"Our God, He Is Alive!"
Now I make known not you, brethren, the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye received, wherein also ye stand, by which also ye are saved, if ye hold fast the word which I preached not you, except ye believed in vain. For I delivered unit you first of all that which also I received: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried; and that he hath been raised on the third day according to the scriptures.
1 Corinthians 15.1-4
The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the foundation of salvation. Paul wrote, “If Christ hath not been raised, your faith is in vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also that are fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have only hoped in Christ in this life, we are of all men most pitiable” (1 Corinthians 15.17-19). Our hope is hope-less without a risen Christ. Truly, “Our God, he is alive!”
The resurrection was purposed in eternity. Peter affirmed through inspiration of the Holy Spirit that it was impossible for Jesus to be held in death’s power (Acts 2.24). The impossibility was due to the fact that God purposed it from eternity and God does not lie (Hebrews 6.17-18). Paul likewise preached that God “saved us, and called us with a holy calling…according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before times eternal” (2 Timothy 1.9-10).
The many eyewitnesses who witnessed Jesus’ resurrection also testified that the resurrection was God’s own doing in accordance with the promise of eternal life from eternity (Titus 1.1-2; cf. Acts 3.15; 4.10; 5.20; 10.40). The “holy and sure blessings of David” foreordained by God through Christ exist because of the resurrection (Acts 13.34). Reconciliation and salvation were purposed from God through Christ (Romans 5.10). Jesus had to die in order for us to be reconciled to God. Yet, if God did not raise him, there would be no victory over Satan. God had purposed for Satan’s head to be bruised (Genesis 3.15). In Christ’s resurrection, Satan’s power over death was destroyed (Hebrews 2.14-15).
It is clear that Jesus’ resurrection was as necessary for our salvation as his death was. The apostle Paul wrote, “But he whom God raised up saw no corruption. Be it known unto you therefore, brethren, that through this man is proclaimed unto you remission of sins: and by him every one that believeth is justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses” (Acts 13.37-39). “For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living” (Romans 14.9). Christians remind one another of the spiritual blessings of Jesus’ death and resurrection in singing: “I serve a risen Savior,” “Because he lives, I can face tomorrow,” “Up from the grave he arose…and he lives forever, death he overcame.”
But what about Jesus’ burial? It also has significance. Remember Paul wrote, “…and that he was buried” (1 Corinthians 15.4a). Paul explains later in this chapter, “…that which thyself sowest is not quickened except it die: and that which you sowest, thou sowest not the body that shall be” (1 Corinthians 15.36-37a). From nature we learn that something doesn’t grow unless it dies; we don’t bury what is alive, only what is dead. Paul used this physical illustration to explain the resurrection: “It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: it is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body” (1 Corinthians 15.42-44a). The body that will be raised is not the body that was sown.
There is significance in the burial of Jesus. He was buried out of necessity. The manner of Jesus’ burial helps us to understand the process of conversion. This is seen from Romans 6.2-6. In conversion, we must cease continuing in sin (i.e., we must die to it). Jesus died for our sins; we are to die to our sins (1 Peter 2.24). This dying to our sins is in repentance. The old man of sin is crucified in repentance. Having died for our sin, Jesus was buried. In our conversion, having died to sin, we are to be buried in the likeness of Jesus’ death. This is the purpose for immersion in water. The old man is then buried, not the new man (see 1 Corinthians 15.36-37a above).
Jesus taught, “Except a grain of wheat fall into the earth and die, it abideth by itself alone; but if it die, it beareth much fruit” (John 12.24). Seed must fall into the earth (i.e., be buried) in order to bear fruit. This is why Jesus’ burial was necessary.
“Our God, he is alive!” Because he lives, we have a new reason to live. Paul stated it this way: “He died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Corinthians 5.15).