Preaching the Resurrection
The Church of Jesus Christ is founded upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ; indeed, it is our Lord’s resurrection that makes his crucifixion efficacious for us, for without it, he remains in the grave and his death is that of another martyr, not of the God-man. And it was the resurrection of Jesus Christ that the apostles preached. I say this because contemporary preaching seems to place the emphasis upon his crucifixion. Evangelistic tracts speak of his blood which was shed for our sins, all of which is true. But how often do we forget to mention that part of the gospel which the apostles thought was central to it: That Jesus Christ rose from the grave! No resurrection, no gospel, no salvation, and we are yet in our sins in which we shall die (1 Corinthians 15:17). And so the Apostle Peter, in his first sermon recorded in Acts, places our Lord’s resurrection front and center. He is going to tie together the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples, which the people are witnessing, to the resurrection of Jesus. Indeed, Peter uses it to prove that Jesus is the Christ.
Having explained the miracle of the various languages the disciples were speaking without prior knowledge as the sign of the Spirit’s descent and the promise of the gospel’s gathering in of the nations, Peter continues his sermon referring to the one who, with the Father, sends the Spirit – Jesus Christ. Peter preaches with authority rehearsing the account that the people already know: Jesus of Nazareth, a righteous man, a man approved of God by mighty works which God did through him, was given over to lawless men to be crucified. But Peter then adds this one important point: This was all done “according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God.” That’s right. This was no accident; it was planned in eternity. And what’s more, according to that definite plan, “God raised him up … because it was not possible for him to be held by it.” And why was it impossible for death to hold him? Because as God, death naturally cannot hold him; and as man, he was and ever remains the sinless one, and death is a result of human sin (Genesis 2:17). Thus, the grave had to give him up, as was only fair. And as the sinless one who conquered the grave, he does so, on our behalf. Christ had no reason to conquer death on his behalf, since, as God, he was immune to it. What he did in the body, he did for us as the one who assumed our nature. And as it was impossible for death to hold him, so shall it be impossible for death to hold us. He has taken away our sins through his blood and justified us by his resurrection (Romans 4:25). And as the one who took our place, he has, not the obligation mind you, but certainly the right, to proclaim us, “Redeemed!” And so every Sunday is Easter Sunday!