To Achieve his own Resurrection
"Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will."
These Sunday evenings we are taking some time to look more closely than we usually do into the whole matter of Jesus' death. More specifically we are considering some of the different reasons just why Jesus died. We are not to imagine that the different reasons are mutually exclusive and so we don't have to decide which reason is right and so reject all the others as being wrong. No, the death of Christ is so important in the Bible that that are many reasons why he had to die and they are compatible and harmonious.
This evening we are going to focus our thoughts on the relation that exists between the death of Jesus Christ and his subsequent resurrection three days later.
The Importance of the resurrection
We are, perhaps, simply used to thinking about the resurrection as following chronologically the death of the Saviour. And yes, Jesus did die on a Friday and rose from the dead the following Sunday, three days later. Rising early that Sunday morning Jesus then began to make the first of his numerous appearances to his followers which would continue for a period of some forty days before he ascended to heaven:
Acts 1:3 "To (the apostles) he presented himself alive after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God."
It is vitally important that we never forget these facts: Jesus died and his death was quickly followed by his resurrection. These are facts, real historical facts – they were events that really did occur. Just as our Lord's death was a real, bloody, physical death so it was followed by a literal, physical resurrection. The same man who had expired on Calvary's middle cross on Good Friday was alive and well again on that Easter resurrection morning – so well in fact that he would never ever die again.
But not only must we remember the facts concerning Jesus' death and resurrection we must also realise that without a corresponding real physical resurrection his death would be meaningless. Indeed we can only make proper sense of Jesus' death in the light of his resurrection:
We are used to thinking that the fact that Jesus died for us sinners is good news but it only is so because the resurrection followed -
The resurrection then is vital if we are to be saved but we are not saved by the resurrection. It was not by means of the resurrection that the price was paid for our sins. Why then is the resurrection seen to be so important in the Bible, what does it do?
Here is the answer: the resurrection is important because it proves that the death of Jesus was and is an all-
The importance of the resurrection is further underlined by the fact that the Bible actually tells us that died Jesus died in order to achieve his own resurrection! It tells us that he died with a view to being raised from the dead, that he died with a view to the sin-
Listen to what Jesus himself had to say about this:
"I lay down my life that I may take it up again"
Jesus did not die hopelessly – he knew that his death would be followed by his resurrection. In dying Jesus did pay the price of our sin, bearing in his own body on the tree the wrath of God. In dying as a voluntary substitutionary sacrifice he pleased his Father. It was then with great purpose that Jesus died and that purpose included his resurrection – he died in order that he might take his life up again.
Among the different authors of the NT the author of the letter to the Hebrews adds something unique to our understanding of Jesus with regard to his sufferings and death. He it is who tells about the attitude that dominated our Lord as he went through his sufferings and as he faced that awful death:
Heb.12:2 "Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."
This reference to the joy which characterised Jesus at this special moment of time is one more clear indication that Jesus did not see his sacrificial death as an end in itself.
Jesus' resurrection was no mere afterthought – he died with this and some other matters clearly in view; his resurrection would bring other fruit in its wake
We sometimes talk about the death of some people who die when they are in real pain and say that their death was a happy release for them. When we do that we're looking backwards rather than forwards – death as an end to pain. But Jesus' death was not like that at all. He was looking forward and it was precisely because he knew that his death would be neither meaningless nor unfruitful that Jesus was willing to give his life and to do so joyfully.
The joy that Jesus anticipated as his death approached included the following:
1. that he might rise.
2. that he might ascend.
3. that he might send the Holy Spirit.
4. that others might live.
That such fruit should come from such an apparently bleak set of circumstances is altogether in line with what Jesus had earlier taught his disciples when he told them:
Jn.12:24 "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit."
More from Hebrews
Let's think for a few moments about something else that the author of the letter to the Hebrews wrote:
The death of Christ did not merely precede his resurrection—it was the price that obtained it. When the Bible speaks if the blood of Jesus, it refers to his death. It was not sufficient that Jesus should simply suffer and bleed; for salvation to be secured Jesus had to bleed and die. And so Jesus shed his blood and died -
Now what is the relationship between this shedding of Jesus’ blood and the resurrection?
The Bible says the Jesus was raised not just after the blood-
The wrath of God was satisfied with the suffering and death of Jesus. The holy curse against sin was fully absorbed. The obe of Christ was completed to the fullest measure. The price of forgiveness was totally paid. The righteousness of God was completely vindicated. All that was left to accomplish was the public declaration of God’s endorsement. This he gave by raising Jesus from the dead.
We should not then think that the resurrection somehow simply annuls the death of Christ by overturning it and restoring Jesus to life. No the resurrection is the way in which God vindicated all that the Son had said and done.
John Calvin put it like this: "God raised up his own son… in such a way that the blood he shed once for all in his death is efficacious after his resurrection for the ratification of the everlasting covenant, and brings forth fruit the same as though it were flowing always."
This is the glorious message of the Bible and of the NT in particular:
The success of Jesus suffering and death has been vindicated. And if we put our trust in Christ, we are not still in our sins. For “by the blood of the eternal covenant,” the Great Shepherd has been raised and lives forever!