What does Jesus’ resurrection mean for you?
Notice I didn’t ask, “What does it mean to you.” That would be too subjective. When we talk about the resurrection of Jesus, we are talking about a real, historical event with eternal implications. So we ask, “What does Jesus’ resurrection mean for you?” Because it does impact us personally.
The significance of Jesus’ resurrection lies, first of all, in the actual historical event. If it didn’t actually happen, then there’s no sense talking about it. It would be meaningless. But if it actually happened, then it is also worth searching the Scriptures to learn what it means for us both now and into eternity.
So what does Jesus’ resurrection mean for you? I want to consider two very similar passages with slightly different nuances. First, Romans 6:3-5:
3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 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.
And then Colossians 2:11-12:
11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.
Both passages teach us what happened in baptism—we were buried with Christ. By the way, both passages speak of this, not as a symbol, but as a reality.
Both passages also speak of a connection between baptism and our resurrection with Christ. But one of them (Col. 2:12) speaks of it as a past event, while the other (Rom. 6:5) speaks of it as a future event. So which is it? Have I already been raised with Christ, or am I still waiting for it?
The answer is, yes. Baptized believers experience two resurrections.
The first resurrection happens in baptism. You were raised to a new spiritual life in Christ. This is God’s gift. This is how we experience peace and joy as Christians. And this also has ethical implications for us. Since we have been raised, and we possess this new nature, God calls us to “walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4). Baptism actually creates a new spirit that delights to love God and our neighbors. This is a gift of God that strengthens us for good works, and even gives us joy in serving. But since the old sinful nature continues to cling to us, the life of a Christian is always a battle between these two natures. So Paul reminds us of our baptisms. That is, he reminds us who we are in Christ, and he instructs us to live accordingly.
And then he also reminds us what baptism means for our futures. We are still looking forward to the second resurrection. Baptism is a guarantee that just as we have died with Christ, we will also live with him. Christ will return. He will raise the dead. And we will be transformed in body and soul into his perfect image. On that Day every battle will be ended. Our battle between the old and new natures will be over. Our battle with death will be over. Satan will be vanquished forever. Christ has already won the victory on the cross. He has given us a foretaste in baptism. And we will experience the whole thing at his return. Come quickly, Lord Jesus.
The peace of Christ be with you all,