One thing I think we often fail to consider is exactly what was happening when it comes to Jesus’ resurrection. The standard thought is Jesus was raised from the dead and so we will be raised from the dead. But there is a lot more to it than that. The parts we often skip over or miss out on are actually quite fascinating, important and practical.
When you look at what people like Paul said about Jesus’ resurrection you get a bigger picture than dying for sins and raised so we can be raised. You get more than a simple, Jesus was raised to show he was the Messiah. Here are a few verses to consider. The first in from 1 Corinthians 15:
1 Cor 15:20-27
“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27For he “has put everything under his feet.”
Notice how much of that language is about power and authority. The resurrection involves conflict. It involves conquest. It involves Jesus coming in authority and with power as LORD (a term we use often but normally don’t consider the implications of authority that come with it). He came with a mission to defeat and destroy and disarm the powers of evil and darkness in the world. That is important because those same powers stood opposed to God’s people and to the world being reconciled back to God.
Satan as adversary:
The very word Satan in Hebrew means adversary. When used as a verb it means someone opposses someone else. God’s angel who blocked Balaam’s donkey’s path was a “satan” to Baalam. He stood in opposition to him…not that he was “Satan” as the proper name. Satan has power in this world. We see that in the temptation of Jesus in Matthew 4. Satan has the power to hand over much power and authority to Jesus because it is his to give (Matthew 4:8). In three places in the Gospel of John Jesus refers to Satan as the “prince of this world” (12:31, 14:30, 16:11). That assumes he has some level of power and authority in the realm of this world.
Notice then, what Jesus came to do according to 1 Cor 15 – he came to “put all his enemies under his feet.” That assumes they had power that had to be subdued or else they would already be under his feet. How? I assume they did because God allowed it to be that way due to the consequences of the sinfulness of mankind. Jesus came to reign and to destroy those things that oppose his rule and authority. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. That is what Jesus did through his resurrection.
Again, it is more than a “he died for sins and so he had to be raised so we could be raised” issue. In and through his resurrection there was a spiritual power struggle and battle that was taking place to show whose authority would reign supreme. If Jesus had lost the fight, sin and death would still reign supreme and he would not have been raised. Seeing the Lord Jesus resurrected is evidence that he has taken on the powers of this world and of darkness and won victory over them.
What is the implication for us? We have victory. Death won’t be the final word. Sin has no mastery over us.
“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. 15And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”
More of the same. This passage is loaded with terms of authority and power. It also contains the idea of powers standing in opposition to us that needed to be taken care of. There is the issue of the “written code” that gets nailed to the cross. Some say that is the law but we know that is not the case. This written code is a list of charges that stands against one who is condemned and that would then stand in between us and God. Jesus came and removed our disgrace by nailing it to the cross. In doing so he made a public spectacle of the powers and authorities that had previously made a public spectacle of him. He took the powers and made them powerless. He showed himself to be the supreme authority in triumphing over the powers of darkness through the cross and resurrection.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
We often pass quickly over these verses to get to the verses that follow about the armor of God. But these verses say it all. There is a spiritual reality in the world and at work to stand in opposition to us. Notice the key. We are to be strong in God’s mighty power and stand against the powers and authorities of this world. Jesus’ resurrection ensures that we are able to do that successfully because the battle has already been won.