“The resurrection of Christ is one of the foundation-stones of Christianity. It was the seal of the great work that He came on earth to do. It was the crowning proof that the ransom He paid for sinners was accepted, the atonement for sin accomplished, the head of him who had the power of death bruised, and the victory won.”
J. C. Ryle
Life has always been about power. Today, the majority of humanity seeks fame and fortune, solely because the result of both is power and influence over others. This pursuit of authority or influence over others is nothing new. It has existed since humanity was first created. In the days of Adam and Eve, humanity wanted power just as most do today. Humanity wanted to have the wisdom and authority of God. It is this pursuit of power which corrupted humanity and forced us to need the restoration that was given to us by God’s grace. This restoration power of God is what Easter is all about. Just like life itself, Easter is about power. Yet, it is not about mankind’s pursuit of power. Easter is about God’s loving pursuit of humanity and His power to restore what was once lost. Therefore, it is important to understand the role that power has in the overall story of the relationship between mankind and God so that we may gain a deeper understanding of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. So, let us briefly review mankind’s path to justification through God’s grace so that this deeper understanding of the resurrection can be revealed.
Power and Pursuit
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was fully God. The Word was with God in the beginning. All things were created by him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind.” – John 1:1-4
In this passage, it is generally understood that the “Word” is Jesus Christ. John makes three extremely significant points in this short passage. He first states that Jesus, the Word, was with God and is God before time began. The second thing that John stresses is that Jesus was a part of creation and without Him creation could not have occurred. The third point that John makes is that Jesus is life and this life is the light of man. Therefore, Jesus who is both God and life gave life itself to humanity when we were first created.
“Now the serpent was more shrewd than any of the wild animals that the Lord God had made… The serpent said to the woman, “Surely you will not die, for God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will open and you will be like divine beings who know good and evil.” When the woman saw that the tree produced fruit that was good for food, was attractive to the eye, and was desirable for making one wise, she took some of its fruit and ate it. She also gave some of it to her husband who was with her, and he ate it.” — Genesis 3:1-6
Yet, Genesis shows us that humanity was not content with God’s gift of life. Mankind wanted more. When the serpent informed Eve that she could have power equal to God’s power, she, along with Adam, gave up the gift of life for what they believed to be a power equal to God, Himself.
“So then, just as sin entered the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all people because all sinned.” — Romans 5:12
Therefore, when humanity gave up God-given life for the pursuit of power he brought into existence a corruption of the original world God had created, sin. Through this corruption, humanity received death instead of the power they had pursued and death was given power over humanity through sin.
“What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Absolutely not! Certainly, I would not have known sin except through the law. For indeed I would not have known what it means to desire something belonging to someone else if the law had not said, “Do not covet.”” — Romans 7:7
However, humanity had no understanding of what sin and corruption were. So in order to reveal the righteousness of God, God revealed to humanity His law. This law would show humanity the difference between right and wrong, between sin and righteousness, between God and corruption.
“For all who rely on doing the works of the law are under a curse, because it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not keep on doing everything written in the book of the law.” Now it is clear no one is justified before God by the law, because the righteous one will live by faith.” — Galatians 3:10-11
Yet, now that humanity understood the difference between sin and righteousness, it was revealed that no one could obey the entire law. Because the law was righteous before God, but no one could completely follow God’s commands. Humanity remained cursed.
“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us (because it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”)” — Galatians 3:13
Now, God understood that mankind could not live up to His commands. So, out of love for humanity, God sent His one and only son to take upon Himself the curse that was brought upon humanity through the law. God sacrificed His only son to atone for the corruption that mankind had originally brought upon itself in his pursuit of God-like power.
“But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also came through a man. For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.” — 1 Corinthians 15:20-22
Though Christ had taken mankind’s curse upon himself, death still had power over humanity. Therefore, God raised Christ from the dead. Through this resurrection of Jesus Christ, life was once again given to humanity.
I find this process of God’s plan to be completely astonishing. Humanity gave up a God-given gift for something it thought was better. Mankind chose power over life. Yet, God loved us so much that through His own power, He atoned for the corruption that mankind brought upon himself, and He defeated the power of death which then restored God’s original gift to mankind, life. This is precisely what Easter is about. First, we must remind ourselves that through our own pursuit of power, we will not only lack power but we will lose God’s gift. Second, we have nothing to do with our own justification. It is solely through the power of God that we are made whole through the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Third, after we understand, our singular role in our own corruption and God’s singular role in our justification, we can truly appreciate the celebration of Easter, the day on which, through God’s resurrection power, the power of death was defeated and God’s gift of life is restored to humanity. Yet, some have said that this is where God’s justification of humanity ends. However, I disagree:
“I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you spiritual wisdom and revelation in your growing knowledge of him, —since the eyes of your heart have been enlightened—so that you may know what is the hope of his calling, what is the wealth of his glorious inheritance in the saints and what is the incomparable greatness of his power toward us who believe, as displayed in the exercise of his immense strength. This power He exercised in Christ when He raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms.” — Ephesians 1:17-20
“In other words, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting people’s trespasses against them, and he has given us the message of reconciliation. Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making His plea through us. We plead with you on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God!”” — 2 Corinthians 5:19-20
Yes, Easter is about God’s power in first atoning for the corruption that man brought upon himself, and second, God’s power overcoming the power of death for humanity. However, Easter is also a reminder, that through Jesus Christ, humanity has been given the same resurrection power. After God restored the gift of life to humanity, He, in turn, gave those who have faith in Christ Jesus, the same power that raised Christ from the dead. God did all of this so that those who have His power can then share that power with the rest of humanity. So Easter, the time of Christ overthrowing death itself for humanity’s sake, is not the end of our story, it is simply the beginning.
Life is all about power. Since the beginning of time mankind has pursued power. This pursuit of power brought corruption and sin into the world, which in turn caused humanity to lose the God-given gift of life and receive the curse of death. Yet, in God’s pure love for mankind, He took this curse upon Himself and, not only atoned for the corruption of humanity, but in His grace and through His resurrection power, He defeated death itself restoring life to mankind. However, God did not stop there. Through His victory over death, He gave humanity, through Jesus Christ, the same resurrection power He has. God restored His original gift to us and gave us the power we originally pursued. This is why the celebration of Easter is important. We are reminded of God’s uncontainable love for us, that through His power, death, which we brought upon ourselves, is defeated and through His grace, we, also, have been given His power, which is what we originally pursued. Easter is a reminder of our failure in our own pursuit and, above all, God’s triumph in our restoration through His resurrection power.