Easter is a time when many Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. However, when we think about the resurrection, we tend to look backwards and focus on the empty tomb. We celebrate the fact that Jesus was raised from the dead and rejoice in the new life that he has provided for us. The problem with looking back in this way is that we fail to understand the full impact of what the resurrection achieved for the present and the future. The resurrection was the pivotal event in history. When Jesus was raised from the dead, everything changed.
Beautiful World Messed Up
To understand the reality of the resurrection, we must understand what happened before. In the beginning, God created a beautiful world. He looked at his work and saw that it was good. God created man in his image and commissioned us to care for his world. To equip us for this task, he gave mankind full authority over the earth.
Once authority is given, it cannot be taken back, so giving humans authority over the earth was an amazing risk. God was willing to take this risk, because he had made us in his likeness. When a son is like his father, he behaves in the same way as his father. In the same way, God saw the people he had created on earth as his family. Because we were created in his likeness, he trusted us to care for his earth. His intention was to teach us to care for the earth, as a father teaches his sons or a master tradesperson trains his apprentices.
This wonderful association fell apart, when Adam and Eve were tricked into disobeying God. This did not just break their relationship with their father by obeying Satan, they surrendered to him their authority over the earth. God had given dominion over the earth to man, but man foolishly gave that dominion to the devil. This fall into sin gave evil full reign on earth. God's beautiful world was corrupted by violence and disaster.
God the father does not go back on his word, so he would not take back the authority he has given to man. Only a human could take back the authority that was given to the devil, but because all humans are corrupted by sin, no human had the power to take back authority over the earth and boot evil out of the world.
Jesus was God's solution to the mess that humans created on earth. He was born as a man, so he was entitled to exercise authority on earth. Because he did not sin, he was not under the influence of evil. That is why the devil worked so hard to tempt him into sin. If Jesus had succumbed to sin, he would have come under the authority of the devil and would been unable to fulfil his commission.
When the devil managed to get Jesus crucified, he thought he had won a great victory. He believed that he had destroyed the only person who could destroy his power. With Jesus dead, the last threat to the devil's power was gone. God only had one son, and if he was destroyed, God's last option for victory was gone.
We think of Jesus dying on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. That is true. We were redeemed by his blood she during his crucifixion. However, the cross only dealt with part of the mess on earth. It deal with sin, but if Jesus stayed dead, the devil was free to continue exercising authority on earth. No good man was left to establish the Kingdom of God on earth. There was not perfect man to enter heaven with authority to release the Holy Spirit to go all out on earth. The cross on its own was a partial victory. It dealt with sin, but could restore the earth from the harm that sin had done.
The resurrection was a huge victory for Jesus.
The resurrection took nothing away from the crucifixion. The pains and suffering of Jesus was not reversed. The penalty for sin was still paid. Redemption was available for all who would trust in Jesus.
The resurrection was a huge defeat for the devil, who thought that he had killed the only real threat to his power. By rising from the dead, Jesus exposed the Devil's weakness. He could not get Jesus to sin and he could not kill him, so he now was powerless against him. Jesus could go on and complete his mission and the devil was powerless against him. He could ascend into heaven beyond the reach of evil.
The resurrection was a massive defeat for the principalities and powers that carry out the devil's purposes. God used the resurrection to destroy their power.
He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion (Eph 1:20.21).
The principalities and powers had worked through the Roman empire and the Jewish religious to destroy Jesus. The resurrection turned their best efforts into failure.
The resurrection proved that Jesus is the Messiah foretold by the Jewish prophets. David had prophesied that body of the Messiah would decay or be buried in a tomb.
Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay (Acts 2:31).
The world has had many would-be messiahs. Jesus is the only one who has risen from the dead. The resurrection confirmed that he is the saviour of the world.
The resurrection was writing on the wall for human political powers. The resurrection proved that Jesus was Lord of all the earth.
God has made this Jesus both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:26).
If Jesus is Lord, the Caesar is not. If Jesus is Lord, Obama is not. When Jesus was raised from the dead, God established him as the true king of earth. Human empires and powers that do not surrender to him will be swept eventually be swept away.
The resurrection enthroned Jesus as King of Kings. All human principalities and powers will eventually have to surrender their authority to him. That should really have happened sooner.
When Jesus appeared to his disciples after his resurrection, he made this declaration.
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me (Matt 28:18).
This was after the resurrection, but before the ascension. All authority in heaven and earth had been given to Jesus. This was the consequence of the resurrection. Jesus had promised that the Kingdom of God was close. He had called for people to get ready for its coming. The resurrection marked the coming of the Kingdom of God, because the reward for his life and death struggle with the devil was authority over all the earth. The resurrection enthroned Jesus as King of Kings and brought in the Kingdom of God
The resurrection made it possible for Jesus to ascend into heaven and sit down at the right hand of God. His ascension was the final working out of his resurrection in fulfilment of (Daniel 7:13-14).
In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
The dominion that had been given to Adam and Eve, but was lost by them was restored to Jesus. Because he is at the right hand of the father, it can never be taken away, so his kingdom can never be destroyed. The kingdom established on the day of the resurrection can never pass away.
Jesus resurrection was the most momentous event that has ever occurred on earth. Prior to the resurrection, the devil, the principalities and powers had real authority that gave them a free hand on earth. The resurrection destroyed their powers. They have continued to hang round on earth getting up to mischief, but their status has changed. The principalities and power are now imposters and trespassers in Jesus world, waiting nervously for Jesus disciples to take up their authority to expose them.
His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord (Eph 3:10,11).
This is an amazing statement. God's eternal purpose is that the church will expose the defeat off the rulers and powers in heavenly realms that was accomplished through Jesus resurrection. We must understand the significance of this. The resurrection makes victory over the principalities and powers possible for the church. This was a huge change. The balance of power on earth was tilted dramatically in favour of God's people.
The resurrection was a huge setback for the powers of evil. They should have been would be totally crushed, if they had not deceived Christians into unbelief about the victory of the resurrection.
Despite the victory of the resurrection, most Christians believe that things on earth will get worse and worse. Many Christians expect the power and influence of evil to grow and spread in an unprecedented way. Those who hold this view are ignoring the impact of the resurrection. They are implicitly assuming that they live in a world that is just the same as it was in Old Testament times. This is a serious mistake. The resurrection was a huge defeat for the powers of evil that should change the way we live.
Political Power Futile
The power of political empires is sustained by the spiritual principalities and powers that work behind them. The defeat of these spiritual powers should have led to the disappearance of the political empires that dominated the ancient world. Daniel understood this because the angel had explained the implication of the rising of the Son of Man.
Then the kingdom and dominion,
And the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven,
Shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High.
His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
And all dominions shall serve and obey Him (Dan 7:27).
The resurrection of Jesus made him Kingdom of Kings. This undermined the status and power of kings and rules everywhere. The resurrection is a sign that human political powers will eventually fade away.
We live in a compassionate age, when people really care about the suffering in the world. Most people want to see poverty eliminated. They want the handicapped to be helped. People want the suffering of animals to be ended.
This compassion and caring is good. Unfortunately this caring is mostly channelled into the power of the state. People are concerned about unnecessary suffering, but most just assume that if governments are given enough money they can remove suffering from the world.
This confidence in the power of the state is unfounded. Governments can make some improvements, but they can never provide a total solution to the problems of the world. The resurrection demonstrated the failure of state power and signalled the victory of the Kingdom of God. Thos who are concerned about the problems of the world should focus their hope on the Kingdom of God.
Power of the Spirit
The resurrection empowered Jesus to ascend into heaven and pour out the Holy Spirit on his people on earth.
God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear (Acts 2:33-33).
If Jesus had not been raised, the Spirit would not have come.
The coming of the Holy Sprit changes everything. In Old Testament times, the activity of the Holy Spirit was intermittent. He move through a few people and was not active. Following the resurrection of Jesus, he is active in every believer in a much deeper way.
The full implication of the coming of the Spirit is hard to grasp. The church often lives as if the Holy Spirit is still only sporadically active on earth, much like in pre-resurrection times.
Paul prayed that the Ephesians would have the eyes of their hearts enlightened to understand what it meant.
I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead (Eph 1:18-20).
The resurrection was accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit. Those who have received the Holy Spirit have the same power working in them as the power that raised Jesus from the dead. That changes everything.
Jesus came to establish the Kingdom of God here on earth, as it is in heaven. The resurrection marked the inauguration of this Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is not something that he will Return to establish at the end age. That Kingdom was inaugurated when he was raised from the dead.
The LORD says to my Lord:
"Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet" (Psalm 110:1).
Jesus would sit at the right hand of God until the Holy Spirit and the church has defeated all his enemies. He will then Return to receive the completed Kingdom and hand it over to the Father.
Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet (1 Cor 15:24-25).
The resurrection was the great turning point in history. It marked the inauguration of the Kingdom of God here on earth.