Why the Resurrection Makes All the Difference

Every time we celebrate Easter, we are commemorating God’s gift of salvation. In His love for humanity, God made a way for us to enter into an eternal relationship with Him through His Son. Jesus came into this world out of love, lived as we live, and gave Himself over to be crucified and to suffer for our redemption. His death made it possible for us to truly know God and to live with Him forever.

We know that Jesus is God’s Son because of the accounts of Him given in the Gospels. He did and said numerous things which spoke to the fact that He is God’s Son. His resurrection from the dead, which we celebrate every Easter, is proof that He is all that He said He was—that He is the long-awaited Messiah and God the Son.

While on occasion Jesus stated that He was the Messiah, He generally didn’t refer to Himself as such. The title of Messiah carried with it preconceived ideas in the minds of the people of His day and expectations of a political nature. Claiming to be the Messiah would most likely have prematurely brought about conflict with the Jewish leaders and the Roman government. It would also have brought up expectations for the Messiah as someone who would throw off the shackles of the Roman oppressors and physically deliver the Jewish people.

Jesus referred to Himself as the Son of Man over seventy times throughout the Gospels, a non-messianic title from the book of Daniel that the Jews of His day were familiar with 1. By referring to Himself as the Son of Man, Jesus could speak of His mission on earth—which included His suffering and death, His second coming, His role in judgment, and His glorious future—without using the politically charged title of Messiah.

Within the Gospels, Jesus was the only one who used the title Son of Man in reference to Himself. He used the title to claim the authority to do what only God could do, such as forgive sins. “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—He then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home” 2. He also referred to Himself this way when telling His disciples about His coming crucifixion and resurrection on the third day 3.

Jesus foretold that as the Son of Man, He would lay down His life for our redemption: “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” 4. And so He was crucified, died, and was buried—and then rose from the dead. It is His sacrificial atoning death that has given us eternal life 5.

Another way in which Jesus used the phrase the Son of Man was when speaking of His second coming, when He will return to the earth to establish His rule and to pronounce judgment. The book of Daniel speaks of “one like a son of man” coming on the clouds of heaven 6. This reference to a human-looking figure with authority, glory, worship, and an eternal kingdom evokes an image of power normally reserved for God.

Jesus is also referred to as the Son of God, both by Himself and by others. His Sonship is woven throughout the Gospels, especially in the things He said about Himself. From the Gospels we understand that He existed eternally with the Father before the creation of the world as the Word of God, and that He made all things. The Word then became a human being, in the person of Jesus, who through the life He led taught us about God and His love. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” 7.

We are told of His Sonship in the birth narratives, where His paternity comes directly from God through the conception of the Holy Spirit, and therefore He is called the Son of God 8. He was named Jesus, which means “Yahweh is salvation”—Yahweh being one of the names by which the Jewish people know God.

When Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the River Jordan at the beginning of His mission, the voice of God stated, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” 9. Close to the end of His mission, when He was transfigured, God once again declared that He was His Son 10.

Jesus had a unique relationship with the Father through knowing Him as only His one and only Son could. When asked by the Jewish leadership if He was the Son of God, He answered in the affirmative: “The high priest asked Him, ‘Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?’ And Jesus said, ‘I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven’” 11.

The statements Jesus made about Himself and His relationship to God, claiming to be equal to God, at times accepting worship 12, and claiming to do the work of the Father were seen as outlandish and blasphemous by those who opposed Him. The Jewish religious leaders considered Him a false messiah and came to the conclusion that He needed to die so that the Romans wouldn’t destroy the nation because of Him 13. While the Jewish leaders didn’t have the authority to kill Jesus themselves, they were able to have Him crucified by the Roman authorities. The supposed false messiah who claimed to be God’s Son was crucified, and the problem was seemingly taken care of.

But then … He rose from the dead. And His resurrection proved that all He said He was, all the authority He claimed to have—the messiahship, the power and dominion, and His Sonship—was genuine. Jesus is who He said He was.

Had Jesus not risen, had there been no resurrection, then everything that God’s Word says about Him would be false. Our faith, as Paul said, would be worthless 14. But the resurrection proves that our faith is of inestimable worth. It proves that Jesus is God the Son.

Because of the resurrection, we are assured that through belief in Jesus we have eternal life. That’s what Easter is all about. That’s why it’s a day to praise and thank Him for His great sacrifice, for laying down His life for us. That’s why it’s a day to worship God for the wonderful plan of salvation which He enacted. That’s why Easter is a wonderful day to make a personal commitment to share the good news that Jesus is risen and His free offer of salvation is available to all who will receive it. Happy Easter!

  1. Daniel 7:13–14
  2. Matthew 9:6
  3. Matthew 17:22–23
  4. Matthew 20:28
  5. 1 Peter 2:24
  6. Daniel 7:13
  7. John 1:14
  8. Luke 1:31–35
  9. Matthew 3:16–17
  10. Matthew 17:5
  11. Mark 14:61–62
  12. Matthew 14:33
  13. John 11:47–50
  14. 1 Corinthians 15:14