So much has been said and written about the resurrection of Jesus. Surely no event in all history has received more attention, both positive and negative, than this singular moment.
The apostle Paul gives us insight into the meaning of the resurrection as it applies to the daily life of Christians. Encouraging the disciples in first-century Rome to live a life of righteous dedication to the Lord, he reminded them that all who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized “into his death.” (Romans 6:3) Then he adds, “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we, too, might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:4)
Here it is! The secret to a happy, fulfilled life! The “new life” every person conscious of their need for God desires. “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17) Coupled with Jesus’ death and burial, the resurrection signals the reality of spiritual renewal for the penitent sinner, and is the beginning point of the change for which he longs. Christian baptism is the spiritual likeness of that burial and resurrection, the “new birth” to which Jesus pointed the Jewish ruler and Pharisee Nicodemus (John 3).
The key to Paul’s thinking is the centrality of death. It was necessary for Jesus to shed his blood in death to make possible the forgiveness of our sins. He said to his disciples, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (John 12:23-25)
It’s also necessary for the sinner to die spiritually. He must “die to sin” in order to be “alive to God”! (Romans 6:11) Paul explains that this death to sin, or repentance, is demonstrated when a person obeys the command of Christ to be baptized. Likewise, baptism allows an obedient believer to rise from the watery grave and “walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:4)
This death to sin, or repentance, is done on a daily basis as we seek to live for the Lord (Romans 8:12-14), but it begins when we first commit ourselves to Him in repentance and baptism. Everett F. Harrison wrote, regarding baptism and our death to sin: “What is being described is a spiritual reality of the deepest import. ... Union with Christ means union with Him in His death. It is significant that although Jesus emphasized discipleship throughout His ministry, He did not speak of union with Himself till He was on the verge of going to the cross (John 14-16). (Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 10, page 681.)
Because Jesus was raised, our bodies will be raised when Jesus comes again (1 Corinthians 15). As we await that glorious conclusion, we can live in a glorious way now. Jesus come that we might “have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10) The resurrection has made that fullness possible.