“The wonderful thing about Christ dying is that he rose on the third day. Not just any man can do that…he’s more than just a man.” Kim Plumblee, April 16, 1976
He’s more than just a man.
It doesn’t matter who says it. The Bible teaches it. Preachers proclaim it. In the case of the quote above, fifteen-year-old Kim Plumblee wrote it in her diary in 1976. Bottom line: Jesus is more than just a man. And not just any man can resurrect on the third day.
His resurrection changed everything.
In God’s providence, he had a plan that was enacted in history. Jesus said, “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24). This plan was born in eternity past, and it included us.
“…even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.” Ephesians 1:4
This gospel plan came to pass at a point in history because created humankind was not holy or blameless. A very real historical Jesus, who lived in Israel, was put to death nearly 2,000 years ago. He died a criminal’s death according to God’s plan.
“He it is who came to win me on the Cross of shame…” Frances Bevan, Hymns of Ter Steegan and Others
This gospel brought about the payment of sin. This is a mercy to us, God paying a price we owed. Romans 6:23 heralds, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The wages we owed were paid by Christ. Grace was given to us as a gift. Grace is defined as receiving something we do not deserve. His grace delivered to us the gift of Christ’s righteousness to fulfill the requirement of his holy Father. Paid. Gifted.
It’s not the gospel if it has to be earned. Yet, salvation is not free; it cost Jesus his life. The gospel includes the birth, life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. To quote the hymn writer, Elvina M. Hall, “Jesus paid it all…” Finished.
However, salvation is free to us. Mark this again—if it has to be earned, it’s not the gospel.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
The gospel heralds a free gift. In humility and in faith, we turn to God and receive his offer of salvation in Christ. Once this gift is in my hands, I’m justified. I’m forgiven. I’m redeemed. Further, I am a changed man. I’m made new. Once simply a creation, 2 Corinthians 5:17 reveals I am now a new creation.
And here’s why the gospel annihilates hopelessness in this life. Here’s why the gospel gives comfort and context to loss. The gospel doesn’t end with my forgiveness. While it is a gift to be redeemed and to be a new creation, that is not the best part of the gospel. Yes, we’ve now been made new before God. However, his gift, at its essence, is himself. He made us righteous so that we have him as our treasure. What sort of eternal hope is it if I’m simply a better version of myself? The way to God has been forged.
And this gospel changed everything.
I’m not hopeful about temporal loss because I’m forgiven; I’m not hopeful because I’m better than I was before. I’m hopeful because the gospel annihilates eternal hopelessness. By faith, any loss will pale in comparison to the eternal gift of his presence.
“No longer looking to his hand but gazing on his face…” Frances Bevan, Hymns of Ter Steegan and Others
The gospel doesn’t just promise I can see Kim again one day. It promises that I will see Jesus. The gospel reunites me with my Creator.
The gospel changes everything. It annihilates hopelessness. That’s why I am hopeful.
“The sorrow of a loss can lead us to the man of sorrows because Jesus is the answer to the cause of every pain.” Mark Vroegop, Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy
“No longer will there be anything accursed…They will see his face…And night will be no more…the Lord will be their light…” Revelation 22:3-5