But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised... And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is useless; you are still in your sins. (1 Corinthians 15:13,17 NET)
Jesus on the cross said, "tetelestai" (John 19:28,30) (2) meaning "it is finished" but did He mean that there was nothing left to be done? Good question! I believe He meant that all the things prophesied about Him were fulfilled. That is, the way to righteousness through the Law (that we could never satisfy) was satisfied by Jesus and replaced with righteousness obtained as a gift by grace through faith. The reality is that the Law could never make a human with the fallen nature right with God because we could never satisfy the requirement of keeping all its commandments perfectly. (1) Consequently, the Law as the method for bringing mankind back into a personal relationship with God the Father was superseded by Jesus. He perfectly kept all the Law thus satisfying its requirements for having a right relationship with God the Father (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus had lived a perfect life as a man so that He could be the sacrifice for mankind's original sin and all subsequent sins past, present, and future. (1) Then He became our mediator in the Covenant of Death (1), that Adam and Eve entered into, taking upon Himself our punishment for sin and paid our price (i.e., bore our punishment and served our sentence of death).
So, was the resurrection simply a fulfillment of prophecy or was there more to the plan of salvation after the "it is finished"? I believe, even as the virgin birth was both a prophetical sign (1) that Jesus was the promised Savior and a necessity for Him to be born without a sin nature (1); the resurrection of our Lord Jesus was both a prophetical sign and a necessity.
Recall, Jesus entered into His ministry at about the age of 30 which is the age of Levitical service in the temple (Luke 3:23. Numbers 4:3), Jesus was then declared to be the Lamb of God who will take away the sin of the world by John the Baptist (John 1:29,36). He is baptized in water by John and in so doing publicly accepted the mission of being the sacrifice for mankind’s sin. (Matthew 3:13-15) Upon coming up from the water of Baptism God the Holy Spirit rests upon Jesus and God His Father announces to all present that Jesus is His unique Son in whom He is well pleased. (Matthew 3:16,17) I believe Jesus' water baptism was also the moment when He becomes our High Priest, not in the Order of Aaron, but rather in the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 5:10). John the Baptist, who was of the order of the priesthood of Aaron officiated in this priesthood ceremony by washing Jesus in water (i.e., baptized him) and then God the Father anointed Him with the Holy Spirit (the oil of the Old Testament represented the Holy Spirit). (Leviticus 8:1-12) That is, Jesus voluntarily accepts the role of our High Priest so that He can offer Himself as our sacrifice for sin! (Hebrews 7).
Later, at Jesus' Sanhedrin trial, the High Priest Caiaphas (his name means rock that hollows itself out) tore his high priestly garments (1) even though this was forbidden. (Matthew 26:62-65) This was no accidental tearing as the opening at the neck was round, with a hem that was doubled over, and closed by weaving, thus specifically fortified to prevent it from accidental tearing. (Exodus 28:31,32;39:22,23) Remember, it was customary in Israel to tear their garments and put sackcloth and ashes on their heads upon the death of a relative (Genesis 37:33,34) However, the High Priest's garments were holy and sacred; therefore, not to be torn even for the death of a relative. (Leviticus 10:1-7) Figuratively meaning the High Priest's personal emotions are not to overrule his ministry as representative of the people to God. Consequently, I believe the intentional tearing by Caiaphas of the high priestly garments represented the abolishment of the Levitical Priesthood and its replacement with the order of the Melchizedek Priesthood. (Psalms 110:4) Even as the redemption of mankind required a sacrifice to be made that was better than animals and their blood, it also required a mediatorial High Priest that was better than a fallen man with the sin nature. Furthermore, this High Priest must be a man to be the mediator representing mankind in a new and better covenant and He must be sinless for his blood to be sufficient payment for our sin and sins. Also, the high priest must be God to make a new and better covenant with God the Father for us. Enter Jesus the God-Man who is both the better sacrifice and the better High Priest! Hallelujah! I believe that at the moment of the tearing of the High Priests robe Jesus operationalizes His role as eternal High Priest, our Great High Priest! (Hebrews 5:6,10; 6:20)
What about the temple? Do we need a better one? Glad you asked! Yes, while the blood of animals could be sprinkled on the Mercy Seat in the earthly Temple, in order for God to "Passover" the sins of Israel for a year, the perfect blood of Jesus must enter the Most Holy Place in the Temple in Heaven to purchase an eternal "Passing Over" or rather our eternal redemption. (Hebrews 9:8-10) Again, the High Priest's robe was torn representing the end of the Aaronic priesthood since a better one was needed and found in Jesus for securing everlasting salvation for fallen mankind. Similarly, the veil in the temple was torn upon Jesus' death on the cross (Matthew 27:50,51) representing the suspension of God's earthly temple system, which included the Mercy Seat, since a better one was needed to secure eternal redemption for fallen mankind. When the veil in the temple was torn, the Mercy Seat located in the Temple was no longer the place of propitiation. That is, it was no longer the place for satisfying the righteous demands of God's justice so that His mercy can be given. Instead, Jesus became the place of propitiation while on the Cross - Jesus became the better Mercy Seat! (Romans 3:25)
Consequently, Jesus became that which propitiates (Greek - hilasmos, i.e., His blood (1 John 2:2;4:10)) and the place of propitiation (Greek - hilasterion, i.e., the Mercy Seat (Romans 3:25)). Jesus as our High Priest offered up Himself as the substitutional sacrifice for our sin and sins upon Himself as the Mercy Seat of God! Hallelujah! (1 John 4:14. Jude 1:25)
Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow. (3)
Again, why was the resurrection more than a prophetical sign? Jesus lived a perfect life free from sin to qualify as the perfect substitute for our sins. He suffered for our sins (1) from the moment of His surrender in Gethsemane through His death on the cross and beyond. He died as the mediatorial substitute for all mankind and took our sin and all of its ramifications upon Himself and placed them in the Abyss. (1) Thus, He made a way for all that accept Him as Savior and Lord to be freed from the punishment of eternal pain after death while confined in Hell (1) (or the Lake of Fire after the Great White Throne of Judgment (1)) which is what God's justice demands for us transgressors.
"Brothers, I can speak confidently to you about our forefather David, that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. So then, because he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants on his throne, David by foreseeing this spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did his body experience decay. This Jesus God raised up, and we are all witnesses of it. So then, exalted to the right hand of God, and having received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father, he has poured out what you both see and hear. For David did not ascend into heaven, but he himself says, 'The Lord said to my lord, "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet."' Therefore let all the house of Israel know beyond a doubt that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ." (Acts 2:29-36 NET)
Yes, the price had been paid; however, the deal had not been sealed! What do you mean? Again, I am glad you asked! Jesus the mediatorial High Priest, the Mercy Seat of God whose blood was poured out for the remission and forgiveness of sins, must now enter into the Most Holy Place of the Tabernacle in Heaven (i.e., the throne room of God the Father) and make a New, and better, Covenant in order to secure eternal salvation for all mankind that call upon the Name of the Lord! Hallelujah! (Hebrews 9:11-15;12:24;1:3;10:12;12:2). The urgency to perform this act was why I believe Jesus did not desire to be detained by Mary Magdalene since He had just returned from the underworld (1) on the Lord's day and was on His way to Heaven to "cut" this New Covenant in His blood. (John 20:10-17)
Realize, if Jesus had not been resurrected, then there would not be a New Covenant to offer the benefits of Jesus's substitutional and sacrificial death. He arose from the dead to make a new way of being right with God the Father by Grace (i.e., favor) that receives Mercy (i.e., God's ability to solve any and all problems) through Faith (1 Timothy 2:5. 1 Corinthians 15:3,4. Ephesians 2:8,9. Philippians 3:8,9). Furthermore, if Jesus had been resurrected as only human or only God He would not have been able to have been the mediator for mankind in the New, and better, Covenant that had to be made between God the Father and God the Son - for us! Later, Jesus suddenly appeared to ten of the apostles and ate broiled fish in their presence to show that He had a glorified (1) body that was both spirit (invisible until desired to be seen) and flesh (He could eat food which is something a spirit cannot do). (Luke 24:36-38) That is, He is 100% God and 100% Man! Hallelujah!
From Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God. This gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, concerning his Son who was a descendant of David with reference to the flesh, who was appointed the Son-of-God-in-power according to the Holy Spirit by the resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 1:1-4 NET)
For I passed on to you as of first importance what I also received– that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as though to one born at the wrong time, he appeared to me also. (1 Corinthians 15:3-8 NET)
With great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was on them all. (Acts 4:33 NET)
Rejoice, those that die having accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior (1) will experience resurrection! Hallelujah!
Now if Christ is being preached as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is futile and your faith is empty. Also, we are found to be false witnesses about God, because we have testified against God that he raised Christ from the dead, when in reality he did not raise him, if indeed the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is useless; you are still in your sins. Furthermore, those who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished. For if only in this life we have hope in Christ, we should be pitied more than anyone. But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also came through a man. For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; then when Christ comes, those who belong to him. Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when he has brought to an end all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be eliminated is death. (1 Corinthians 15:12-26 NET)
Now we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, so also we believe that God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep as Christians. For we tell you this by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will surely not go ahead of those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be suddenly caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:1 NET)
For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be united in the likeness of his resurrection. (Romans 6:5 NET)
And just as people are appointed to die once, and then to face judgment, so also, after Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many, to those who eagerly await him he will appear a second time, not to bear sin but to bring salvation. (Hebrews 9:27-28 NET)
Scriptural Application Prayer:
I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you spiritual wisdom and revelation in your growing knowledge of him, – since the eyes of your heart have been enlightened– so that you may know what is the hope of his calling, what is the wealth of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the incomparable greatness of his power toward us who believe, as displayed in the exercise of his immense strength. This power he exercised in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms far above every rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And God put all things under Christ's feet, and he gave him to the church as head over all things. Now the church is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:17-23 NET)
Now may the God of peace who by the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep, our Lord Jesus Christ, equip you with every good thing to do his will, working in us what is pleasing before him through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20-21 NET)
(1) Left-click on the underlined phrase to open another article in a different tab with more explanation.
(3) Jesus Paid It All, Elvina M. Hall, 1865, copyright status is Public Domain