Required Resurrection

The resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day had to take place! “He must …be raised.” No less than His suffering and death, the stupendous victory of Jesus over the grave was a divine necessity. But why?Jesus had to come out of the tomb on the third day because, as God’s prophet, He had foretold this reversal of death. Not only, here, or on the two other occasions when Jesus warned His disciples of impending events (Matthew 17:22-23; 20:18-19), but twice when He declared to the Jewish leaders that He would give them no other sign of His authority than that of the prophet Jonah (12:39-40; 16:4). As Jonah had been in the belly of the great fish three days, so the Son of Man would be [only] three days in the depths of the earth. Unless Jesus was to rise from the dead before the general resurrection in which most Jews believed, many of His promises make no sense, such as His guarantee that those who confess their faith in Him before men will be acknowledged by Him before God (10:32). He will reward “each according to his works” (16:47), granting them eternal life and a share in His rule when He “sits on His throne of glory” (19:28-29; 25:34, 46 Likewise, His numerous warnings of final judgment assume are based on the certainty of His resurrection (7:21-23; 13:41-42; 25:31-46). Furthermore, how could He speak of His “coming” again from heaven if He did not intend first to “go” to heaven by rising from the dead (24:27,30, 39, 44; 25:13,19, 31; 26:64)? As the Son of David, and yet greater than David, He is heir to the promises of a heavenly throne made to Israel’s king (22:43-45). As Peter would later explain, the prophetic Psalms that spoke of the King’s victory over death must point to Jesus (Acts 2:25-32). What “Gospel of the kingdom” could be preached to all the nations if the main subject of that message was to lie rotting in a grave? (24:14; 26:13; 28:19). Only if “all authority in heaven and earth” had been given to the risen Christ could He send His ambassadors to proclaim “repentance and forgiveness of sins in His name to all nations” (Luke 24:47). Indeed, the resurrection of Jesus shortly after His death forms an essential element of the Gospel of Matthew from the very beginning: Jesus is not only fully human, but was “conceived by the Holy Spirit” (1:20). He is “Immanuel, God with us,” and God cannot be held by the chains of death (1:23). He came to save His people from their sins – the penalty, power, and finally the presence of our inborn iniquity – which He could only accomplish by a sacrificial death and a triumphant resurrection (1:21) In short, the resurrection of Jesus was grounded in God’s eternal will for us.