The Canadian Red Ensign

The Canadian Red Ensign

Sunday, April 17, 2022

The Most Powerful and Meaningful Event in all of History

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the best attested event of history.   There are numerous examples of individuals who set out to debunk Christianity but ended up as believers when confronted by the overwhelming evidence for the Resurrection.  Arguably St. Paul was the first of these, although the manner in which he set about the debunking as well as that in which he was confronted by the evidence are not exactly typical of all the others who come to mind.   It is attested by the Empty Tomb, the numerous eyewitnesses, and the transformed lives of those who like Saul of Tarsus encountered the Risen Christ and were never the same again.   Jesus, from the beginning of His earthly ministry when He cryptically alluded to it by saying that He would rebuild the Temple in three days in response to those who confronted Him after the first cleansing of the Temple in the second chapter of St. John's Gospel to His referring the Pharisees to the "sign of Jonah" much later in His ministry, pointed to the Resurrection as the only sign that those who demanded one of Him - Who had been performing miracles all around them - would receive.   He knew how well attested it would be and based the credibility of all of His claims upon it.

It is an event that the New Testament attributes to each of the Persons of the Holy Trinity.   When He said that He would rebuild the Temple in three days, of course, Jesus claimed it as His Own work, as He did on a later occasion where He said He had the power both to lay down His life and take it up again (Jn. 10:18).    In the sermons recorded in the Book of Acts the Resurrection is usually attributed to God the Father.   In the epistles the Holy Spirit is often said to be the Agent in the Resurrection.    All of these are true and this demonstrates the involvement of all Three Persons in this event.  This was also true of the original Creation of the world.   This is unlikely to be a coincidence.   In numerous passages Jesus is called the first fruits of the General Resurrection.   Since the latter event is connected with the aspect of Redemption in which the whole world is recreated anew the active involvement of the Three Persons in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is parallel to their active involvement in Creation.

This is far from being the only meaning ascribed to the Resurrection in the New Testament.   In addition to being the most attested event in history, it is the most meaning-packed event in the Bible.

In St. Paul's epistle to the Romans, for example, the first reference to the Resurrection is in his summary of the Gospel in his summation.    In this the Resurrection declares Jesus to be "the Son of God with power" (v. 1:4).   This does not mean that the Resurrection made Jesus the Son of God as some versions of the Adoptionist heresy taught.   Jesus has always been the Son of God, eternally the Son of the Father, as is quite clear in the language used about the Father and Son throughout St. John's Gospel.   What St. Paul was saying corresponds to what Jesus was saying in pointing to the Resurrection as the sign confirming His authority and claims.   It declares Him to be the Son of God with power - it is the visible, incontrovertible, evidence.

A few chapters later in the same epistle, in another brief summary of the Gospel, St. Paul tells us of something else the Resurrection declares - our justification.    This comes at the end of the fourth chapter, a chapter begins with St. Paul borrowing the same terminology and same Old Testament examples that St. James the Just employed in the second chapter of his epistle, generally accepted as the first of the New Testament writings, to make the point that faith cannot produce practical righteousness on its own without works.   Asserting that he was in no way contradicting St. James (Rom. 4:2), St. Paul explains that the justification that he has been discussing, that which is by grace - God's favour freely given rather than earned (vv. 4-5) - on the basis of the redemption and propitiation of Christ on the Cross (3:24-25), and which establishes us in a right standing before God, is not like Jacobean practical righteousness - it is something God has accomplished and given to us, that we are to believe and trust in.   The chapter concludes with this summary of the Gospel: 

Now it was not written for his [Abraham's] sake alone, that it [righteousness] was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. (4:23-25)

Here, as later in the tenth chapter of the epistle, St. Paul gives the Resurrection the full force of the entire Gospel message.    Faith is believing on Him that raised up Jesus, as in the tenth chapter it is believing in your heart that God raised Him from the dead.    In the final verse in the passage we see why the Resurrection can encapsulate the entire Gospel in this way.   Jesus was delivered for our offences, that is to say, it was because of our sins that He went to the Cross and died.   For, in this verse, means "because of" and that is true of the second "for" as well.   Jesus was raised for - because of - our Resurrection.   Had the work not been finished as Jesus declared it to be at His death - had our sin not been paid for in its entirety - the Resurrection could not have occurred.  The Resurrection, therefore, is the proof and declaration of our justification having been completely accomplished by Jesus at the Cross, just as it is the proof and declaration that He is the Eternal Son of God.

Shortly after this, St. Paul provides yet another meaning for the Resurrection.    In explaining why being at peace with God because of His freely given grace does not mean that we are permitted to sin, he discusses the meaning of baptism, the rite in which one formally joins the Christian faith community, the Church.   Being baptized into Jesus Christ means being baptized into His Death (6:3).   This  means that Christ's Death is our own death and as it was to take away our sin that He died we are to reckon ourselves to be dead to sin on account of it.   However, St. Paul immediately adds, if we are joined to Jesus in His Death, we are also joined to Him in His Resurrection.   While one implication of this, which St. Paul expounds upon at length in the fifteenth chapter of I Corinthians, is that we shall all be raised bodily like Christ, in the sixth chapter of Romans another implication of our union with Christ in Resurrection is explored, namely that it is  Christ's Resurrection life that we are to live out by faith as our New Life in Christ.

This is merely a sample of what the New Testament says about the Resurrection and is not intended to be exhaustive, not even of the epistle to the Romans.

What other event in all of Scripture is so packed with powerful significance?

Happy Easter!

He is Risen Indeed!


  1. Happy Easter Gerry.

    Blessings to you and your family.

    Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia!

  2. Alleluia! A very happy Easter to you as well, my friend!