Thinking about Easter, I was reflecting on the words of the modern worship song “The Cross has said it all” by Matt Redman, and couldn’t help but think that the cross has not said it all, if so it would be a very sad day indeed – Good Friday would just be another Friday, there would be no light, only darkness; no life, just death; no hope, just hopelessness, as Paul says, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still dead in your sins, and those who have already fallen asleep in Christ have perished.” 1 Cor. 15:17-19.
It is not the cross but the resurrection and following that the ascension that says it all, they round the circle, complete the story. Paul makes this abundantly clear in his letter to the Romans, Christ “was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification,” or better, “raised because of our justification” (Romans 4:25). Whichever way it is read the resurrection is vitally important.
The Scotsman Horatius Bonar, a preacher, pastor, writer and hymn writer of a bygone day (1800’s) states it this way, “He rose not in order to justify us, but becuase we were justified. In raising him from the dead, God the Father cleared him form the imputed guilt which had nailed him to the cross and borne him down to the tomb. That resurrection in which we are one with him does not justify us, but proclaims that we were justified – justified by his blood and death.” Wow!
It’s not the cross that says it all, but the empty tomb, the resurrection – something fundamental happened at the cross and in the grave, God’s justice was wholly met and satisfied in Christ’s death, the price had been paid, the debt had been cleared, and death could not keep it’s prey!
- His death was more than a display of love (the resurrection wouldn’t be necessary)
- His death was more than a mere influence (the resurrection not essential)
- His death was more than a victory over all that was against us thus setting us free (the resurrection helps us do better)
- His death was a sacrifice, an atonement for all our sin (the resurrection is vitally essential as we have briefly set out).
Because justification had taken place, Jesus rose again.
At the cross we were not bailed while we wait for character references to be gathered and a better case built in the hope of a good verdict when we finally appear before God, NO, a thousand times NO, this was it, this is the Gospel, and what makes it the GOOD NEWS, the price was fully paid for all our sin, and the verdict has been pronounced once and for all for those who will believe, yes simply believe in Jesus and what he’s done – JUSTIFIED! NO CONDEMNATION! FOREVER!