When Jesus went to the cross, it marked the lowest point in world history. From his disciples’ point of view, the unthinkable had occurred, their Messiah had failed. The question that John’s disciples had asked, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another” (Matthew 11:3 ESV) must have seemed quite prescient. The darkness that covered the earth must have been felt in every heart that believed in this great man.
What seemed like defeat from a human perspective was truly God’s greatest victory. The cross was the fulfillment of prophecy (see Genesis 3:15). While it seemed like Satan had delivered the death blow, it was God’s plan all along (see Revelation 13:8 MLV, YLT), and Jesus always possessed the power to offer up or withhold his life (John 10:17, 18). Like the mystery of the unity of the Jew and Gentile prophesied in the Old Testament, this victory was not seen by man until God revealed it in the resurrection.
While the cross is the substance of salvation, the resurrection is the proof of God’s power to save. We were dead in sin, but through God’s power — which he demonstrated by raising Jesus from the dead — we can be made alive together with him, and thus be forgiven of our sins (Colossians 2:12-13).
The power of the resurrection should permeate the entirety of a disciple’s life. For not only can we trust in the power of God to forgive us, but we can trust in the power of God to resurrect our feeble bodies and elevate us to glorious heights in eternity. The sin of Adam brought distress, despondency, and death to this world. But the resurrection of Christ promises deliverance from this present state of despair (1 Corinthians 15:21, 22).
If death is to be abolished, if perfected life eternal is promised through the resurrection, should that not influence how we view this pain-filled life? Life is a gift from God and we should not presume to throw it away; separation from those we love is extraordinarily painful, but God has given us the ultimate victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! Herein is both a lesson and a gift from our Lord: his physical death opened up the pathway for our eternal life.
This world is fleeting; all the debates, all the disagreements, all the disputes over dirt are ephemeral. Heaven is eternal. One day this perishable will put on the imperishable. One day this immortal will put on immortality. One day the saying, “Death is swallowed up in victory,” will be reality. Let us live this life in the light of the power of the resurrection.