Jesus Is The Firstborn From The Dead

Easter Day! Today we celebrate Christ’s resurrection, the crown of all our joys and the bedrock on which our faith rests. As it is written,

“He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.”

This phrase, “firstborn from the dead,” does not mean that Jesus’ resurrection chronologically preceded all others; indeed, many preludes to the ultimate Resurrection have been recorded in Scripture for our benefit. Elisha breathed life into the body of a young child, and he awoke and was restored to his mother. Ezekiel prophesied to a valley strewn with dry bones, and at God’s command they were clothed with flesh and stood on their feet, a mighty army ready to do His bidding. Jesus Himself raised Lazarus from his tomb of decay and Jairus’ daughter from her deathbed, both by the irresistible power of His divine call.

However, Jesus’ resurrection is preeminent because it surpasses these shadow-examples in every way. Jesus was the first to rise in eternal victory over death:

“We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again;  death no longer has dominion over him.”

All other resurrections were accomplished by the command of another, but Jesus brought Himself back to life by the word of His own unstoppable authority:

“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

“No one takes my life from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.”

And most glorious of all, His resurrection is the wellspring of eternal life for all those who are in Christ:

“For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.”

Those of us who will be raised up at the last day and transformed into His likeness will do so because we are participants in His death and resurrection:

“Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.”

Thank you, Lamb of God who was slain before the foundation of the world, that You alone give life to the dead and call into existence the things that do not exist!

“It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.”

“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

Jesus Gives Us New Bodies

Our bodies are wonderful and amazing creations that bespeak the glory and goodness of God.

“You formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

And yet, because of the curse of sin, our natural bodies are prone to weakness, temptation, and death:

“The spirit is willing but the body is weak.”

“You are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

Is this not vanity of vanities?

“Do you work wonders for the dead? Do the departed rise up to praise you?”

What good can come of death? None apart from Jesus.

“If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.”

But Jesus conquered and redeemed death by transforming it into the gateway to eternal life. When seed is sown, it must die before it can become what it was always meant to be. Furthermore,

“Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.”

But when believers die, they are remade. No longer do they bear the image of the man of dust; no longer are their bodies corruptible, weak, or perishable. They are given a spiritual body, a glorious body that is imperishable, incorruptible, indefatigable, and incapable of sin.

“It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.”

And just as Christ can never die, so will we never die.

“He will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”

Lord, help me to bear with the infirmities and weaknesses of this poor seed in which I live now, and haste the day when I will be forever remade in the true likeness of the man from heaven!

Jesus Cherishes the Death of His Saints

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.”

Just as He who was the resurrection and the life had once to die, so all who have been given eternal life must die as well. For the believer, this death is not eternal, spiritual, ‘second death,’ but rather a fleeting and momentary passing from the mere hope of glory into its supreme realization. Death is the means by which the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality.

But precious in Jesus’ sight is the death of His beloved! He cherishes those moments when those who are His, sensing their immanent departure from this world, open their hearts to Him and embrace Him. He is honored when His people stand against the accusers and confess Him despite caves of lions, fiery furnaces, or scourging whips. He delights to receive souls into heaven that are weary of fighting sin and offer them eternal rest, and He loves to satisfy every longing of the hearts of those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.

The reason we are baptized into His death is so that we will also be united with Him in His resurrection. And when that day comes, the prophetic vision will be fulfilled:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”

“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

Lord, Your death is forever precious in our sight. Thank you for loving us, even unto death!