Tulip Time in Holland, Michigan and Pella and Orange City, Iowa, are very busy and interesting festivals. But they would mean nothing if what came up from the planting of a tulip bulb was the bulb. A bulb is a very ugly onion-like seed. It is nothing to plan a festival around. What you plant is not what comes up. What comes up is much more beautiful. So it is with the resurrection of the body. The Apostle Paul uses the illustration of grain in I Corinthians 15:36, 37 but he could have used the illustration of a tulip bulb; the same principle is at work.
The resurrection of Christ has great benefits for us. The first is that He has overcome death. Jesus died and was buried, but death could not hold Him. Death did not hold Lazarus, or the widow of Nain’s son or Jairus’ daughter either, but they did not conquer death. Jesus Christ did. He bore our punishment for sin and He paid the wages of sin which is death. He suffered the wrath of God against sin and death. God accepted Christ’s payment and raised Him from the dead. Death is dead! Our Lord Jesus Christ has, through His resurrection, conquered death itself. For those who believe in Him death is no longer death. It is still the shadow of death, but we need fear no evil, for He is with us (Psalm 23:4). The sting of death is gone. The sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law, but thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 15:56).
Where is the sting of sin? It was buried in the side of Jesus Christ! God put it there and Christ took it upon Himself. It is gone. Death for a child of God is conquered! We still must die as a result of sin, but death is now a gateway to heaven. The fear of death is gone! Is it really gone for you, my friend? Remember what Jesus said to Martha: “I am the resurrection and the life. He that believes on me, though he be dead, yet shall he live, and he that lives and believes on me shall never die.” Do you believe this? Think also of Psalm 116:8, 15: “He delivers my soul from death, my eyes from tears and my feet from falling…Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” The Apostle Paul says in Philippians 1:21–23: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two. I desire to depart and to be with Christ, which is better by far.” Those who fall asleep in Jesus close their eyes to wake in the eternal light of glory. What a morning! Your death is conquered by the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The resurrection of Christ also benefits us who are alive. When a conqueror has conquered, there is booty to pass around. The booty Jesus has won by His victory is His righteousness. By faith in Him, we receive His righteousness as our own. We are placed into a new relationship of being right with God by grace alone without any merit of ours. Our guilt is removed and God looks on us as if we had never sinned and as if we had accomplished all the obedience Christ has accomplished for us. He makes us to share in this and experience this as our own. We receive all of this by faith alone. This is the gospel!
Another wonderful benefit we receive from the resurrection of Christ is that our old nature was crucified with Christ and we are raised with Him to a new life (Romans 6:4). Do you remember the demon possessed man from the land of the Gadarenes? Where did he live? In the tombs. He was very fierce and no man could bind him, not even with a chain. And always, night and day in the tombs he would cry out and cut himself with stones. Jesus took pity on him and healed him. Then he sat at Jesus’ feet, clothed and in his right mind (Luke 8:26–39). What a graphic illustration of the contrast between the old life under the domination of the evil one and the new life under the control of the Lord! When Jesus arose, our old life was left in the grave and our new life arose with Him. Is this the life you are now living? Those in Christ are a new creation, the old has passed, the new has come (II Corinthians 5:17).
The fourth benefit of the resurrection of Christ is the guarantee of our blessed resurrection (after justification and sanctification comes glorification). The new life we spoke about earlier is the resurrection of our souls; now we look at the resurrection of our bodies. Our bodies are compared to the seed Paul spoke about in I Corinthians 15:36, 37. At death our body is sown in corruption, to be raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonor, to be raised in glory; it is sown in weakness to be raised in power; and it is sown a physical body to be raised a spiritual body. Jesus’ resurrection is the first fruit of this great harvest. His resurrection is a sure pledge and guarantee of ours. What a gospel! The resurrection of Christ is the foundation of our faith. Without it we have no hope or future. But with it we have life eternal, happiness and joy forever. Praise the Lord for the resurrection of our blessed Savior!