I believe: He Arose
I believe... ...Jesus Christ...
was crucified, died and was buried;
He descended into Hades;
on the third day He rose again from the dead;
Death is the normal course of life.
At least that is what we have been conditioned to think. It's one of those things that seems normal and natural to us because we have lived under the shadow of death so long.
Because of our God-given adaptability, we will quickly get used to most things. We even become blind to inconveniences, whether it be a noise in the car or a strange smell in a cupboard. While initially it seemed quite concerning, time passes and it just becomes a normal part of our environment.
Although we have come to accept death as part of life, the Bible tells us that it doesn't have to be that way.
Death is a natural consequence in humanity, but it's natural in the same way that rabbit plagues and environmental destruction are a natural consequence of introducing rabbits to Australia. It wasn't like this until someone took it upon themselves to "make things better" and ended up making it a lot worse for everybody.
The consequence of death has two natural elements to it. First, it is a criminal consequence: "The one who sins is the one who will die" (Eze 18:4). Death is a judgment from God against unrighteousness and serves to limit the evil on the earth. When we have sinned against God, we have set ourselves against Him and we rightly deserve a punishment that fits the crime of cosmic rebellion.
Secondly, death is a physical consequence. When we as humanity and individually separate ourselves from the Creator, we separate ourselves from the source of life. Paul quotes the philosophers on this: "For in [God] we live and move and have our being" (Ac 17:28). As we move further and further away from God by making our own path, following our heart, and choosing our destiny, we are wandering further and further from Life itself, and thus wander into "un-life." As co-regents of the Earth (Gen 1:28) humanity has pledged itself, and creation with us, to corruption and death. God cursed the world, but He only did it after we invited Him to do it: "Because you have ... eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you ... till you return to the ground, for ... to dust you shall return" (excerpts from Ge 3:17–19).
As the earth obits around the sun we are sustained by it's heat and light, giving us "life" in a figurative sense. However, if we were to leave this goldilocks zone, and venture away from the sun's light and warmth we only move further and further into the black, cold void.
Although we committed to heading out into the cold and black, God knows that we can't survive out there. God knows that there is nothing out there for us, and that we can only find fullness of life in His orbit.
And so, despite our stubborn insistence on killing ourselves with sin and rebellion, God set about undoing the consequences of our actions. He will undo death. He will draw us back into His orbit of life.
He did it by sending Jesus to death for us. As fully God, and fully man, Jesus suffered and died, went down into the grave, and then after three days* He rose from death! Jesus triumphed over death by disarming it!
While death may be able to hold sinners, who justly deserve to die, it could not hold the sinless God-man Himself, even though He bore our sins in the process! "it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him" (Ac 2:24).
Jesus carved a return path from death. Where once it was a one-way street, Jesus installed a U-turn facility. As the one who has disarmed the effects of death, Jesus will give His righteousness to anyone who comes to Him in faith. Once someone has received the righteousness of Christ, death has no claim on them! They will not stay dead, but Christ will raise them from the dead!
Like the first fruit on the tree in spring is a sign of a motherload to come, Jesus coming up from the grave was the first of a host more to follow.
While the natural consequences of death are still in operation right now, death has now lost it's "sting" (1 Cor 15:54–57). It is not a permanent predicament for those who belong to Jesus; death is merely a waystation on the way to eternal life!
Jesus rose from the dead, bodily. He hung out with His mates, cooked up a good campfire breakfast, and fit in a few theology classes to boot (Acts 1:3). Jesus was dead, but death had no chance of keeping Him down.
"Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive" (1 Co 15:20–22).
*In the ancient Jewish counting - "three days" included parts of a day. Therefore Friday afternoon, Saturday, & Sunday morning = three days. If we were saying the same thing in modern English, we might say "over the course of three days."