THE RESURRECTION OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
The rising from the dead of the Lord Jesus Christ supplies a peaceful, and powerful subject of meditation to the Christian, as he dwells upon it as a fact, and as he progressively appreciates its results, consequences and effects. The pre-eminent factor in it, is that Christ’s sacrifice for sin was finished and final, perfect and complete. It was accepted by God, and Christ’s resurrection was the resounding proclamation that it had been accepted, and that it need not, and cannot be repeated. The pre-eminent consequence of it is that all men whose faith is in Christ alone, are justified from all things from which they could not be justified by their attempts at keeping the inexorable and holy law of God given by Moses and commonly called the Moral Law. He “was delivered for (on account of) our offences, and was raised again for (on account of) our justification” (Rom.4.25). A holy calm appears to have rested upon Christ in resurrection, as in each stage of His exaltation. This was in contrast to His previous anguish in Gethsemane, and to all the horrendous sufferings when the flames of God’s wrath was as the fire consuming the sacrifice. In anticipation He said, “How am I straitened till it be accomplished!” In resurrection the cup had been thoroughly drained, and the salvation of His people was accomplished.
How worthy of God is the plan of salvation! He can never act below Himself. He is all-wise, all-merciful; His plan showed forth His glorious perfections, and at the same time it was that best suited to man. When the Lord Jesus died instead of His people. His people may be said to have died in Him; He is their Head. Though God laid that terrible suffering upon Him for the satisfaction of His outraged holy law, He undertook it voluntarily. “Then said I, Lo, I come; in the volume of the book it is written of me; I delight to do thy will, O my God, yea, thy law is within my heart.” And because God’s law was within Christ’s heart, Christ kept it for those who could not, and would not, and yet are called by grace. It was meat and drink to Christ to do His Father’s will, and in resurrection to anticipate His reward in the salvation and exaltation of His people. For this incomparable and immeasureable joy He “endured the cross, despising the shame.”
God’s plan of redemption is a holy one. And a new lustre was
added to His holy law by the fact that He who fulfilled it was God as well as man. So Christ magnified the law and made it honourable, paying the penalty due under it from man. By this plan God’s people are chosen to be holy by regeneration, and they prove their regeneration by their holiness in sanctification, and both regeneration and sanctification are operations of the same Holy Spirit. A Christian’s righteousness is perfected by the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, and by imputation alone; his sanctification is the evidence of his regeneration. This plan is secure through God’s immutability, and it is a stream of mercy flowing from His mercy, though there was all the evil in man to check it. We were in Adam when he sinned, and with the poison of Adam’s nature we are tainted. “By the offence of one, judgement came upon all men to condemnation.” The salvation of man is from God’s free grace from first to last; it is His by gift without money and without price. “Ho! every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” Surely every fresh draught of this precious living water, ought to create longing for more!
Though Christ’s death is the foundation of His merit, yet His resurrection is the foundation of the application of that merit to all His seed. It was Christ’s sacrifice, not His resurrection, which merited our justification; but His resurrection declared it. Just as the expiation of our offences depended on the death of our Surety, so the justification of our persons in God’s court-room depended on the discharge of our Surety. It was to that end that He was raised up by God to be a standing foundation of, and encouragement to, our faith. “Raised again for (on account of) our justification”.
The regeneration of the seed given to Christ in eternal covenant, is assured by Christ’s resurrection. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which, according to his abundant mercy, hath begotten us again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Pet. 1.3). His resurrection was a sample of the spiritual resurrection which takes place in the hearts of all true believers. They are united to Him by a living faith, “according to the working of the mighty power” of God “which he wrought in Christ when He raised him from the dead.” The Father is the fountain of the spiritual life which should flow out from Christ to all His seed: “A seed shall serve Him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.” “I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish.”
Be it remembered that the resurrection of Christ was wrapped up in the promise made to Adam, that Christ the Head of His seed, should bruise the serpent’s head. The head being the chief part of natural life, when Satan’s head was so thoroughly bruised by the
resurrection of Jesus from the dead, he could have no power to pluck believers from Christ. This promise applies retrospectively as well as to the time of the actual resurrection. “The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God which giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The sting of death was left in the Saviour’s bleeding wounds, and when He had “overcome the sharpness of death, (He) did open the kingdom of heaven to all believers.”
K. W. H. Howard