Before we come to the examination of what Scripture teaches as to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, it will be helpful to investigate these few questions: Who is it that could rise from the dead? What kind of life was it that deserved such a distinction? What kind of death would be worthy of resurrection?
The Person of the Lord Jesus Christ
There must be something arrestingly special in the person of our Lord, seeing His death and resurrection carry with them such far-reaching results. The apostle John, in his wonderful Gospel, presents Christ as the only begotten Son of God—One eternally with the Father and the Holy Spirit in the unity of the Godhead. Scripture declares that He always was the eternal Word, and that "the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1). And this divine Person became Man. We read these amazing words: "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth" (John 1:14).
With such a Person before us, everything relating to Him is lifted far above that which marks the greatest and wisest of men. We are then not surprised that He was characterized by actions perfectly unique to Himself, and by events quite unlike those which happen to mere men.
The Character of Our Lord's Life
Why did the eternal Son of God become man? It was because by man sin entered the world, and death by sin (Romans 5:18). Therefore the penalty of sin must be met by man in order to give a holy God a righteous basis for offering forgiveness of sins and eternal life to guilty men. What man was sufficient for this? It is evident that the one who could do this must himself be perfectly sinless, one upon whom death had no claim. And who could fulfill that condition? Look at the billions of the human race. Is there one untainted by sin? All are sinners. All need a Saviour.
Only one could come forward, and this was the sinless One, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Eternal Son of the Father. He alone could say, "Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God" (Hebrews 10:7). This is why our Lord became man, yet never ceased to be the eternal Son in the unity of the Godhead with the Father and the Holy Spirit.
With delight we follow the record of His blameless, spotless life as man on this earth. He was perfectly sinless in thought, word and deed. He never apologized for anything He said or did, for there was never the slightest occasion for His doing so. In fullest measure He always did His Father's will. Here was One, the likes of whom before or since the world has never seen. He was "God manifest in the flesh" (1 Timothy 3:16).
The Character of Our Lord's Death
And yet it was not His holy, blameless life that could save men from the penalty of their sins. True, if He had not been sinless, He could not have been the sinner's Saviour, yet Scripture teaches us that it is not His life that saves, but His atoning death, and that alone. Scripture lays great emphasis on our Lord's death. "The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:7).
All the righteous judgment of God against sin was poured out on the holy Person of our Lord Jesus Christ as He hung upon the Cross of Calvary. There and only there did mercy and truth meet; there and only there did righteousness and peace kiss each other (Psalm 85:10). There only could be heard the triumphant cry, "It is finished" (John 19:30).
God can now righteously and gloriously forgive any sinner who truly puts his trust in the Saviour, who "once suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God" (1 Peter 3:18). We miss the whole point of the Scriptures if we fail to realize that our Lord's death was absolutely unique, that no one has ever died a death like His, that no other person could experience such a death, for it was an atoning, sacrificial death, absolutely necessary for man's salvation. May these few thoughts as to the Person who rose from the dead lead the reader to a fuller understanding of the significance of His resurrection.