns. It is always the result of being united with Christ through personal faith in Him as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
Jesus was no helpless sheep as the events celebrated at Easter time unfolded. Hebrews 7:27 makes plain that “He sacrificed for their sins once for all when He offered Himself.” Jesus was at one time both the Lamb being sacrificed — “He offered Himself” — and the High Priest offering the sacrifice of atonement. That is why the writer of Hebrews referred to Jesus as “the Great High Priest.”
The imagery is of Jesus entering God’s presence with the blood offering of the sacrificial lamb to be poured out on the altar. As such, He was the Great High Priest, representing all people in all places for all times.
But unlike the high priest who tended the Temple year after year, Jesus carried a cup with His own blood into God’s presence. It was a moment in time that will never be repeated. Hebrews 9:25–26 declares, “Nor did He enter heaven to offer Himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”
The mystery surrounding the biblical teaching “that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” remains (Heb. 9:22). What is clear is that Jesus died “to take away the sins” of those who identify with Him through personal faith (Heb. 9:28). What is clear is that Jesus’ sacrifice of Himself established a new covenant “now that He has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant” (Heb. 9:15).
What is clear is that death was conquered. Again the writer of Hebrews instructs, “Since the children have flesh and blood, He, too, shared in their humanity so that by His death, He might destroy him who holds the power of death — that is, the devil — and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” (Heb. 2:14–15).
Jesus “was delivered over to death for our sins.” He also “was raised to life for our justification.”
The resurrection was an act of the Father. The resurrection was a vindication of Jesus that He was who He claimed to be: Son of God, Messiah. He was Israel’s hope and through God’s chosen people, He was the hope of all peoples.
The Gospels affirm the historicity of the resurrection. The apostle Peter, preaching at Pentecost, declared, “God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact” (Acts 2:32). Paul, writing to the Corinthians, said, “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3–4). He then listed Jesus’ appearances, including his own encounter.
These eyewitnesses knew the reality of what Peter preached: “God raised Him from the dead, freeing Him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him” (Acts 2:24).
The resurrection was more than vindication. It was God’s way of undoing all the evil sinful human beings — emboldened by Satan — sought to accomplish by putting Jesus to death. One scholar noted that the resurrection nullified all the fearful aspects of death and its effects.
Paul declared, “But in fact, Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor. 15:20). Just as Jesus placed His confidence in the Father, so all who are identified with Christ through faith place their confidence in the Father that as Jesus was raised, so shall they be raised (1 Cor. 15:23). Those who believe in Jesus “are of Christ and Christ is of God” (1 Cor. 3:23).
That is why death has no ultimate victory for the Christian, why the grave has no eternal sting.
The resurrected Jesus “ascended into heaven,” Peter declared in his Pentecost sermon. The writer of Hebrews repeatedly teaches that Jesus sits at God’s right hand. “But when this priest (Jesus) had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God” (Heb. 10:12).
Paul added, “Christ Jesus, who died — more than that, who was raised to life — is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us” (Rom. 8:34).
By the Father’s side, the Son continues His role as High Priest, pleading in behalf of all who identify with Him through belief and confession. The Great High Priest, the risen Savior, the Hope of the World will be revealed in glory and present those who have trusted in Him to the Father for ever and ever.
Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again. All who believe will be raised to life eternal because of Him. That is the promise of Easter.