Resurrections require deaths.
“Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.” (II Corinthians 4:10-11).
Death and resurrection provide the very foundation upon which the Christian faith rests. Had the Lord Jesus not died, no redeeming atonement for our sins would exist. Had He not arose from the dead, our faith would comprise a mere lifeless exercise of religious ritual and duty. Because our Savior died and arose, however, God can freely provide forgiveness and redemption with no compromise of His character. Moreover, because Christ is risen from the dead, salvation bestows not merely life to the recipient, but the surpassing transcendence of Life beyond life. These truths form and inform our faith as the very heart of God’s redemptive purposes in the world.
One might therefore suspect that the presence of Christ’s Spirit in our hearts might lead to a similar path as traveled by our Lord. It does. “I die daily” wrote the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians, referencing the sufferings he experienced in order that Christ might be manifested through Paul (I Corinthians 15:31-32). The same will be true in all who know the same crucified and risen Christ. Countless challenges, both large and small, provide opportunity for personal experiences of resurrection that become opportunities to both exemplify and confess that the Lord Jesus is risen from the dead. Indeed, the question that often arises from some loss in our lives – “Why did this happen to me?” – can be answered in Paul’s affirmation of Christ revealed in us – “that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.”
Death and resurrection began our salvation. The same cross and empty tomb process characterizes our experience of salvation as the Spirit of Christ walks in us. God can honor us in no greater way than to lead us along the same path long ago trodden by our Lord. It is not an easy journey. However, it is the most blessed of journeys when we recognize that we “walk, even as He walked” (I John 2:6). Yes, deaths make possible resurrections whereby we know the living Christ, but more importantly, whereby others know Him as revealed in us and by us.
“So then death worketh in us, but life in you.”(II Corinthians 4:12)