“(Jesus) was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification” (Romans 4:25).
This world was created perfect. At the end of the six days of creation, God said that everything that He had made was very good. This is especially true of the grandest of all His creatures, mankind. God went on to give the man whom He had made, whom He called Adam, a garden in Eden. Both the man and the woman, however, sinned against their Maker. He therefore drove them out of the garden, but not before He promised that Someone would come along and restore all things.
The Tragedy Of Sin
Adam and Eve were indeed guilty of committing offenses against God. Our Scripture verse says that Someone was put to death for our offenses or trespasses. That Someone was the One whom God had said would restore all things. And all things truly need to be restored, because human sin had violated God’s perfect order of things. The original Greek describes these offenses or violations as breaches. It is as if someone came up to a perfectly constructed building and tore great breaches throughout its entire construction.
This tragic progression of sin continued on after Adam from generation to generation. Man knew within himself that he had put up a barrier between himself and God, and he tried in every way to overcome that barrier. He only succeeded, however, in increasing the barrier instead of destroying it. The sins, the trespasses, the breaches just kept piling up and up. The prophet Isaiah lamented all this when he stated: “All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” That was the black truth. That was man’s horrible, pitiful condition as God saw it. There was nothing any of us could do except go down and down in our sin. Only a miracle of God could save us all from going straight to hell for all eternity.
Jesus, Our Substitute
Our Scripture, though, does not just speak about trespasses. It tells of One who was put to death for them — all of them. Since none of us people could do anything to get us back to God, He Himself had to get us back to Him. The famous fifty-third chapter of Isaiah speaks of none other than Jesus who was that Deliverer who brought us back to God. We read that Jesus was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities. Transgressions and iniquities are another way of saying trespasses. After Jesus had lived His perfect life here on earth, keeping His Father’s law flawlessly in all things, He took all our sins with Him to the cross. His going all the way to the cross was how He was delivered into death for our breaches, our breaking up of God’s perfection.
As Jesus hung on that cross, His burden of our sins because so great and awful that His Father was forced to turn His back on Him. Father God could no longer stand to look at His own Son with all our errors resting upon that Man. This rejection of Jesus by His Father sent Him crashing right down into the lowest depths of hell itself. He sank lower and lower into hell’s pains. “My God, My God, why have You abandoned Me?” He cried out at last. This was the most horrible moment for Him in this whole affair. It was the thing that completely broke His heart. It was the deepest stroke that pierced Him. There is nothing that is more awful than to be forsaken of God. From all eternity He had known why He had to be forsaken by His Father–the truth is that He must be forsaken so that we would never be forsaken.
But then Jesus passed through it, and God’s comforting presence was restored to Him. Then, after He received the bitter drink of vinegar, He gave another cry. “It is accomplished!” He announced. Then He yielded His spirit. Yes, Jesus had just made the sufficient payment for all our transgressions. His blood was the glue that healed together all those breaches we had made against God so that they were erased out of His sight. His death completed that beautiful bridge that returned us to God. We were once again reconciled to our Creator, as St. Paul says: “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them, and hath committed unto us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:19).
Our verse has something even more to tell us. It says that Jesus was raised again for our justification. Very early on that first Easter morning, well before the sun was up, Jesus was made alive in His grave by the Holy Spirit. He then vanished outside of His tomb. When He did that, the final step of God’s plan for our salvation had been accomplished. Jesus’ blood was the thing that erased our offenses from God’s sight. A dead Jesus, however, does no one any good. He also had to rise again from the dead for our justification.
The Bible’s meaning of the word “justify” is “to declare righteous.” God declares us righteous because of Jesus’ perfect earthly life, His suffering and death for our sins, and finally His resurrection. Christ’s suffering and death and then rising again to destroy our sins is a beautiful example of God’s giving us double grace for our offenses. Isaiah states that from the hand of the Lord we have received double–that is, double grace–for all our sins (Is. 40). Surely Jesus’ rising from death shouts to us that His Father had accepted His payment for all our wrongs. The way back to Father God had been constructed by Jesus, the Son. Praise be to His glorious name forever and ever.
Another grand truth about Easter is that Christ’s resurrection means our own resurrection. One day He will come and take us to Himself. He has told us that in His Father’s house there are many mansions. Scripture says that there will be new heavens and a new earth in store for us.
I have chosen to call this new creation, The World Of The Wonderful. There everything will be all smooth, perfect, and beautiful with no more breaches. It will be the Garden of Eden once more–only on a much, much grander scale. There will be no more sorrow, sickness, pain or death for us. All the believers will be united together into one happy and blessed family, never to be parted from one another again. Truly the most tremendous realm of our joy will be to behold Jesus Himself, our Father God, and the Master of Wisdom, the Holy Spirit, in all their fullest glory.
All of this will be the result of Christ’s having come to earth, having suffered and died for our trespasses, and then having risen again so that we would be declared righteous. Because He has done all this for us, He is certainly the One who is Jesus Beneficent, goodness in essence, goodness in quintessence–the great, holy Savior-God.
— Submitted by Greg Kesterson, member of Berea Lutheran Church, Sioux Falls, S.Dak.