“Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him”Romans 6:8
God says to Noah in Genesis 8:22, “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease.” As we know, spring has come. Spring is a season that brings joy to countless people around the world; maybe it’s the warmer weather or the longer days. One of my favorite parts of spring is seeing new life in the vegetation: how the grass begins to turn green; how the trees bud and produce vibrant green leaves, and how the first flowers begin to sprout up out of the ground and bloom. There is so much new life that spring brings. But have we ever considered that this dramatic display of new life wouldn’t occur without the death and decay of the previous season? New life can only take place after something has died. Jesus also used nature to illustrate this truth. He says in John 12:24, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.” The grain sacrifices itself and dies so that new life can grow and sprout up out of it, which will bear more seeds.
Jesus used this illustration to explain to His listeners what would soon happen to Him. He knew that His death was approaching. He says in the verse prior, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified” (John 12:23). Jesus wanted His followers to know that He would soon have to give His life. Why? So that we can live in Him. According to the Bible, all people who have not experienced Christ’s forgiveness have sin in their hearts, and there is nothing that we can do to remove these sins on our own. That is why Jesus came to earth. Jesus, God’s only Son, left His heavenly throne, became man, experienced everything we experience, yet remained perfect without ever sinning. Because He was perfect, God considered Him to be an acceptable offering on our behalf. Someone needed to be punished for mankind’s sins. Because of His great love for us, Jesus willingly took our sins upon Himself and carried them to the cross of Calvary. There, Christ died for every person, for you and for me.
After His death, two of His friends (Joseph and Nicodemus), took His body from the cross, prepared it for burial, and laid it in a tomb. But, praise God, Jesus did not remain in that tomb! On the morning of the third day, the tomb was open, and Jesus was gone. He arose; and because He lives, He can grant eternal life to all those who believe in Him and accept His salvation. His resurrection illustrates what we heard earlier, that from death comes life. When a seed is buried, it gives its life so that new life can grow out of it.
Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we can partake of His life and be saved from our eternal punishment. Jesus says in John 3:16-17, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” To receive this life in Christ, we must first recognize our need for a Savior: that if we have sin in our hearts, we cannot have fellowship with God and will be punished for all eternity. After realizing this, we can bring our sins to God and ask Him to forgive our sins through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who died for all those who believe in Him. In one sense, we need to crucify ourselves with Christ. The apostle Paul writes in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” The gift of salvation transforms us into new creations who are alive in Christ.
Jesus’ resurrection not only allows us to receive new life through salvation, but it is also the firstfruit of the Final Resurrection when the Lord returns. In John 11, the Bible tells us how Jesus brought Lazarus back from the dead. However, before He did this, He told Martha (Lazarus’ sister): “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live” (verse 25). Scripture teaches that on the Final Day, when Jesus returns, all those who have died will be resurrected and brought before Him. Paul explains in 1 Thessalonians 4:14-16, “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep [have died] in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep [dead]. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.”
Some people say that they believe in Jesus but don’t believe He arose from the grave. However, without Jesus’ resurrection there is no salvation from sin. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:14, “And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.” Paul continues in verse 20, “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” Jesus’ resurrection is a promise to us that He will come again and do the same to our physical bodies so that we may enjoy eternal life with Him.