I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. (Revelation 1:17–18)
Jesus is alive. Right now, seated on the throne of the universe, at his Father’s right hand, in risen and glorified humanity, he lives. His heart beats, his lungs fill, his eyes see, his brain fires as he rules and reigns with all authority over his church and the nations. What makes the past event of Christ’s resurrection so precious to his people is that it is no mere past event, because *he lives* right now.
The resurrection of Christ is no victory lap after the race is done. Jesus’s resurrection, and present life, is vital — without it there would be no Christianity, no good news, and indeed no hope for tomorrow. But he is alive, and it does our souls good to rehearse it with specific reasons why his resurrection, and ongoing life, is so essential.
First, the word of the living God is at stake in the ongoing life of Christ.
Through his prophets, God had long promised to send his people a climatically Anointed One, the Messiah, heir to David’s throne and rallying hope of Israel. And essential to that Messianic promise was an eternal reign (2 Samuel 7:13, 16). Not only would David’s line continue one generation after another, but one great heir was coming who would reign without end (Psalm 45:6–7). Jesus was, and is, that Christ.
It was impossible for him to be kept from that eternal reign. Not even the last enemy could keep him from it. Strong as the power of death may seem, it was no match for the omnipotent God working for his Messiah.
Jesus’s earthly life was without sin. He was utterly innocent, and rising again vindicated his perfect human life. Death and Satan had no claim on him because Jesus had no “record of debt that stood against [him] with its legal demands” (Colossians 2:14). With respect to Jesus, Satan and his minions had never been armed; they had no hooks in him, because he had no sin or guilt. Rather, in dying, Jesus gave himself, nailing to the cross our record of debt, because of our trespasses, and disarming the demons against us (Colossians 2:13, 15).
Jesus’s life also confirms that his death on the cross worked. It counted. It was effective. His dying declaration — “It is finished” (John 19:30) — is shown to be true by his resurrection and ongoing life. Had he stayed dead, or died again since, what confidence would we have that his sacrifice worked, that it was sufficient for us and all who believe? What firm hope would we have that he indeed was not only innocent of his own sin, but that his death could count for us?
Not only do our sins require a reckoning — by Christ, outside of us — but we also need to have access to his work, to have it applied to us. Potential salvation is not enough. We need actual rescue, which comes through the instrument called faith, which unites us to a resurrected, living Lord.
However sufficient Christ’s self-sacrifice might have been to cover our sins, we have no access to that rescue if he is not alive so that we might be united to him. But he is alive. As he says, “I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades” (Revelation 1:17–18). There is no great salvation for us if we are not united by faith to a living Lord to have the benefits of his work applied to us.
Finally, and most importantly, Jesus is alive to be known and enjoyed forever. There is simply no final good news if our Pearl of Great Price is dead. Even if our sins could be paid for and heaven could be secured, but Jesus did not rise, there would be no great salvation in the end — not if our Savior and Groom is dead.
But he lives. And at the very center of the gospel triumph is not what he saves us from, but what he saves us to — better, who he saves us to: himself.
Our restless souls will not find eternal, ever-increasing rest and joy in a Christ-less new earth, no matter how stunning. Streets of gold, reunions with loved ones, and sinless living may thrill us at first — but they will not ultimately satisfy, not for eternity, not on their own.
We were made for Jesus. He is at the center of true life now, and he will be forever.