In our last post, we explored what resurrection really is. In the next few posts, we will discover what Jesus’ resurrection really means, and why it matters if we believe it or not.
This first idea that flows out of the resurrection is the foundation for all the other reasons the resurrection is important. The idea is this: the resurrection confirms that Jesus was exactly who he was thought to be, the messiah-king Israel had been waiting for. Israel had been expecting a messiah-who-would-be-king to come and rescue them. Jesus’ resurrection shows that he was this messiah-king that Israel was waiting for.
We see the resurrection as confirmation of Jesus as messiah over and over again in Paul’s writing. We see it maybe most explicitly in Ephesians 1:20-22. Paul is saying that the power we can have is the same power God exerted “when he raised the Messiah from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet…” We know Jesus is the all-powerful Messiah-king because God raised him from the dead and seated him on his heavenly throne. As a result of the resurrection all things, all other powers are put under Jesus’ feet. Death is defeated. Satan and the powers of evil are all beaten. With the resurrection, Jesus is truly Lord over all.
Paul makes this idea foundational to the whole book of Romans, when at the beginning he says that Jesus was “appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus the Messiah, our Lord.”
But why did the people of the New Testament need more confirmation that Jesus was the Messiah-king? Because there had been other messiahs; at least, other would-be messiahs. Remember the story in Acts 5:12 and following.
Peter and the others have been preaching, teaching and performing miracles and the religious and political leaders don’t like it. They don’t know what to do with the apostles to get them to stop talking about Jesus, and they are plotting to perhaps even kill them. Finally, Gamaliel speaks up and says, basically, “Be careful, guys. Don’t draw too much attention. We’ve had other messiahs, and shortly after they were killed, their movements died too. Just leave these people alone. If their movement is of human origin, it will die naturally.” And Gamaliel was right! The proof was in the pudding. Because Jesus was raised, he is the true Messiah, and his movement has never died out.
In light of the resurrection, we read Pilate’s words in John 19:14 differently. Pilate has dressed up Jesus in purple robes-the color of royalty-and given him a crown of thorns. Pilate tells Jesus he has the power to either crucify him or set him free. Jesus tells him he only has the power because it has been given to him from above. Then in verse 14, Pilate says, probably sarcastically, “Here is your ‘king’!”
This is the Good News, sometimes even proclaimed unwittingly by the enemies of God: Here is your king! We have a king. The one we have been waiting for has come and been vindicated. This is the gospel: Jesus is the Messiah, king over all other kings. Powerful over all other powers. Everything else rests on this: Jesus is exactly who he said he was. What we only suspected before the crucifixion is confirmed after the resurrection. This is the Good News: Jesus is King! We have reason to celebrate!