20 The Power of the Resurrection



A meditation on Ephesians 1:19-21


Paul describes the power of God as 'like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms far above all rule and authority …' [Ephesians 1:19-21].

There is something about the resurrection of Christ that sets it apart from all other restorations of life. Jesus raised Jairus' daughter from death to life. He raised a widow's son. He raised Lazarus. In each of these he demonstrated his life-giving power over death.

But his resurrection is different. Because his death is different.

His death is the death of the One who was without sin [Hebrews 4:15]. His death is a substitutionary death by which he took upon himself the sins of the world and bore their legal penalty [Romans 5:6-8; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 2:9]. His death is the means by which forgiveness of sins is obtained [Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 2:13b-14] and by which people are set free forever from the law, sin, death trilogy of condemnation [Romans 5:12-7:6; 1 Corinthians 15:54b-57]. His death is the means by which God reconciles people to himself [Colossians 1:20-22]. His death is the disempowerment of the one who holds the power of death [John 12:30,31; Colossians 2:15; Hebrews 2:14].

The death of Jesus Christ was far more than just another human death. It was far more than a physical thing. Over the death of Jesus Christ hung several massive questions:

Will death prove this man perfect, or is he a sinner who, from the perspective of God, is paying the death penalty for his own sins of which the greatest were his claims to equality with God? [Ezekiel 18:20a; Romans 6:23; John 5:17,18; 10:30-33]

If he is perfect, can he legally take upon himself the sins of the world and legally bear their full penalty so that penalty will never again have to be paid by those to whom his substitution is credited, and so that all accusation is removed forever from both them and this Substitute?

Does this person who deliberately embraced death [John 10:17-18] actually have the authority over death and the power of life that he claimed? [John 11:25,26].

Does this person who is dying have the authority and the power to overcome the one who has the power of death, the devil? [Hebrews 2:14]

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is thus far more than a restoration of physical life. It is a pivotal event on which both the validity of Christ's statements about his identity and the validity of his substitutionary death depend.

By his resurrection Jesus Christ is validated as sinless, for death has no hold on a sinless person. In this demonstration of his sinlessness, all of the charges of blasphemy against him are proved invalid, and it becomes evident that he is indeed the One he claimed to be, the Son of God the Father, equal to him in all respects. [Romans 1:4].

By his resurrection the legality and acceptability of Jesus Christ's substitutionary death is confirmed and the salvation package he obtained through his death guaranteed [1 Corinthians 15:17].

By his resurrection his disempowerment of all that held humans spiritually captive is demonstrated.

The power of God that brought all of this about is the power that Paul prays we will understand, because it this same power that wrought and implemented our individual, personal salvation.

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2006, 2011.