Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. Luke 24:45-47 The first thing that follows Jesus’ resurrection, in this sentence in Luke, is repentance and forgiveness. Because sin no longer nails the coffin of the offender for eternity, repentance is possible. Because death has been swallowed up in victory, as Paul wrote, it is now a means to an end rather than the end in itself. This is so huge that I don’t really get it, which is why it doesn’t make me celebrate more. Death is no longer the end of the story, the thing to be dreaded and feared and avoided at all costs any more than a bath or a nap is really as world ending as a small child is certain it is. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. Romans 8:28-29 Even though these verses have been abused and trivialized over the years, they explain the implications of the resurrection to every single other thing in life. An argument, a season of depression, cancer, the mean ladies at the post office, a lost passport, unfinished homework, dismissal from a job, rejection from a school, a migraine headache, and all the other little tastes of death and evidences of the fall of man no longer stand as dead ends or the conclusion to the story. Panic is no longer necessary nor condemnation and judgment in the midst of these. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18 I tend to avoid conflict because I fear its judgment of me, that I will create irreparable damage or at the very least, an unnecessary mess. However, the Gospel actually invites me into redemptive conflict for the genuine restoration of both the relationship and my own self-focused, self-protective heart. Or take depression as an example of something we just want to fix quickly in others or in ourselves. The resurrection takes even that, with all its complexity, and turns it into a season of “baking” in the Gospel. God knows when we need to come out of the oven and when we need to keep baking…in whatever the external trial seems to be. But the trial itself, because of the resurrection, has been swallowed up in ultimate victory and is not indication of defeat as it otherwise would seem. If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 1 Cor. 15:13-22
Because there is resurrection, our faith is not in vain. Our faith that is not in vain tells us that we can’t “blow it” or “ruin everything” or “live to regret it” in the things that lie ahead of us because in all things (our good and bad motives, our strong wills and weak wills, our selflessness and selfishness) God is at work conforming us into the image of His Son. Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4 Because of the resurrection, wandering in the desert now has purpose. Because of the resurrection, peace can now come even through conflict. Because of the resurrection, my confidence in God’s goodness does not rest on the absence of trials but upon His presence with me in them as He moves me, like His Son, through suffering to glory. Because of the resurrection, I can trust His admonition not to fear because He will never lose me.
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.
I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Phil. 3:7-12