This is not an April Fool’s Joke. I’m serious. We can never thank God enough for the cross, but the cross itself is not enough. We can’t be saved without the resurrection.
I used to think the resurrection was simply proof that the cross took. I was saved by Jesus’ death on the cross. The resurrection was merely a fantastic miracle that proved it was true. The resurrection provided assurance that I was saved, but it wasn’t actually necessary to be saved. That’s not what the Bible says.
Paul says Jesus “was raised to life for our justification” (Romans 4:25), and “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17). Paul dismisses the common notion that the cross defeats sin and the resurrection defeats death. He says the resurrection is also necessary to get rid of sin.
I explain why in The Last Enemy, p. 84-85:
“On the cross Jesus bore the penalty of our sin and death. Paul explains that “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). God punished Jesus on the cross, and if the story ends there, Jesus remains punished with us. He continues to bear the penalty of our sin. He remains guilty, and so are we. And if we remain in our sin, we will remain in our graves.
The resurrection is the Father’s glorious vindication of His beloved Son. On Easter morning, the Father reversed His verdict, announcing to the world that he accepted Jesus’ sacrifice and released him from the guilt and punishment of our sin. Since the punishment of sin is death, God raised his exonerated Son “from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him” (Ac. 2:24).
What is true about Jesus is also true about all who identify with Him. Jesus died as our substitute—instead of us; but He rose as our representative—with us. Jesus died in our place, so we won’t pay for sin. He rose to establish our place, so we will live again. Our sin was buried with Jesus and left behind when the Father raised Him from the grave. Now we who put our faith in Jesus are counted righteous with Him, so that “just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Rom. 6:4).
This new life is so much more than an ethereal, partial existence where we learn to make do without our bodies, for it is nothing less than the restoration of God’s originally good creation. The resurrection is more than a guarantee of life after death; it is the recovery of the life we enjoyed before our death, with all of its evil removed. We may still die, but Jesus’ resurrection means death is no longer a dead end. There is life after death, and it’s here, where we will live forever with Jesus as whole people on God’s New Earth.
Easter morning is the sunrise on a whole new world. Jesus came back from the dead, and if you repent of your sin and believe in Him, so will you.”
Photo by Pict-your. Used by permission. Sourced via Flickr.