We’ve been going through an old list of questions and answers contained in the Westminster Larger Catechism published in 1648. In particular we’ve been looking at how Christ was exalted by his resurrection. We’ve seen that Christ was exalted by moving from a dead state to a living state and by the fact that all three members of the Trinity raised him. We’ve also seen that Christ’s resurrection declared that he was the Son of God. This week I want to show you that Christ’s resurrection demonstrates he satisfied divine justice.
We all recognise that if justice is to be done then punishment must be given to those who have broken the law. If a judge allows the guilty to go free, they are not a just judge.
The same stands for God. After our first parents, Adam and Eve, sinned by eating the forbidden fruit, God’s justice was at stake. If he let them have eternal life in spite of their rebellion he is an unjust judge.
The same applies to us today. We have all sinned and deserve to be punished for our sin. If God gives us entry to heaven instead of punishment, he is unjust.
But if we’re all sinners and God is just, is there any way we can go to heaven? We can go to heaven if somebody else takes the punishment for us. If you get a speeding fine and someone else pays it for you, you can go free in the eyes of the law. There is nothing left to pay.
The same applies to God and the punishment he has for us. Somebody else can take the place for us. But who is able to meet the payment that would satisfy divine wrath for sin? Jesus. Speaking of Jesus, the Bible says: ‘But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed’ (Isaiah 53:5).
But how do you know that the punishment that brought us peace was upon Christ and that he has fully satisfied God’s wrath? By his resurrection from the dead. Christ’s resurrection proves he has paid for our sins. The apostle Paul writes: ‘He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification’ (Romans 4:25). Christ’s resurrection shows we are justified before God, despite our sin. If there was more punishment to pay, Jesus could not have been raised from the dead – he would have had to stay dead.
Thus, by his resurrection Jesus is exalted. His resurrection shows that he has satisfied God’s wrath for those who believe in him. Christ is exalted as the one who justifies the wicked, while preserving the justice of God.
But how can you have Christ satisfy God’s wrath for you? It is by faith. Paul writes: ‘Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Romans 5:1-2).
Do you have faith in Christ and know that Christ has justified you by his resurrection from the dead? Do you exalt Christ because of his resurrection from the dead?