But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” (Matthew 28:5-7 ESV).
Jesus had been accused by the Jews of blasphemy against the temple and for saying that God was His Father. To the Romans He was accused by the Jews of being an insurrectionist for saying that He was the King of the Jews. In the minds of both the Jews and the Romans His crucifixion was justified. From the standpoint of those who did the heinous act, His crucifixion was intended to put an end to an inconvenient – and from their point of view, dangerous – problem.
But from God’s perspective, the death of Jesus was not the end, it was a new beginning – the beginning of a new creation. In the mind of God, His death was the only sacrifice that was sufficient to deal with the problem of sin. Sin had corrupted the first creation. Jesus died to destroy sin, but resurrection is something new. Beginning with His resurrection the whole creation takes on a new meaning.
That first-day-of-the-week morning when Jesus arose was a day of victory. Death could not hold Him – He triumphed over it. The grave could not long claim Him – He came forth from it. “The way of all the earth” as Joshua described death, (Joshua 23:14), does not apply any longer to Him.
It was only possible for Him to be preached as the Son of God after His resurrection. Paul says that He was “…declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4).
For us it means that He… “abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,” (2 Timothy 1:10). For those who are in Him it means that there is the certainty of eternal life. By the death of Jesus we are made acceptable in the presence of God. The fellowship that was lost in the garden of Eden is restored and the new, resurrection life is lived with God.
“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” (Hebrews 2:14-15).
The meaning of this is tremendous. It means that nothing would ever be the same again. It means that the death that began to reign over creation at the fall has been abolished for those who believe in Him. This means that the fear of death no longer has any power to paralyze the best efforts of those who choose life with Him.
Peter on the day of Pentecost, in speaking of the resurrection of Jesus, says that the divine presence of the Holy Spirit, who is forever with with the believers, was only possible following His resurrection and ascension back to the Father.
(Acts 2:32-33). “This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.”
That means that the Spirit that raised Jesus up from the dead also gives life to us in the present.
(Romans 8:11). “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”
That means that the resurrection of Jesus was not just a historical event, but one that continues to be lived out in the lives of His saints. There is both the assurance of a future resurrection and a present reality of newness of life. It all ties in to His resurrection, but it is a present, living reality because of the Holy Spirit who now lives in us, giving us a new, different kind of life – a life that would not be possible had Jesus not been raised from the dead.
When Paul had argued at length that the hope of resurrection of the Christian is based on the historical reality of the resurrection of Jesus, (after His resurrection Jesus was seen by over 500 witnesses; (1 Corinthians 15:6), he urges that we get busy – to “…be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58). In view of the certainty of the resurrection, Christians are not to sit down and passively wait for His return and their bodily resurrection, but are to be “abounding in the work of the Lord.” Thus, there is a connection between resurrection and work.
What is the point? What should we see in the resurrection that motivates us to do the work of the Lord? This labor has nothing to do with the old argument about it not being possible to earn salvation. It has everything to do with the natural life of the kingdom of Christ. Man was made to work. The original directive when he was placed in the garden of Eden. “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” (Genesis 2:15).
This means that when we are born again, redeemed, raised up to walk in newness of life, made to sit together with Him, we are created anew, and as that new creation are made for “good works.”
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)
As a new creation, we are restored to fellowship with God. We are, as it were, placed in His garden – His world that has now become our workplace. The work we are to do must in some way be connected with being His new creation. As people who are being made more and more in His image, our work must always be directed toward the end of showing the glory of God in the world. As Israel was commanded, so must we…
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16).