Do You Know Why Christ Lives?

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Do You Know Why Christ Lives?

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Jesus Christ’s death was crucial to our salvation. Without it, we would all still bear the guilt—and the penalty, eternal death—for our sins. Jesus, however, is not a dead Savior, but a living one. What is the importance of that fact to us?

When Jesus died, Joseph of Arimathea helped place His body in the tomb. “… There was a man named Joseph, a council member, a good and just man. He had not consented to their decision and deed. He was from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who himself was also waiting for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a tomb that was hewn out of the rock, where no one had ever lain before” (Luke 23:50-53 Luke 23:50-53 [50] And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counselor; and he was a good man, and a just: [51] (The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God. [52] This man went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. [53] And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulcher that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid.
American King James Version×
).

Three days and three nights later, just before sunset on the weekly Sabbath, God resurrected Jesus from His grave (see “Does Easter Really Commemorate Jesus Christ’s Resurrection?). Coming to the tomb before dawn the next morning, Mary Magdalene found it empty and beside it an angel who explained that Jesus had been raised from the dead (Matthew 28:1 Matthew 28:1In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher.
American King James Version×
, Matthew 28:5-7 Matthew 28:5-7 [5] And the angel answered and said to the women, Fear not you: for I know that you seek Jesus, which was crucified. [6] He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. [7] And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goes before you into Galilee; there shall you see him: see, I have told you.
American King James Version×
).

Standing before the tomb, Mary lamented the loss of her Master and Teacher. She noticed someone nearby she thought was the gardener and spoke to Him about the body of Jesus: “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away” (John 20:15 John 20:15Jesus said to her, Woman, why weep you? whom seek you? She, supposing him to be the gardener, said to him, Sir, if you have borne him hence, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.
American King James Version×
).

Jesus simply spoke her name. Suddenly she realized who this was—Jesus Himself, alive again! She must have spontaneously tried to hug or grab Him, for He told her: “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God’ ” (John 20:17 John 20:17Jesus said to her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brothers, and say to them, I ascend to my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
American King James Version×
, New International Version).

Later that day Jesus ascended to the Father; He then showed Himself to His apostles, who observed His wounds (John 20:19-20 John 20:19-20 [19] Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the middle, and said to them, Peace be to you. [20] And when he had so said, he showed to them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the LORD.
American King James Version×
). Eight days later He appeared to them again and asked doubting Thomas to come forward and touch Him—to place his hands and fingers on Jesus’ scars and even place his hand in Jesus’ side—so that he would believe Jesus had indeed been resurrected (John 20:26-27 John 20:26-27 [26] And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the middle, and said, Peace be to you. [27] Then said he to Thomas, Reach here your finger, and behold my hands; and reach here your hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.
American King James Version×
).

The resurrection of Jesus was an enduring act of love on the part of the Father. Amazingly, His ascension to and acceptance by the Father was acted out symbolically in an annual ritual known in the Old Testament as the wave-sheaf offering. This harvest metaphor tells us much about the living Christ and His role in God’s plan for the rest of humanity.

Firstfruits of the harvest

Many centuries earlier God had instructed the Israelites to keep His annual Holy Days and festivals (Leviticus 23:1-4 Leviticus 23:1-4 [1] And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, [2] Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts. [3] Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; you shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings. [4] These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which you shall proclaim in their seasons.
American King James Version×
). During one of these festivals, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, God instituted a special ceremony called the wave-sheaf offering (Leviticus 23:10-14 Leviticus 23:10-14 [10] Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, When you be come into the land which I give to you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then you shall bring a sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest: [11] And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it. [12] And you shall offer that day when you wave the sheaf an he lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering to the LORD. [13] And the meat offering thereof shall be two tenth deals of fine flour mingled with oil, an offering made by fire to the LORD for a sweet smell: and the drink offering thereof shall be of wine, the fourth part of an hin. [14] And you shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that you have brought an offering to your God: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
American King James Version×
).

In Israel, before the spring barley harvest could begin, this ceremony was to be conducted on the first day of the week during the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:11 Leviticus 23:11And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.
American King James Version×
). The first sheaf of barley from the spring harvest was cut and given to the priest, who would then wave it before God as a special offering. This sheaf is directly tied to and represents Jesus’ resurrection, His ascension to God’s throne, His acceptance by the Father and our hope for salvation.

It clearly was “of the firstfruits of your harvest” (Leviticus 23:10 Leviticus 23:10Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, When you be come into the land which I give to you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then you shall bring a sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest:
American King James Version×
), the very first part of the crop harvested. Remarkably, this wave-sheaf offering shows Jesus’ role as the firstfruits of the salvation of all mankind.

Notice the apostle Paul’s statement about Christ in 1 Corinthians 15:20 1 Corinthians 15:20But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept.
American King James Version×
: “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (emphasis added throughout). He goes on to explain: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.

But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming” (1 Corinthians 15:22-23 1 Corinthians 15:22-23 [22] For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. [23] But every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.
American King James Version×
).

Notice that Paul uses the term “firstfruits” to describe the relationship of Jesus Christ and His resurrection to that of all the other godly believers who will follow Him in the resurrection at His return. Jesus is the first of many who will be resurrected to immortality just as He was!

Jesus’ sacrifice makes possible the harvesting of all humanity, and His resurrection begins the harvest. Just as the wave-sheaf offering had to be offered before Israel’s spring harvest could begin, so Jesus Himself had to be offered—and accepted by the Father as the only acceptable sacrifice for sin—before God’s harvest of humanity could begin. He thus became “the origin of God’s creation” (Revelation 3:14 Revelation 3:14And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things said the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
American King James Version×
, New Revised Standard Version) and “the author [source and sole agent] of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:9 Hebrews 5:9And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey him;
American King James Version×
).

Jesus taught that God’s plan for harvesting all humanity would begin with Himself. Shortly before His death He told some of His disciples: “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. 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” (John 12:23-24 John 12:23-24 [23] And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. [24] Truly, truly, I say to you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it stays alone: but if it die, it brings forth much fruit.
American King James Version×
). He would have to die and, like a seed, be planted in the ground. But through His death and resurrection, ultimately many others would be given life in their own resurrection from the dead.

No human being could be harvested to salvation until after Jesus was resurrected. Jesus likened salvation for His Church to a grain harvest: “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38 Matthew 9:37-38 [37] Then said he to his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; [38] Pray you therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.
American King James Version×
). We must never forget that the death of Jesus Christ justifies us before God and reconciles us to Him, but we must also remember this: We can only be harvested or saved by His life. Paul makes this very clear: “For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Romans 5:10 Romans 5:10For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
American King James Version×
).

Why Christ must live in us

Christ’s life is of unparalleled importance to all humanity. God accepted His death as the atoning sacrifice to pay the penalty for all of humankind’s sins. But the story doesn’t end there. If we are Jesus’ true followers, God the Father views us as righteous through the living Christ living in us—through the power of God’s Spirit.

This is vital to understand. The Bible tells us that the normal human mind simply cannot obey God in the way that He requires (Romans 8:7 Romans 8:7Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
American King James Version×
). We need spiritual help. And that help to obey comes through the Spirit of God, by which Christ and the Father live within the hearts and minds of true Christians (compare 1 John 5:3 1 John 5:3For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
American King James Version×
; Romans 5:5 Romans 5:5And hope makes not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given to us.
American King James Version×
; John 14:23 John 14:23Jesus answered and said to him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our stayed with him.
American King James Version×
; Ephesians 2:22 Ephesians 2:22In whom you also are built together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
American King James Version×
).

By living in us through that Spirit, Christ assists us in living according to God’s truth in our everyday lives. Paul explains it this way: “Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts” (Romans 6:8-12 Romans 6:8-12 [8] Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: [9] Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dies no more; death has no more dominion over him. [10] For in that he died, he died to sin once: but in that he lives, he lives to God. [11] Likewise reckon you also yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. [12] Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in the lusts thereof.
American King James Version×
).

He expressed this thought in slightly different words in Galatians 2:20 Galatians 2:20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
American King James Version×
: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (King James Version).

In other words, Paul had surrendered his will to that of Jesus Christ, and he saw his life as one in which the living Christ was also living and working mightily within him through the indwelling presence of God’s Spirit (Colossians 1:29 Colossians 1:29 Whereunto I also labor, striving according to his working, which works in me mightily.
American King James Version×
). He did not rely on his meager efforts to obey God on his own, “but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness [obedience] which is of God by faith: that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection …” (Philippians 3:9-10 Philippians 3:9-10 [9] And be found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: [10] That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable to his death;
American King James Version×
, KJV).

Continually serving His saints

King David, in an inspired prophetic psalm, indicates what the Father said to the living Christ at His ascension to the throne of God following His resurrection: “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool’ ” (Psalms 110:1 Psalms 110:1The LORD said to my Lord, Sit you at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.
American King James Version×
).

Christ Jesus is now making intercession for us at the Father’s right hand (Romans 8:34 Romans 8:34Who is he that comdemns? It is Christ that died, yes rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.
American King James Version×
). “Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man” (Hebrews 8:1-2 Hebrews 8:1-2 [1] Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; [2] A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.
American King James Version×
). We can access His help for many needs. Probably none of those needs is more important than our need for help to continue in God’s righteous mind-set and behavior in the face of Satan’s continual assaults and efforts against us (1 Peter 5:8 1 Peter 5:8Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour:
American King James Version×
; Ephesians 6:10-17 Ephesians 6:10-17 [10] Finally, my brothers, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. [11] Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. [12] For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. [13] Why take to you the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. [14] Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; [15] And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; [16] Above all, taking the shield of faith, with which you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. [17] And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
American King James Version×
).

In summary we are told: “Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.

“For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted” (Hebrews 2:14-18 Hebrews 2:14-18 [14] For as much then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; [15] And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. [16] For truly he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. [17] Why in all things it behooved him to be made like to his brothers, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. [18] For in that he himself has suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted.
American King James Version×
, New American Standard Bible).

“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16 Hebrews 4:15-16 [15] For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. [16] Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
American King James Version×
).

We now can see that both Jesus’ death and life are indispensable to our salvation. They are complementary. One is not complete without the other. If your understanding stops with Jesus’ death, you are missing out on the benefits of Christ’s life—as our High Priest and constant help.

Study your Bible diligently and discover the profound truth of the living Christ-alive not just in heaven, but within His people. 

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