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 and the Lord of the living and the dead, and that he had satisfied divine justice and publicly defeated death and Satan. This week I want to show that Jesus was exalted by his resurrection as his resurrection accomplished great things for his church.
If you do something powerful, people will exalt you easily enough. But if you are able to demonstrate excellent reasons for such a powerful action, then people will exalt you even more.
For example, if I can leap buildings in a single bound like Superman claims, that is marvellous. But it is even more marvellous if I leap buildings in a single bound not simply to help myself, but to help others.
As we’ve seen in previous weeks, Christ’s resurrection is marvellous for many reasons. But Christ’s resurrection is even more marvellous if we consider that he was raised from the dead for the benefit of his people.
How does Christ’s resurrection benefit his people. Firstly, Paul says that Christ’s resurrection was for our justification: ‘He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification’ (Romans 4:25). What does this mean? At his death, Christ became our sin and paid the penalty for sin. Christ’s resurrection then demonstrated that payment for sin had been made – if something more was owing because of our sins, then Jesus would have stayed dead. But because he was raised, we know we are justified (right with God).
Secondly Christ was raised from the dead to raise us from the dead too. As Christians, Paul says that we have been ‘raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead’ (Col 2:12). We have new life in Christ.
Thirdly, Christ was raised from the dead to give us assurance of our own resurrection. In 1 Corinthians Paul states that if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. But then Paul says that Christ has been raised and many will follow him: ‘But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep’ (1 Corinthians 15:20). Because of Christ’s resurrection we can know that those who have ‘fallen asleep’ will one day be raised too. And that includes us when we eventually ‘fall asleep’.
So Christ’s resurrection exalts him in many ways, particularly when we consider that his resurrection benefits those who believe in him: Christ’s resurrection justifies Christians, makes Christians alive and gives assurance of our own resurrection.
So do you exalt Christ because of his resurrection? Do you take comfort in the fact that his resurrection was for your justification, to make you live and give you assurance?