Christianity stands or falls on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. When Matthew records for us the events of chapter 28, he is, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, making claims that change the world. We’ll look at three implications concerning the authority of Christ based on the resurrection.
1. He has authority over life and death.
If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, then we don’t have to worry about a thing He said, because it was a lie. But if Jesus rose from the dead, then we must accept everything He said, for His authority is absolute. Jesus closes this chapter and the Gospel as a whole by claiming, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (v. 18). Jesus’ absolute authority based on the resurrection means that He has authority over life and death. Shortly before His own death, Jesus told His disciples the following:
No one takes it [My life] from Me, but I lay it down on My own. I have the right to lay it down, and I have the right to take it up again. (John 10:18)
That’s an astounding statement. None of us decides when we will come into this world, and when we die, none of us has the power to say, “I’m coming back to life.” But that’s precisely what Jesus did, and if He did rise from the dead, then He has absolute authority over life and death.
2. He has authority over sin and Satan
If Jesus rose from the dead, then we must also admit that He has authority over sin and Satan. All men die because they sin, for death is the payment for sin (Genesis 2:17; Romans 6:23). However, Jesus is one man in all of history who died without sinning; so why did He die? Jesus died for our sins, in our place (1 Peter 2:24). After His death, Jesus rose from the grave, not only in victory over death, but in victory over sin. 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 teaches us that sin is the “sting of death”:
Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting? Now the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!
3. He has authority over you and me
The fact that Jesus has authority over life and death, as well as over sin and Satan, leads to one unavoidable conclusion: He has authority over you and me. Paul speaks to this reality in Romans 10:9-13:
If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation. Now the Scripture says, Everyone who believes on Him will not be put to shame, for there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, since the same Lord of all is rich to all who call on Him. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
Second, He loves us deeply. Remember that the purpose of the resurrection is grounded in Christ’s love for us. God sent His Son to pay the price for our sin, and the resurrection lets us know that our hope of salvation is not some made-up story, some fanciful myth. The resurrection of Jesus validates everything He said, taught, and told us He came to do. In Galatians 2:20 Paul speaks of the Son of God who “loved me and gave Himself for me.” Believers should rejoice in Jesus’ love demonstrated in both His cross and His resurrection.
Third, Christ’s authority over us means that He will judge us eternally. Jesus speaks of His role as judge in John 5:21-23. For all who believe in Christ, the truth of Christ’s judgment is good news. It’s good news because you can be saved from eternal judgment if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead (Romans 10:9). Christ’s role as judge is also good news because the resurrection reminds us that this world is not all there is. If our only expectations are for this life, then we have no hope in the face of tragedy in this world. Furthermore, Christ’s judgment means our efforts for justice in this world become meaningful.
All of us have built-in longings and desires for meaning and purpose, and this tells us that this world is not the entire picture. Neither disease nor natural disasters have the last word in this world; because of the resurrection, Jesus does. And He will have the last word in the lives of each of us for all of eternity.
**This Daily devotion was modified from Exalting Jesus in Matthew from the Christ-Centered Exposition commentary series, by David Platt.