The Meaning of Christ’s Resurrection
Q 50. What does Christ’s resurrection mean for us?
A. Christ triumphed over sin and death by being physically resurrected, so that all who trust in him are raised to new life in this world and to everlasting life in the world to come. Just as we will one day be resurrected, so this world will one day be restored. But those who do not trust in Christ will be raised to everlasting death.
When my paternal grandmother passed away not so long ago, I found myself explaining to my five-year-old daughter our shared experience of grief as well as our secure hope in the Lord Jesus. In the midst of our grieving and pain over the ugly reality of death in this fallen world, we found comfort and encouragement in the truth and power of the Lord’s resurrection. As St. Paul says in one of his letters to the Corinthians, “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” (1 Corinthians 15:19 ESV) Thankfully, we do not only hope in Christ for the here and now. Jesus has indeed risen from the grave, according to the Scriptures! And as the answer to the first question of our catechism reminds us, our only hope in life and death is “that we are now our own but belong, body and soul, both in life and death, to God and to our Savior Jesus Christ.” In the same letter to the Corinthians, speaking of the fact that Christ has been raised from the dead, St. Paul describes Jesus resurrection as “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:20) What this means is that Jesus’s resurrection means that everyone who dies will also one day be raised from the dead—some to everlasting life, and others to everlasting death. Let’s hear the catechism’s teaching on this from question and answer fifty. Question, “What does Christ’s resurrection mean for us?” Answer, “Christ triumphed over sin and death by being physically resurrected, so that all who trust in him are raised to new life in this world and to everlasting life in the world to come. Just as we will one day be resurrected, so this world will one day be restored. But those who do not trust in Christ will be raised to everlasting death.”
Over and against the teachings of dualistic religions and philosophies, Christianity maintains that humans are composed of both bodies and souls, both of which are created by God and are thus important to him. This is what the resurrection of Jesus teaches us. The Lord is not concerned only for our spirits and would desire that those who believe would float to heaven after death to be with him forever. No, his resurrection teaches us that he is concerned both for the spiritual as well as the material. One day, he will return to make all things new. And this includes the material creation as well as our physical bodies. “This world,” the catechism teaches, “will one day be restored.” Our wonderful hope—which the resurrection of Christ secures for us—is that there will be a day of final and general resurrection when everyone who has ever lived and died will be raised from the dead. This truth is important for all of us to grasp. The fact that we will not just die and be buried and forgotten but will one day have to give an account for the life that we lived should cause us to reevaluate the way we live our lives. As the catechism says, Christ has triumphed over sin and death by being physically resurrected. The good news is that everyone who now repents and believes in Jesus will also share in this triumph over sin and death, and also enjoy the hope of one day being “raised to new life in this world and to everlasting life in the world to come.”