The Resurrection of Christ.
At Easter we are reminded that the historical reality of Jesus' resurrection is of first importance (1 Cor. 15:1-8). However, it is also important to understand how Jesus' resurrection is of first importance theologically.
To consider a few of the more theological ways that Jesus' resurrection is significant for life today, let's focus on Jesus' role as the last Adam: "So it is written: The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam became a life-giving Spirit" (1 Cor. 15:45), in contrast to the first Adam in Scripture.
1. The resurrection of Jesus proves His perfect obedience.
First look to Jesus himself. Jesus' resurrection is the vindication of His complete and perfect obedience.
Jesus' obedience stands in contrast to Adam's disobedience. Though Adam was created upright, he sinned by eating the forbidden fruit. Adam's lack of perfect obedience resulted in the universal spread of death. Jesus, on the other hand, never committed a sin of commission or omission at any point in His life. He always loved God and neighbor perfectly.
One place we see the contrast between Jesus and Adam is in the temptation account in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 4:1-13). Though Jesus' obedience is indeed a model for us, we do well to consider how Jesus' perfect obedience in the wilderness is a unique event in the accomplishment of salvation. In fact, just before the temptation Luke gives a genealogy that traces Jesus back to "son of Adam, son of God" (Luke 3:38). This sets us up to understand the temptation that follows as the obedience of the last Adam that overcomes the sin of the first Adam.
In light of Jesus' wide-ranging obedience in the Gospels, we need not think of the resurrection narratives as mere "appendixes" to the Gospels, as if the story of Jesus would be just as powerful were it to end with his death. By no means! Were Jesus to have decayed in the grave, He would have failed to deliver on His promises. His enemies would have won. Instead, the resurrection vindicates Jesus' life and ministry, and guarantees that His kingdom will endure.
In other words, sin had no power to keep Jesus in the grave because sin had no claim on Him. The resurrection is the declaration of the perfect obedience of Jesus. This has practical implications for us as well.
2. The resurrection of Jesus ensures our justification.
The good news of Jesus' resurrection for us is that all who put their faith in Christ share in His resurrection victory.
First, the Apostle Paul explains that Jesus was "delivered up for our trespasses, and raised for our justification" (Rom. 4:25, HCSB). This means that those with faith in Christ are delivered from sin because of Jesus' victory over sin in His resurrection.
Second, this also means that Jesus' bodily resurrection is the pattern and guarantee for our own bodily resurrections. Paul explains that Jesus' resurrection as a man is the answer to the death introduced by the first man (1 Cor. 15:20-24). And, since Jesus' resurrection is the "firstfruits" (1 Cor. 15:23), all those with faith in Christ will share in the resurrection harvest unto eternal life, with the promise that death itself will be destroyed (1 Cor. 15:25-28). Death therefore has no claim for those who are united by faith to the victorious, resurrected Lord.
3. The resurrection of Jesus marks His transition from humility to glory.
As the one who has defeated death in the flesh, Jesus' sonship enters a new phase with His resurrection, when He is declared to be "Son of God in power" (Rom. 1:4, ESV). No longer is Jesus the suffering Son of Man with nowhere to lay his head (Matt. 8:20); now Jesus is the resurrected Lord with all authority in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18). Several implications of Jesus' resurrection authority affect us.
First, Jesus can deliver on His promise of eternal life, since He is ushering in an eternal kingdom of righteousness-a kingdom in which sin has no reign. Whereas sin and death were introduced through the first Adam, righteousness and life come through the last Adam.
Second, in contrast to Adam, Jesus has the authority to grant the Holy Spirit. We see this in 1 Corinthians 15:45 ("the last Adam became a life-giving Spirit" [HCSB]), where the Spirit is associated with the power to give life.
Third, as resurrected Lord, Jesus will return. A dead Savior would be no Savior at all. But because Jesus lives, His people can look forward to His return as a day of mercy (Jude 21).
There is much more to be said about the resurrection of Jesus; we have only begun to scratch the surface. Take the opportunity during each Easter season to reflect on the practical implications of Jesus' resurrection, and thank God for sending His Son as the last Adam, who is truly the last best hope of man on earth.