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God Raised Jesus Christ From the Dead

John Piper

Everybody knew he was dead, from the governor to the executing soldiers to the women who buried him to the adversaries who feared a conspiracy of resurrection rumor. They all knew he was dead. That is why the fabrication concocted to explain the empty tomb was not that he wasn't really dead, but that the disciples stole the body. But it didn't work, because people don't risk their lives for a self-made falsehood. The body was not in the tomb, otherwise the enemies would have put a stop to Christianity with Jesus' remains. The disciples were ablaze with boldness, risking their lives by preaching that Jesus was alive. And for forty days Jesus was appearing to individuals and groups, some as large as five hundred.

Tremendous divine power preceded, accompanied, and followed the resurrection of Jesus. Leading up to his resurrection Jesus was utterly in charge of his living and dying. "I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again" (John 10:17-18). Jesus scoffed at threats that he could be brought to death before his hour, much less that he could be held in the tomb beyond his own will. When warned that Herod wanted to kill him, Jesus said, "Go and tell that fox, 'Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I reach My goal'" (Luke 13:32). He predicted the details of his death and resurrection as one who was following his own unstoppable plan: "Jesus said to them, 'The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men; and they will kill Him, and He will be raised on the third day'" (Matthew 17:22-23).

In the very act of resurrection, divine power held complete sway: Paul referred to "the working of the strength of [God's] might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead" (Ephesians 1:19-20). And Peter said, "It was impossible for Him to be held in [death's] power" (Acts 2:24).

Coming through death with sovereign power, Christ entered into an imperishable, never-ending life. Jesus has become an ever-living High Priest "according to the power of an indestructible life" (Hebrews 7:16). "Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him" (Romans 6:9). "God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name" (Philippians 2:9). "[God] raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory" (1 Peter 1:21). Before, during, and afterwards, the resurrection of Jesus was a glorious manifestation of divine power.

Therefore the resurrection of Jesus assures all his future work on behalf of his people: his authority and rule over everything in the universe; his priestly intercession on our behalf; his advocacy with God the Father; his protecting, comforting presence with us to the end of the age; and his final coming to earth in glory to give rest to us and retribution to all who "do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus" (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).

Jesus obtains blessings for us by his death.

And the resurrection of Jesus therefore secures all the blessings he obtained for us in his death. The Resurrection seals the certainty of our justification by faith. "[Jesus] was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification" (Romans 4:25). All the promises of God, purchased by the blood of Christ, become ours in everlasting perpetuity because of the resurrection of Jesus. Forgiveness, for example: "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins" (1 Corinthians 15:17). But he has been raised, and so forgiveness is real and permanent. "He always lives to make intercession for [us]" (Hebrews 7:25).

In the end, the risen Christ will raise us up with him. "If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you" (Romans 8:11). "If we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection" (Romans 6:5). Just as Jesus took back his own life from the fangs of death, so he will raise from the dead those who are his. He makes this promise for everyone who believes: "I Myself will raise him up on the last day" (John 6:40). Thus his resurrection guarantees theirs. They are secure in glory as he is. "They cannot even die anymore . . . being sons of the resurrection" (Luke 20:36).

The glory of Christ in the power of his resurrection to invincible life and omnipotent authority will be reflected back to him in the joyful worship of his risen and perfected saints. Who shall enjoy this eternal gift of life? Jesus answers: "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me . . . will never die" (John 11:25-26).

Like every historical fact, the resurrection of Jesus can be doubted. But when God takes in hand the reliability of the witnesses, the courage of their preaching, the futility of the opposition, the effects of the gospel, the coherence of the message, the all-embracing sufficiency of the Christian worldview, and the spiritual glory of Jesus Christ-when God takes all this and more in hand, he is able to open the mind of the most resistant skeptic. When God wakens us from the stupor of unbelief and shines into our mind with "the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:4, 6), what we see, along with the terrible splendor of his suffering, is the grandeur of his resurrection.

Permission kindly granted to Faith & Reason Forum by Crossway Books. Excerpted from Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ by John Piper. ©2001 Crossway Books.