A fundamental part of understanding the gospel of Jesus Christ is understanding that he absorbed the wrath of God that we deserve, so that the crucifixion and the torturous nature of his death are very important elements, and if he just ascended to Heaven without first dying, there would be no atonement for sin. The slaughter of the Son Of God was the only thing that could redeem people such as us. The importance of this event is emphasized in that Islamic scriptures reject this as a historical event (despite that the crucifixion is universally agreed upon by contemporary scholarship). So the crucifixion of Jesus is integral to Christian theology. But perhaps even more important is the resurrection of Jesus. This is a point often overlooked as many non-believers may ask, Why did Jesus not remain dead?
Indeed the crucifixion, resurrection, and atonement provided through Christ for our sins is something that even Jesus himself taught, in that he said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” In saying this, he meant that when people come to him, they will take his sinless record upon them and stand without guilt before God, as though they had never sinned. This underlines the point that these doctrines are so essential to the Christian faith, it was quite literally the central mission of his death and resurrection, and therefore this objection challenges the central claim of Christian belief.
This objection is essentially that if Jesus bore the sins of all of mankind, then it is reasonable to think that he should have remained dead. If people are sentenced to Hell for their sins, we might wonder why Jesus would not be condemned to Hell as a proper substitute for the punishment that we deserve. How can a few hours be equivalent to the punishment of all people, for all time? The sacrifice of Christ, they object, would simply not be enough.
So how could a few hours on the cross atone for crimes that wage eternal destruction? Why did Jesus not remain dead?
Jesus Is Worth More
When God poured out his wrath on Jesus Christ, that wrath atoned for all of the sins of everybody who loved him, and thus their names are in the Book Of Life, rather than being devoted to eternal destruction. The reason that a few hours on the Cross is worth more than eternal damnation in Hell is that Jesus Christ is worth more than all of the guilty sinners combined.
Neither goats nor bulls were enough to satisfy the justice of God, as Hebrews 10 tells us, but only the slaughter of the Son could redeem wicked men of their sin. What we have to understand is that the Son is God himself; he is worthy of worship and is greater than absolutely everything. As Philippians 2 tells us, he shared the same nature with the Father, and he was worth so much more than any men in our world.
It is rather appropriate that Jesus used the metaphor of a cup when referring to drinking God’s wrath, for while it takes us an eternity to drink an entire cup, Jesus Christ drank the cup of God’s wrath while he was on the cross, and three days later he rose from the dead.
Why Did He Rise From The Dead?
When Jesus was murdered, the Jewish authorities showed by their tradition, that he was a blasphemer and a heretic; literally under the curse of God. Thus to follow such a man or claim that he is the Christ would be absurd. The man who was thought to be the Son Of Man was dead, and far from triumphing over Israel’s enemies (as Jewish tradition holds), he was executed as a criminal. Every time a false Messiah rose up in ancient Judaism, they dealt with them in the same way: capital punishment, and this proved their claims of divinity to be false. In the eyes of the Jews, the crucifixion proved that Jesus was a liar and a blasphemer.
Thus the crucifixion should have ended the movement of Jesus. But despite that, three days later the tomb of Jesus was found empty and the disciples began proclaiming the he had been risen from the dead. The resurrection of Jesus was necessary to maintain belief in Jesus as the Son Of Man because in the absence of it, Jesus would have been thought to be under the curse of God.
Therefore the resurrection vindicated Jesus; proving his radical claims to being the divine Son Of God. It was indeed absolutely essential, and also served as an example for the resurrection of those who are in Christ.
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