The Risen Savior-King
The following is an enhanced transcript of the TheoTalk episode with the same title.
It was the most earth-shaking event in history, and it’s still rocking our world today.
After Jesus voluntarily went to the cross to pay the death penalty for sin, his dead body was placed in a solid rock tomb, guarded by professional soldiers who had everything to lose if they lost track of that body. Even so, on the Sunday morning following his Friday execution, the tomb of Jesus was found empty, a fact neither the Jews nor the Romans disputed. Though many have tried to explain it away, Jesus’s empty tomb was the first sign he had fulfilled his promise to rise from the dead, as all four gospel record and hundreds of eyewitnesses confirmed.
To consider more evidence for Jesus’s resurrection for the dead, See, Fire Song: Rediscovering the Ancient Melody, chapter 11. In in this lesson, we will focus on the fact of Christ’s resurrection and consider four reasons the bodily resurrection of Jesus mattered then, and still matters today.
First, the bodily resurrection of Jesus matters because it proved Jesus is who he claimed to be: the one-and-only God-man, Savior-King who repeatedly promised his disciples he would die and rise again; a promise they remembered on the Sunday following his Friday crucifixion, as recorded in Luke 24:
1 …at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared, 2 and they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. 3 But when they went in, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel … [and] said to them, 5 “why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, for he has risen. Remember how he told you while he was in Galilee 7 that the son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” 8 And they remembered his words… (Luke 24:1-8, ESV)
More specifically, they remembered this promise from Jesus, now fulfilled, confirming he was who he claimed to be.
The second reason the bodily resurrection of Jesus matters is because it was the foundation for the faith of the earliest disciples, and of Christianity itself. When Jesus was crucified, his disciples scattered in fear, thinking the Jesus movement had come to an end. But then something happened that transformed them into relentless proclaimers of Jesus who were willing to die for their faith in him.
What had happened? They claimed they had seen Jesus alive from the dead, as recorded in one of the earliest Christian creeds, written between 33 and 35 A.D. (remembering Jesus was crucified in 30 A.D.). The Apostle Paul received this creed from the Church in Jerusalem and proclaimed it in 1 Corinthians 15:4-7, ESV:
4 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, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas,, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive…7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.
A creed is a carefully formulated document that affirms well-established, already agreed upon beliefs. Since this creed was written shortly after 30 A.D., the established beliefs it was based upon, specifically the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, must go back to 30 A.D., the year of Christ’s crucifixion, confirming the rise of Christianity was based on the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
The Apostle Paul takes it a step further, saying, “If Christ has not been raised, then your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” (1 Corinthians 15:17, ESV). Paul’s words reveals a third reason the bodily resurrection of Jesus matters, because it demonstrates Christ’s sacrifice for our sins was acceptable to God the Father. This is why, having now ascended into heaven, the risen Christ stands as our advocate before the Father (1 John 2:1), ensuring sin will never again condemn, own, or control us who are his by grace through faith.
Finally, the bodily resurrection of Jesus matters because it shows Jesus really did inaugurate the new covenant renewal he promised to bring, with his resurrection being the first evidence this renewal had come. Now, because of his perfect life, sacrificial death, and resurrection from the dead, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV).
Of course the final restoration won’t come until the end of the age, when the risen Christ returns to judge the living and the dead, and create a new heavens and earth where only righteousness dwells, and we who are his will be with him forever (2 Peter 3:9-13). But, Christ’s resurrection guarantees, not only that we who are his have been given new spiritual life, but that, one day we will rise bodily from the dead as He did, to enjoy a brand new, resurrected life in his resurrected presence:
“For as in Adam, all die. So also in Christ, all shall be made alive, but each in his own order. Christ, the first fruits, then at his coming, those who belong to him.” (1 Corinthians 15:22-23, ESV)