What Jesus’s Resurrection Accomplished

All over the world, Christians will, this weekend, celebrate the astounding truth that a crucified rabbi was raised from the dead and, equally astonishing, would never die again.

It’s worth asking why we regard the resurrection of Christ as so important. Why did Paul tell the Corinthians, “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (I Corinthians 15:19)?

The resurrection of Jesus was, first, a vindication. It demonstrated that He was both sinless man and fully God. The apostle Paul explains that “sin came into the world through one man [Adam] and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned” (Romans 5:12). Our inheritance from Adam is not only physical existence but spiritual death. A morally perfect man, set in a flawless, sin-absent environment, deliberately chose to rebel against his Creator. He was a “test case,” humanity’s representative before God. In other words, Adam demonstrated that inevitably, all would sin and, therefore, God rightly judged us all in him.  From our first father, we have inherited a tainted nature, an insistent pulling away from our Maker.

Through Adam, then, we also inherit death, both temporal and eternal. “The wages of sin” — the appropriate payment for our evil and evil-doing – “is death” (Romans 6:23a). If this is the case, and if there is nothing we can do to satisfy God’s just demand for moral perfection, we are unavoidably doomed.

So, then, in what way was Jesus’s resurrection a vindication? Had He not been morally perfect, He would have remained in the tomb. But if death is the fruit of sin, then the Sinless One could not but be raised. His resurrection proves His perfection. Christ is the “second Adam,” the One Who did not fail the lifelong test of complete obedience to the Father (I Corinthians 15:45). And, of course, as fully God in human flesh, death had no hold on Him. Jesus Himself declared, “No one takes [My life] from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father” (John 10:18).

Second, Jesus’s resurrection was a victory — indeed, the greatest and most comprehensive victory in the history of the universe. Part of this victory was the Lord Jesus’s triumph over the author of death, “that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray” (Revelation 12:9). On the cross, Christ “became sin for us” (II Corinthians 5:21), on our behalf experiencing the full and righteous rage of the Father against all human sin. Having taken the penalty for our sin, He said, “It is completed,” a reference to the fulfillment of all the Old Testament prophesies about the Messiah.

Put simply, Jesus won: He defeated death. He defeated Satan and his forces. He fulfilled His Messianic mission. By His atoning death on a Roman cross, the eternal debt of punishment we owe an infinitely holy God was “paid in full.” By deciding to place our trust in Christ alone, believing that His substitution for us on the cross met completely the demand of the Father that payment be made for our deep moral sickness, we can experience new and eternal life in His presence. This is the new, second birth. Paul puts it much better than me:

“And you, who were dead in your trespasses … God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in Him” (Colossians 2:13-15).

Finally, the resurrection of Jesus was vibrant. Our word “vibrant” comes from a Latin term referring to something being shaken back and forth. It was a metaphor for energy and life and vitality. So with the resurrection of Jesus: “We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death He died He died to sin, once for all, but the life He lives He lives to God” (Romans 6:9-10). This is why those who have been born a second time can “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4), our sins forgiven, our hope sure, our joyous eternal destiny awaiting us.

We still live in a world where the ugly taint of sin permeates. All who have lost loved ones, who themselves are suffering, who know disappointment and betrayal, trauma, and pain, long for the day when all things will be made new. Yet even in our experience of time and fallenness, we can still rejoice. The vaporous life we now know has been “swallowed up in victory” — Christ’s and, through Him, ours.

This is why Jesus could say, “In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer — I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). In Him, in His resurrection from the dead, so have we.

He is risen — He is risen indeed!


Rob Schwarzwalder

Rob Schwarzwalder, Ph.D., is Senior Lecturer in Regent University’s Honors College.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2024 Family Research Council.

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