In my understanding of the cost of sin, and the necessity of a perfect sacrifice to pay for that sin (versus the other option, which would be for me – as a sinner – having to die for my own sins), I can understand why Jesus – after living a perfect life – had to die in order for humankind to be saved.
However, it perplexed me for a long time why it was so important for Jesus to be raised from the dead. Don’t get me wrong, I thought that it was certainly a good thing; I just didn’t understand why it was necessary – wasn’t his sacrifice enough? Shouldn’t we first celebrate His sacrifice (as being of highest importance), and then celebrate that He was raised back to life to live with us forever?
If you have discovered a simple answer to this question, I welcome your insight via an e-mail or in the comments below. For now, here is what I have found from my own searching of the Scriptures.
First, God had established numerous prophecies, explaining who the Messiah – the promised one that was coming to save people – would be. There were other people who claimed to be the Messiah, but only Jesus met all of the criteria, including being raised from the dead. While there are multiple references in the scriptures to things happening on the “third day” specifically, see this particular one from Hosea:
“He will revive us after two days;
He will raise us up on the third day,
That we may live before Him.
Hosea 6:2 NASB
Secondly, Jesus had promised that this would happen. I suppose that He wouldn’t have had to, but He chose to put these promises out there, where they could be tested empirically.
Jesus warned his disciples not to tell anyone who he was. “The Son of Man must suffer many terrible things,” he said. “He will be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He will be killed, but on the third day he will be raised from the dead.”
Luke 9:21-22 NLT
For the rest of Jesus’ words to be believed – for Him to be a perfect (sinless) sacrifice – He would have had to be shown to always tell the truth. God raising Jesus from the dead confirmed that even these seemingly-impossible things that Jesus said were also quite true.
Centuries earlier, the Israelite people had been told to verify what prophets said, with this simple test:
“But you may wonder, ‘How will we know whether or not a prophecy is from the LORD?’ If the prophet speaks in the LORD’s name but his prediction does not happen or come true, you will know that the LORD did not give that message. That prophet has spoken without my authority and need not be feared.
Deuteronomy 18:21-22 NLT
Thirdly, Jesus’ appearances, ministry, and works after His resurrection gave the ultimate proof that He was the Messiah. (In fact, Jesus continues to work in the lives of His followers today, and this ministry continues.) It also proved that God’s power exceeded that of death, which had enslaved mankind for millennia (admittedly, because we had all sinned and messed things up).
This proof gives us hope for our own resurrection, when Jesus comes back (still quite alive, and still the Savior).
Finally, Jesus had a purpose after His death. He didn’t just come to earth to save us; He continues to help us, advocating for us with God the Father.
Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.
Romans 8:33-34 NLT
He didn’t just pay for our sins and “retire” to Heaven. He is actively defending us in the throne room of God. Even though we don’t see Him walking the earth with us today, He is still working on our behalf (not to mention the eternal home He is preparing for us – see John 14:1-3).
Regardless of whether you agree with my reasoning – that Jesus had to be raised from the dead because of prophecy, promises, proof, and purpose – the fact is that He has been raised from the dead. He fulfilled countless prophecies, kept His promises, and provided proof that He is Lord. Now, He continues His purpose on behalf of us. He loves every single human being, regardless of our choices, and wants each of us to choose to follow Him.
Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
and gave him the name above all other names,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:9-11 NLT
If you haven’t accepted His sacrifice and chosen to follow Him, today is a great day to become part of the salvation that was prophesied, reap the benefits of eternal life that was promised, accept the proof of Jesus’ ministry, and share in the purpose for which God created each of us.
If you have any questions about this, just let me know – through the contact form, or in the comments below.