GETTING THE MESSAGE/Christ, our great Redeemer
In Romans 14:9 Paul says, “For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord of both the living and the dead.” Paul means that Christ secured the indisputable right to exercise lordship over believers, both those who have died and those who are still alive on earth. For those who believe, this means we carry around the death of Christ in us so that the life of Christ may be revealed in us.
So it is both necessary and good for us to constantly review the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus. Christ took upon himself human nature to represent men before God and die as the great High Priest, offering to God the Father a sacrifice that made him Lord over all.
Christ died a voluntary death in obedience to the Father. His death was violent on the part of those who forced it but voluntary in regard of those whom he offered himself for as a sweet sacrifice to his Father. The Father gave him; he gave himself. He died a cursed death; he was made a curse for us that he might remove the curse from us. From Adam sprung all misery and death, from Christ all life.
So we should think and wonder that life should die, that glory should become shame for us, and that the author of all blessing should become a curse for us! It is a great mystery that Christ, being God, should stoop so low. God, to show his love for us, showed himself God in this, that he could be God and go so low as to die a shameful and cursed death for us.
Christ rose again. It was impossible that death may hold him, the Lord of life. The old theologians called his dying and rising the act of a “public” person. He represented and acted for others so that he rose to give and infuse life into all his branches. By Christ’s life we are given life. What a vine to be grafted in to!
Christ rose never to die again. Revelation 1:18: “Behold, I was dead and am alive, and I live for evermore; I have the keys of death and hell.” Hebrews 7:25: “He sits forevermore at the right hand of God, there making intercession for us.”
His rising again was a manifestation that his death was a full satisfaction to divine justice. The most terrible attribute of God to sinners, justice, is now a ground of comfort for all in Christ, for it is not justice to require the same debt paid twice. It is a great comfort to sing “Jesus paid it all” and “justice smiles and asks no more.”
In rising again Christ entered into the possession and exercise of the Lordship he had purchased by his death. After he rose, he said, “All authority in heaven and earth is given to me.” Certainly, Christ was Lord over all before he died, but he entered into his Mediatorial Lordship when he rose and ascended to the right hand of God.
He is the universal Lord over all. In a loving manner, he is Lord over his church, all those united to him by faith. He is Lord as the Elder Brother, the first among those who died and rose again. His lordship is that as a king over his subjects; but it is such a lordship as is for the good of his subjects. Jesus does all things well.
He is the eternal Lord. All the kings of earth have nothing to do with men when they die. They can cause them no more hurt or do them no more good. Death ends their government. But Christ’s Lordship extends when we leave this world, and more especially so, for his people are immediately with him. Paul said, “It is better to depart and be with Christ.”
So you can see that the grounds of a Christian’s faith and comfort are very strong. God’s providential end is that we may see the majesty of Christ after his abasement for our salvation. So we interweave these two in our thoughts that we may marvel at so great a salvation and live to glorify and honor the majesty of Christ, our great Redeemer.
Sometimes we are afraid of death, as we are all naturally. If you don’t know Christ, you have much reason to fear death. But for the believer, whether we live or die, we live or die to the Lord Jesus. My salvation is not in danger in life or death, because Christ died and rose again for me.
The Rev. Chris Shelton is pastor of Union’s First Presbyterian Church.