The thrust of this fourth article of the series on the necessity of death and resurrection is on what the resurrection of Jesus Christ does and gains. The resurrection took place some two thousand years ago and yet it has ongoing significance for the past, current and unborn generations. How is the resurrection relevant for all generations? Why does it have such a lasting impact? Does it matter? This article will explore a little bit. The third article on the Christian theological understanding of death made the following observations:
The Bible identifies three kinds of death. The first is physical. This is the complete cessation of breath; when the living being ceases to exist and the organs decay. Judaism, Christianity and Islam believe that the souls of humans live on after physical death awaiting judgment. The second kind of death is spiritual. This occurs when a human disregards God Almighty and what he requires. The spiritually dead person may be physically well and be doing well in other areas of his/her life but is dead to godly influence and direction. She/he is separated from God. Some Christians call the spiritually dead the “living dead”. The third and worst form of death is eternal death. This occurs when a human being is permanently separated from God after he/she has passed through judgment and is condemned to hell!
From a biblical perspective physical death is the result of sin and sometime human carelessness or neglect. By and large the world, including the Old Testament, sees death as a negative thing, a negation of life, the opposite of life. It is therefore dreaded and if possible to be avoided. But Jesus and the New Testament show death as a necessity for resurrection. Jesus teaches thus: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, let him follow me; and where I am, there my servant will be also. If anyone serves me, him my Father will honor” (John 12:24-26). Sometime we have to die to ourselves to live the religious life and certainly we have to die in order to enter heaven.
Before one goes to heaven she/he has to resurrect first. According John Stott the resurrection achieves basically three things. It assures us of the forgiveness of our sins no matter how small or serious. It assures us of ultimate victory. And, it assures us of the transforming power of God. Let us explain these in brief.
Spiritually and psychologically speaking one of our basic needs is forgiveness. All human beings are sinners through and through. We wrong God and one another all the time. We are selfish and consciously or unconsciously we offend God and each other by our thoughts, words and deeds. The ultimate result of wrongdoing is guilt. Martin Luther King, Jr. was right when he observed that the image of God in each one of us will not allow us to feel natural when we do the unnatural and to feel right when we do wrong; it nags us. We may pretend and attempt to fool ourselves and others but the guilt remains. The solution is forgiveness. The resurrection of Jesus shows that we are and can be forgiven any sins we have committed. In referring to his blood he said, “This is my blood which is poured out for you and many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28).
Also the resurrection assures of God’s power over evil. Evil may persist for a while but right and goodness triumph ultimately. The resurrection is a testimony that evil is and can be overcome. The devil and his agents seemed to have defeated Jesus by inflicting pain and killing him but he rose from death to die no more! Someone said that Satan wrote, “It is finished” but God wrote, “To be continued”. The resurrection proves God’s ultimate defeat of evil and death.
The resurrection is God’s victory on behalf of and for us. We share in his victory. Because he lives we too live and can face any situations of life. Because we share in his resurrection we too share in his power over evil. By faith and obedience we have power to defeat evil in and around us. “We are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8: 37). The resurrection matters because it gives us power to live and overcome evil in its myriad forms.