Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;…
The resurrection of our Lord is but one of that series of acts by which the Son of God is fulfilling the commission which He received from the Father to bring back to Him lost creation. We must never so fix our attention on the details of the work of Christ as to lose sight of its wholeness. It was not the first appearance of the Son of God as man which began that work; it was not His disappearance from mortal sight which completed it. Nor is it any one specific link of Christ's appearance in the flesh on which the salvation of the world exclusively hangs; but on all of them taken together, inserted into, and mutually dependent on each other, as visible parts of that far greater invisible whole. And, accordingly, St. Paul makes mention of the resurrection of Jesus as consequent upon (not in order of time merely, but of relation) the death of Jesus; and this death, again, as consequent upon (in similar order of relation, and of cause and effect) the offences of mankind: "For" means on account of, as the result of, our offences, Christ was delivered by the Father to an expiatory death; and on account of, as the result of, our justification, that expiation having been thereby effected, Christ was raised again to everlasting life. Here, then, we see the resurrection of Jesus, connected not merely in the sequence of time, but in the consequence of cause and effect, with the expiatory death of Jesus. Wherein does the connection consist? I answer, the resurrection was vouchsafed by God to Jesus —
I. AS THE REWARD OF THAT JUSTIFYING DEATH. This is a doctrine which St. Paul exhibits more clearly than by the single particle of our text in Philippians 2:9 (see also Psalm 45:7; Psalm 91:14; Isaiah 53:11, 12; Hebrews 12:21). And here we have an instance of God's general principle of conduct towards His people. He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. Them that honour Him He will honour. "God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love which ye have showed towards His name." "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." And we must not let the thought lie idle in our minds; we must live upon it by an appropriating faith. Faith in the absolute certainty and constant exercise of God's moral and retributive government, gives life and spirit to our energies, and patient perseverance to our struggles.
II. AS THE PUBLIC TESTIMONY FROM GOD OF ITS EFFICACY AND ACCEPTANCE. Jesus had undertaken a mighty work — no less than the taking away the sin of the world; and the assurance of the full sufficiency and complete acceptance of His sacrifice is essential to our faith, and peace, and holiness. As, therefore, God vouchsafed to testify His acceptance of preceding offerings, so, by raising up His Son, did He testify that the justifying act was done and was sufficient, that access to His presence was procured for every penitent, that we may now have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus. When Abraham offered sacrifice God vouchsafed to give him visible testimony of its acceptance (Genesis 15:17, 18). When Moses and the Israelites offered burnt offerings to the Lord then "they saw the God of Israel — they saw God and did eat and drink." When Elijah had prepared the burnt sacrifice then "the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice," etc. And so, too, after the sacrifice of Jesus was offered, then came there the sign from heaven; then was there the public proclamation — now, by facts, of what had been already told in words — "This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased!" "Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee!" Oh, let the anxious penitent, who feels that on his justification through the merits of Christ must ever hang all his peace and hope, look with thankful adoration to the testimony given thereto. "He was raised again for" — for having wrought out and completed — "our justification"; and that raising again is the public manifesto from the court of heaven that the act is registered and recognised before the throne of God. Does anyone urge that his particular justification could not have been accomplished before his repentance and faith? Then observe that our personal faith is not the antecedent to our justification, but simply the recipient of that which has been wrought out for us by Jesus only, on the Cross. It is the benefits of justification to the individual penitent that depends upon his laying hold of that free gift which has been prepared for him. What he needs is simply warrant to return to God; and, therefore, when he is turning, what more is requisite for him to do but to lift the eye of faith, and see that the path is open, that the barriers between him and his God have been long ago removed; that the new and living way has been consecrated through the veil; that is to say, Christ's flesh; and, therefore, that he has only to draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith? Your state of justification, your feelings of acceptance and adoption, depend, indeed, on having in your bosom the scroll of pardon, sealed with Jesus's blood; and your continuance in the enjoyment of that state depends on your frequent looking at it, and your watchful preservation of it: but the act of justification — it has been already achieved; the pardon itself — it has already passed the great seal; the scroll in which it is recorded — it has been already exhibited on the Cross of Jesus; and you cannot write, nor seal, nor countersign it. Look up then upon the record and leap for joy; behold the public testimony of it, and "bless the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who of His abundant mercy hath begotten you again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."
III. AS THE PLEDGE THAT ALL WHO REALISE IN THEMSELVES THE EFFICACY OF THAT DEATH SHALL BE SIMILARLY REWARDED WITH PARTICIPATION IN THAT RESURRECTION. Jesus died, not as an individual only, but as the substitute and representative of guilty man; and Jesus was raised again, not as an individual only, but as the head and' representative of pardoned men; and consequently as we realise the efficacy of His death, so does the fact which Easter commemorates assure us that we shall realise the glory of His resurrection (Romans 6:5-10).
(T. Griffith, A. M.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;