Why do we celebrate Resurrection Sunday? To answer this question, we need to go back to the beginning. In the first book of the Bible, Genesis, we discover that the original couple rebelled against God, and sin enters the world and humanity. Human beings had sinned. God justly demanded payment for the penalty of their sin.
Here is a problem. Human beings are unable to satisfy the just demands of God. This problem is more sobering due to this reality. God cannot overlook sin because God cannot violate His word or character. Humanly speaking, it would seem that God was confronted with an irreconcilable dilemma. How could God be true to His own character and word concerning sin and rescue His created people, guilty of sin, unable to rescue themselves?
Here is God’s solution. God solved this seemingly irreconcilable dilemma through the unique work of the unique person – Jesus Christ. What was the unique work of Jesus? Jesus came to do one work, salvation. God worked through Christ so that He could “be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Christ” (Rom 3:26).
Salvation requires divine action and human reaction. Unless Jesus was the unique person He was, He could not have done the unique work He did. God’s salvation is for all people, but it is found only in one person. Jesus Christ is salvation.
For us to truly understand the work of Christ in salvation, we need to understand His humiliation and exaltation (see: Philippians 2:5-11). Our Savior began His trek from the heights of undiminished glory of His divine identity. His descent into self-imposed humiliation began formally with the incarnation. Jesus took on flesh, that is, the flesh of our human race. He did not cease to be God but put humanity upon His divinity.
If the Second Person of the Trinity had not emptied Himself by “adding” a human nature to His divine nature, thus becoming the unique God/Man, human beings, you and I, could not have been saved. The virgin conception was apparently a theological requirement making it possible for the Messiah to be shielded from inherited sin as He entered into a sinful race of humanity. The Messiah needed to be separated from the sin of sinful humanity while still being a member of it.
We discover accounts from the life of Christ in the gospels. The gospels are not a biography of Jesus’ life but a recounting of certain historical facts about Jesus’ life in order to explain how what Jesus has done is good news for us. Jesus lived a perfect life of obedience to the will of the Father even in the face of the ignorance, scorn, and rebuke of sinful people. These people could never be saved from impending death apart from His faithful obedience to the Father. Christ’s life on earth is the perfect picture of the irony of unconditional love (see: Rom 5:8).
There is no reconciliation with God apart from the death of Christ. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:21a, “For our sake he [the Father] made him [the incarnate Son] to be sin who knew no sin [on our behalf]….” Christ’s work in taking away our sin was an exercise in simple, yet profound, exchange. God legally placed the penalty of our sin upon Jesus Christ, who willingly bore it for our sake. Catch this. Our sin cannot be at two places at the same time. Since Christ bore our sin. We, who receive Him, are free of sin (see: John 3:16). Jesus paid the penalty of our sin on the cross. In fact, Jesus stated from the cross unequivocally, “It is finished!” (Jn 19:30). The Father sent Jesus and arranged for Him to die to rescue us from eternal death (see: Rom 3:23; 6:23).
Jesus took our guilt upon Himself and thereby removed that guilt from us. Jesus also bore our shame and thereby removed sin’s shame from us. The Scripture rarely mentions the humiliation of Christ without contrasting it with His exaltation. That is because Christ’s humiliation and exaltation must be viewed together to get a well-rounded understanding of the work of Christ. I have shared a piece of 2 Cor 5:21. Let me share the whole verse, “ For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Christ took our guilt and shame “so that” unrighteous people, who need to be forgiven of sin, due to being unrighteous, in Him, are made righteous; right with God.
The resurrection inaugurated Christ’s exaltation, the second phase of Christ’s saving ministry. Jesus never anticipated His death without proclaiming His subsequent resurrection. The apostles never preached the efficacy of Christ’s death without stipulating the resurrection’s triumph. In fact, no resurrection, no gospel – no good news! The resurrection is the linchpin that secured salvation (see: 1 Cor 15). Here is the gospel truth. The resurrection of Christ indicates that God’s plan for the salvation of the human race, you and me, includes our resurrected bodies (eternal life).
We began by looking at the problem all of us face due to sin. Then, we have looked at God’s solution – Jesus Christ and His salvific work. Indeed, the salvific work of Christ offers us a life like no other – the life we have been created to experience with God.
A genuine Christian is a person who has honestly surrendered their life to Christ. They have turned away from their sin and placed their faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross and have received the gift of eternal life, God’s extravagant love. Today, these words echo as accurately as when John wrote them, “ To all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). In a genuine sense, believers have risen in Christ! Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!