Top Five Benefits of Christ's Resurrection
These aren’t all the benefits I’ve seen in the Bible. But a top five list is better than a top seven list. To the smart alec who just said to himself, “A top three list would’ve been even better!” I say, “Then just read the first three, you goomba.”
1) Jesus Is Declared to Be the Christ, the Son of God.
Romans 1:1-4: “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God...concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord..."
It's not that Jesus wasn't the Son of God prior to his resurrection, but that he was declared to be the Son of God in power when God raised him from the dead. How is this a benefit for us? It assures us of the true identity of Jesus of Nazareth. What he claimed about himself is the truth. His words are verified by all his miraculous signs--chiefly by his resurrection from the dead.
Peter can even say that by raising him from the dead, “God has made him both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). Again, it’s not that Jesus was not Lord and Christ from the beginning, but Peter emphasizes how his resurrection vindicates his identity as the Lord and Christ.
2) The Resurrection of Christ Guarantees Our Future Resurrection.
1 Corinthians 15:19-23: “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ."
Christ is the firstfruits. This means that his resurrection is the first portion of the great resurrection harvest that is yet to come. Christopher Wordsworth includes this teaching in verse three of his Easter Hymn, Alleluia, Alleluia:
Christ is risen, Christ, the firstfruits of the holy harvest field, which will all its full abundance at His second coming yield. Then the golden ears of harvest will their heads before Him wave, ripened by His glorious sunshine from the furrows of the grave.
Paul writes about this same benefit without the “firstfruits” metaphor in the following passages:
1 Thessalonians 4:13-14: “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."
2 Cor. 4:14: "Knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.”
How wonderful! Christ’s resurrection from the dead guarantees our future resurrection!
3) We Are No Longer in Our Sins.
1 Cor. 15:17: "And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.”
Romans 4:24-25: “It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification."
Ephesians 2:1-6: “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked...But God...even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ...and raised us up with him…”
In 1 Cor. 15:17, Paul implies that since Christ has been raised, your faith is not futile and you are no longer in your sins. In Romans 4:24-25 we see that the death and resurrection of Christ has resulted in the justification of those who believe in him. In Eph. 2:1-6, Paul teaches that we were once dead in our sins, but that God, out of sheer grace, has made us alive together with Christ and raised us up with him.
Jesus bore our sins, suffered God’s wrath, and died in our place. God really condemned this Man to death. But on the third day, God raised him up. By raising him, God declared his favor upon him. By raising him, God vindicated or even justified this Man (1 Tim. 3:16).
The benefit for us is that, if we are in Christ, we receive the same declaration of favor and the same justification from God. In the first Adam, we lay condemned and dead in our sins. In the second Adam, we are raised up and justified by God. Because of the death and resurrection of Christ, we who are baptized into Christ and believe in him are no longer dead in our sins; we have been raised up with him.
4) We Have Been Born Again.
1 Peter 1:3: “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...”
Romans 6:4: “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”
These verses speak of the new birth which is wrought in us through baptism, but which has its power in the resurrection of Christ. Unlike the second benefit above, this fourth benefit offers a present reality for all who are in Christ. We have been born again through the resurrection of Christ.
The same power of God that raised Jesus from the dead has now given birth to new life in us. In the new birth we are given new hearts and the gift of the Holy Spirit. The purpose of this is that we might walk in newness of life. As the Small Catechism teaches, the ongoing significance of baptism is that we might put to death the old Adam within us, together with all sins and evil lusts, and that a new man might daily rise to live before God in righteousness and holiness forever (SC, Baptism, IV).
The new birth is the death and resurrection of Christ brought to bear on our own hearts. We live this new life by the Spirit of the risen Christ within us.
5) The New Age Has Dawned.
(Note: by “The New Age” I mean the glorious, future, Day of the LORD that the prophets spoke about; the Day when God overthrows evil and establishes the New Creation. In Jesus, this Day has already come upon us...though it will be fulfilled when he comes again.)
Matthew 11:5: “The blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.”
Matthew 12:28: “...the kingdom of God has come upon you.”
1 Corinthians 10:11: “...the end of the ages has come.”
With the coming of Jesus Christ the New Age has dawned. This is made evident not only by his announcement that “The Kingdom of God is at hand,” but also by his miraculous signs which renewed portions of God’s fallen creation. These miracles are harbingers, or even firstfruits, of the New Age. They usher in, ahead of time, the New Heavens and the New Earth. The first coming of Christ brought these end-time blessings in part, but not in full. The New Age has dawned, but its fullness is yet to come.
The resurrection of Christ is the clearest sign of this. Everyone knows that the resurrection of the dead will take place on the Last Day. But, according to Paul, the resurrection of the dead has already commenced. “But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ” (1 Cor. 15:23).
In Christ, the New Age spoken of by the prophets has dawned. As we are united with Christ through baptism and faith, we too participate in the blessings of the New Age. In fact, we are part of it. Having been born again through the resurrection of Christ we become agents of the New Age, ambassadors of Christ, and a kind of firstfruits of God’s creatures. By loving our neighbors and by speaking the Gospel, we are God’s instruments to bring the blessings of the New Age to the rest of fallen creation.
Come, Lord Jesus!
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