I have a question for you and my question is very simple. Which is more important: the death of Christ, or the resurrection of Christ? In the early years of my Christian life, I thought occasionally about the death of Christ. My parents told me about the death of Christ and the preacher talked about the death of Christ, that He died on a cross so that I could have my sins forgiven. I was taught that I was a sinner and was headed for hell unless I put my faith in Jesus Christ and repented of my sin. And when it came to the resurrection, it was not that important. Then finally one day I started asking myself, “What is important about the resurrection?” We tend to focus on the death of Christ, that He shed His blood, and because He died we can have our sins forgiven. Finally one day I asked myself, “Why is the resurrection so important?” I was listening to a pastor and he quoted 1 Corinthians 15:17-18 and stated that if Christ is not risen, then our faith is in vain. Now I was interested!
If Christ Is Not Raised We Are To Be Pitied
I want you to see what he read. As soon as I saw that passage I realized that the resurrection was as important as His death. One was not more important than the other. Without both of them, we are headed for an eternal hell. We are lost because 1 Corinthians 15:17-19 says,
And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. 1 Corinthians 15:17-19 (NASB)
The message is very simple. If Christ is not risen, then our faith is worthless and we are still in our sin. The message is that the death of Christ is important, and the resurrection of Christ is equally important. The resurrection authenticates that His death was satisfactory for the forgiveness of our sins, that it was sufficient for the forgiveness of our sins, that is, it satisfied the Father’s wrath.
First Benefit of the Resurrection
This study is about four benefits of the resurrection. Since Christ came back to life, there is a benefit that authenticates His death. What is the benefit of Christ’s resurrection? It is a deeper statement than what I have made so far. What are the four benefits of the resurrection? The first benefit is that the resurrection affirms the truthfulness of God. It affirms what we have already been taught in the Old and New Testaments. For example, the gospels tell us that during Christ’s early ministry, Jesus told the religious leaders, His disciples, and those who were listening to Him that if the temple were destroyed He would rebuild it in three days (John 2:19-22). At least that is what the religious leaders thought. But Christ was actually referring to His own body. So Jesus made the point that if His body was killed, three days later He would come back to life, and they thought He was talking about the temple. Therefore, they ridiculed Him. When Christ made this statement, He made a prophecy.
Later on, in Matthew 12:38-40, Jesus once again was talking to the scribes and the Pharisees and said,
Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.” But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; for just as JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA MONSTER, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Matthew 12:38-40 (NASB)
Do you understand what Jesus was doing? Jesus was telling the religious leaders that He was going to die, and be in the grave for three days and three nights. It was a prophecy. Jesus was talking about what was going to happen to Him. It was also a promise! It was a promise to everyone who was listening. If we continued reading the gospels, we would find out that Jesus repeatedly kept talking about the fact that He was going to die and come back to life. Jesus connected His death to His resurrection. I had never seen that before. I had only focused on the death of Christ, and His atonement for us. I never had understood how important the resurrection was. It was as important as His death.
When we come to Matthew 20:19, Jesus makes it very clear what He is talking about. Before He spoke in figures of speech but when you come to Matthew 20:19 He is very clear. He said,
And will hand Him over to the Gentiles to mock and scourge and crucify Him, and on the third day He will be raised up. Matthew 20:19 (NASB)
Notice that Jesus states they are going to crucify Him, and then said, “And on the third day He will be raised up.” Jesus, one more time, connects the death to His resurrection.
In John 20:1 we find that is exactly what happened. He died and He came back to life.
Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb. So she ran and came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved . . . John 20:1-2a (NASB)
The other disciple in this verse is John.
. . . and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” So Peter and the other disciple went forth, and they were going to the tomb. The two were running together; and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter and came to the tomb first; and stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings lying there; but he did not go in. John 20:1-2a-5 (NASB)
In other words, all there was in that tomb were linen wrappings. There was no body. There were just linen wrappings and verse 6-10 adds,
And so Simon Peter also came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the face-cloth which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb then also entered, and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. So the disciples went away again to their own homes. John 20:6-10 (NASB)
I have always been amazed that the disciples had heard again and again from Christ that He was going to come back to life after He died. But the disciples did not believe Him. The disciples did not understand it. They did not believe. Verse 9 confirms this with, “For as yet, they did not understand that He must rise again from the dead.” Jesus had died. Jesus had come back to life but the disciples were not expecting that. What did they miss? It is as if they had never heard and understood. Today there are many people who have not heard. There are people today who do not understand. They are like the disciples. Then verse 10 says the disciples returned home. That is, why should they remain at the tomb if the body was not there? It is amazing!
Later on in Luke 24 we read that Jesus said this:
Oh foolish men …
He was talking to his disciples.
O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory? Luke 24:25-26 (NASB)
Do you see that once again, Jesus connects His death to His resurrection. He said, “suffer these things” and then “enter into His glory.” One more time He connected His death and resurrection together. Jesus kept doing this again, and again, and again. And I cannot tell you how many times I read the gospels as a young person but I missed the story! I never saw that Jesus connected His death and resurrection, repeatedly. It is really exciting to grasp what He was saying! The disciples did not grasp it. They did not understand. Finally they did. We see this in Acts 2:22 when Peter is preaching on the Day of Pentecost,
Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know — this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God . . . Acts 2:22-23a (NASB)
Peter preached that God had planned everything. It is a simple statement. God had already planned it.
. . . you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. Acts 2:23b (NASB)
Now read verse 24 again. Peter finally understands the gospel. Peter understands that the death of Christ was and is essential for the forgiveness of our sins, but equally important is the resurrection. In verse 24, he adds,
But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power. Acts 2:24 (NASB)
Whose power was Peter referring to? The power of death! And then he goes on, verse 25-27,
“For David says of Him, ‘I SAW THE LORD ALWAYS IN MY PRESENCE; FOR HE IS AT MY RIGHT HAND, SO THAT I WILL NOT BE SHAKEN. ‘THEREFORE MY HEART WAS GLAD AND MY TONGUE EXULTED; MOREOVER MY FLESH ALSO WILL LIVE IN HOPE; BECAUSE YOU WILL NOT ABANDON MY SOUL TO HADES, nor allow your Holy One to undergo decay.’” Acts 2:25-27 (NASB)
Peter says that Christ died on a cross and then God raised Him from the dead. The proof that actually happened is that he quoted David, “and you will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor allow your Holy One to undergo decay.” It was a prophecy.
Did you know that there is an Old Testament prophecy that said Jesus would come back to life? This is one. Then Peter goes on in verse 29 and said,
Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Acts 2:29 (NASB)
In other words, the message is that David died and did not come back to life. That is the message. Verse 30,
And so, because he was a prophet and knew that GOD HAD SWORN TO HIM WITH AN OATH TO SEAT one OF HIS DESCENDANTS ON HIS THRONE, he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that HE WAS NEITHER ABANDONED TO HADES, NOR DID His flesh SUFFER DECAY. This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. Acts 2:30-32 (NASB)
Do you know what Peter did? Peter quoted the prophecy that Christ would come back to life, and then he connected it to Jesus Christ. Next, he added that they were all witnesses. I want you to notice verse 24 again. It reads, “Who raised Jesus from the dead?” God raised Him! What we are going to find in a little bit is that Jesus claimed He raised Himself from the dead. If you were to go to Romans 8:11 you would find that the Holy Spirit raised Jesus from the dead. The Trinity raised Christ from the dead.
The message of Scripture is that Jesus came back to life—not His spirit, His body. He ended up with an immortal body. Watch this: the Old Testament and the New Testament promised that the Messiah would be resurrected, that our Savior would be resurrected. The truthfulness of scripture, the truthfulness of God hangs on the resurrection. If Christ is not resurrected, then God is a liar. God does not keep His promises. One of the benefits of the resurrection is that it affirms the truthfulness, the integrity of God and the Scriptures.
Second Benefit of the Resurrection
The second benefit of the resurrection is found in Romans 1:3. Romans 1:3-4 gives us the next benefit.
. . . who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 1:3-4 (NASB)
The verse says that He is declared to be the Son of God by the resurrection. Now, it is important to see that. In other words, the resurrection authenticates or proves that He is the Son of God. The Greek word that is translated here as “declared” is horizo and it can also mean “determined” or “appointed.” The literal meaning is that it is a boundary. So it is like putting a boundary around Christ, singling Him out, He is special. He is the Son of God! The resurrection points to the fact that Christ is the Son of God. It affirms that He is the Son of God.
Luke 1:35 tells us that Gabriel came to Mary and announced that she was going to have a child. Then she was told that the child would be called the Son of God. It is like a title, but it is more than just a title. In John 10:33 and 36 we find that Jesus actually tells us that the term Son of God means that He is God. So the scriptures actually define the term for us. We do not have to wonder or guess about the meaning of the expression Son of God. It means that Jesus is God. Throughout His ministry He kept making statements that He is God. In John 8:24 He said “I AM.” He repeats it some verses later in verse 58. He makes the statement that He is the Great I AM. Again, another declaration that He is God.
If we were to go look at John 5:18, you will find that the Jews understood. In John 19:33 the Jews understood that He was claiming to be God. I usually do not like to pass up these verses without making the comment at the people who say, “Well, I read the New Testament. I have read the Gospels, and nowhere does Christ ever claim that He was God.” All I can say is that they did not read the Bible very carefully because Jesus again and again claims that He is God.
Let’s examine John 10 closely and notice what Jesus says about Himself. The verse reads,
For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. John 10:17-18a (NASB)
Now what did Jesus just say? Jesus just said, “I lay down my life, that I may take it up again.” This passage is about the Good Shepherd and four times He makes the statement that He is going to lay His life down and then in this verse He makes the point He is going to take it back. Look at verse 18:
And no one has taken it away from me, but I do it on my . . . John 10:18a (NASB)
Why did He do this? Was it because He was was forced to? Did He say that I do it because somebody motivated me to do that? No! He said He did it “on my own initiative.” He wanted to! His next comment is incredible.
. . . I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. John 10:18b (NASB)
Do you react to His statement like I react? “I have authority to take it up again.” In other words, He died, and while dead He took it back? Now how do you do that?! If you or I are dead, we are not in a position to take our life back, but God is. This is a claim to being God. This is a claim of deity. “I have authority to take it up again.” In other words, He will die, and He is going to bring himself back to life. Remember I made the comment earlier that the Father raised Him up and the Holy Spirit raised Him up? Well, here is a statement that Jesus said He will raise Himself up. Watch this: the second benefit of the resurrection is it proves, it affirms, that Jesus is God.
Third Benefit of the Resurrection
The third benefit of the resurrection is that it proves Jesus was the sinless sacrifice which satisfied the Father’s wrath, and as a result, we can be declared holy. Now you might say, “Where do you get all that?!” The answer is found in Romans 4:5 and the verse gives us the third benefit of the resurrection.
He who was delivered over . . . Romans 4:5a (NASB)
This is referring to His death.
… because of our transgressions … Romans 4:5b (NASB)
That is, because of our sins.
… and was raised… Romans 4:5c (NASB)
There is the resurrection. There is Jesus’ death and resurrection again.
… because of our justification. Romans 4:5d (NASB)
Now that statement is important. The word justification means to be declared righteous. Did you know that before you came to Jesus Christ you were headed to hell?
Matthew 19 gives us an account of a rich young ruler who came to Jesus. We are told in this passage that the man tells Christ he wants to have eternal life, and so he asks Christ, “What do I have to do to get eternal life?” Here is what the man said starting in verse 16.
And someone came to Him and said, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?” And He said to him, “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good . . .” Matthew 17:16 (NASB)
What did Jesus tell this rich young ruler? “There is only One that is good.” And who is good? God! Do you know what that means? None of us are good. None of us were good before we came to Jesus Christ, and the only sense in which we can be good in any sense is we have been declared to be righteous. Watch this: Jesus’ resurrection proves that you and I can be justified, that we can have our sins forgiven. The resurrection proves that His death accomplished what it was supposed to accomplish.
Now I want to quickly walk through eight benefits of what Christ has accomplished for us. The first benefit of Christ’s death and resurrection is that we can be declared holy or righteous. That means when God looks at us, He sees Christ, He sees the shed blood of Christ, and so we appear to be holy before God, but in reality we are not. What I want you to see is that we are declared to be righteous, positionally. Look at John 11:25. You will love this verse. Jesus is talking with Martha, and He tells her,
I am the resurrection and the … life . . . John 11:25 (NASB)
Isn’t that great?! Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life.” He is the resurrection, He came back to life, and He gives life, and He is life. So those of us who put their faith in Jesus Christ have eternal life. Have you ever done that? Have you ever put your faith in Jesus Christ and repented of your sin? If you have, you are called a child of God, you are called a child of the light. Scripture tells us that you are a new creature. You have been adopted as a sons, and have eternal life. In John 3:16 Jesus says,
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever . . . John 3:16a (NASB)
The first promise in this verse is that you will not perish. The second promise is that you have eternal life. And when He says “have eternal life,” He does not mean “in the future.” He says “you have eternal life.” That means eternal life started at the moment that you put your faith in Christ.
The second blessing is that we have abundant life. In John 10:9, Jesus talks about the fact that He is a door, and He makes the point, “If anyone enters through me”—that is, you are walking through this door—“you will be saved, and enter into the pasture.” Then in the very next verse He says, “You will have abundant life.” So not only do you have eternal life, but you have life right now, it is the abundant life. So the second blessing that you receive is that you have life abundantly.
As I was thinking about that, I couldn’t help but think about my daughter and her husband. This last year they were contemplating adopting a child. The child is in a foreign country. They were going through all the procedures to adopt this child. Unfortunately, it did not work out. But as I was thinking about the adoption, I believe that the child did not realize how abundant his life was going to be. You and I have no idea what this abundant life includes. When Jesus Christ died on a cross and came back to life, He verified, authenticated, that His death on a cross was sufficient to forgive our sins so that we could be declared righteous, and have eternal life or abundant life.
And the third thing that Christ provided for us is that He is the one who defends us. 1 John 2:1-2 says He is our advocate. He defends us. Did you know that once you get your sins forgiven, nobody can ever accuse you of wrongdoing successfully, because Christ will defend you? Watch this: There is no sin that you could commit in the future that is going to cause you to lose your salvation, because Christ keeps defending you. He is our advocate.
Fourth Benefit of the Resurrection
The fourth benefit of the resurrection is that we have a living hope. Let’s go back to 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 which says,
But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 1 Corinthians 15:20-22 (NASB)
Now watch verse 23.
But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming. 1 Corinthians 15:23 (NASB)
The message is that Christ is the most important one who can back to life—He was resurrected. And the next major event in the timeline is the resurrection of all the saints. So the next benefit is the resurrection of every Christian since Pentecost. Then notice the last part of the verse says, “at His coming.” What is that? The second coming! Watch this: If Jesus had not come back to life, I would not have experienced a resurrection in the future. There would not be a second coming of Christ either. Then verse 24 says the end comes, and He hands over the kingdom to the Father. If He did not come back to life, it would have meant that He was a sinner. It would have meant His death was not adequate, not sufficient to forgive our sins.
The fourth benefit of the resurrection is found in 1 Peter 1:3. It says this,
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead . . . 1 Peter 1:3 (NASB)
Message? Because of the resurrection we have a living hope. We have faith and hope because Jesus came back to life. Verse 4 teaches,
. . . to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable … 1 Peter 1:4a (NASB)
In other words, we have this inheritance and it does not go away.
. . . and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 1 Peter 1:4b (NASB)
In other words, you already have a reservation in Heaven, like a reservation in a hotel. You have that reservation and it is yours.
And verse 5 is important because it tells you that you are protected.
. . . who are protected by the power of God . . . 1 Peter 1:5a (NASB)
Your resurrection and your reservation in Heaven is protected . . .
. . . through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:5b (NASB)
What is the benefit of the resurrection? It affirms the truthfulness of God. It affirms that Jesus is God. It affirms that when you put your faith in Jesus Christ and you are repentant of your sins, you know, because Christ came back to life, that you are positionally holy, or have been declared righteous, before God. God does not see any sin in you. All your sins are forgiven: past, present, and future, and you have hope and faith in the future. When we say “hope,” we do not mean “wishing hope,” “hoping it is going to happen.” The Greek word really means “assurance, confidence.” So you have this settled confidence, this trust in God that it is going to happen. That is tremendous, I tell you! The resurrection has great benefits.
I want to close with the last part of the hymn called “Christ Arose.” It was written by Robert Lowry.
Death cannot keep his prey, Jesus my Savior.
He tore the bars away, Jesus my Lord.
And up from the grave he arose with a might triumph over His foes.
He arose a victor from the dark domain, and He lives forever with His saints to reign.
He arose, He arose, hallelujah! Christ arose!