2 Corinthians 4:13–15
13And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written [in Psalm 116], “I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak, 14knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. 15For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.
What is the significance of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead? This is the question we have asked during this time of Eastertide. As we anticipate Ascension Sunday and Pentecost Sunday in the weeks to come, I would like to close our observations on the resurrection today. In our text Paul helps us understand the significance of the resurrection. Why did Jesus rise from the dead? Jesus rose from the dead so that we might be thankful and praise our God.
To make his point, Paul quotes from Psalm 116, a psalm of thanksgiving. In this psalm, the psalmist cried out to God in the face of death: “The pains of death surrounded me, and the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me; I found trouble and sorrow” (116:3). But the psalmist trusted God. He knew that God was capable of delivering him from death and so he cried out to God with the words that Paul quotes: “I believed, therefore I spoke, ‘I am greatly afflicted’” (116:10). The psalmist trusted God and so asked God to deliver him. And glory be to God, the Lord answered his prayer: “For you have delivered my soul from death, My eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living” (116:8-9). God delivered him, so he does the only thing he can rightly do: he praises and thanks the Lord for His mercy: “I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord” (116:18).
The faith and thanksgiving manifested by Psalm 116 are a pattern for us. Just as the psalmist believed and therefore spoke, trusting God to deliver him from death, so we believe and therefore speak, trusting God to deliver us. Why? Because Christ Himself has alreay risen from the dead and guarantees our resurrection. “He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus.” Jesus’ resurrection is the firstfruits, the guarantee of ours. Death is now a defeated foe; Christ is Risen and we too shall rise.
So how ought we to respond to the assurance that God will deliver us from death? Just as the psalmist did: with praise and thanksgiving. You see, the goal of Christ’s resurrection is that thanksgiving and praise might abound in all the world to Yahweh, the living God. Jesus took on human flesh in order to restore rightful worship; Jesus ministered and suffered and died in order to restore rightful worship; Jesus rose from the dead in order to restore rightful worship. In other words, Jesus took on human flesh, ministered, suffered, died, and rose from the dead so that you would be here this morning, joining your voice with the voices of all God’s people and thanking God for his mercies, thanking God that He has delivered you from death.
So, beloved, how eager are you to be here? God raised up Jesus so that you would be here this morning; so that you would lift up your voice in company with the voices of your brothers and sisters; so that you would worship him. So how ought we to approach this morning? With sloth? With mere formality? With mumbling and inattention? May it never be! Let us join our voices week by week in thankful acknowledgement of God’s mercies toward us in Christ – Alleluia! Christ is risen! (Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!) So let us worship the Lord!
Reminded that Jesus rose from the dead in order that we might worship Him together, we are also reminded how we often approach worship with insufficient joy and delight. So let us kneel and confess our sin to the Lord. We will have a time of private confession followed by the public confession found in your bulletin.