So why is this central act and day so important, and what does it mean for us nearly 2,000 years later? What does the resurrection specifically tell us about God’s heart and how we can live in the power and grace of Easter every day?

Why Jesus Died and Why He Rose

by Adam Wittenberg
4/23/19 Christian Living

Why did Jesus die? And why did He rise from the dead? Was it really necessary? Wasn’t there another way? A cleaner way? A less severe way to pay for all humanity’s sins and purchase their salvation?

Jesus was perfect—the sinless Son of God. Couldn’t He have triumphed over sin with a word, an act of power, or another wonderful miracle (like healing bodies or multiplying food)? Why did He have to die and give His life into the hands of sinners? Why was He beaten, spit on, and hung on a cross to die hours later of suffocation?

This is a divine mystery. And pondering it can make us uncomfortable.

Easter—or Resurrection Day, as it’s known in church circles—is to be the high point of the church calendar. Even more so than Christmas, which celebrates Jesus’ birth, we are to mark Resurrection Day because without it there would be no Christian faith, no eternal life, and no hope.

Every prophet and spiritual leader has a birthday, but only one in all of history lived, died, and was resurrected—and all of that as full payment for our sins. Jesus’ resurrection forms the cornerstone of our faith, so much so that the apostle Paul writes, “If Christ is not risen, your faith is futile” (1 Corinthians 15:17).

So why is this central act and day so important, and what does it mean for us nearly 2,000 years later? What does the resurrection specifically tell us about God’s heart and how we can live in the power and grace of Easter every day?

Let’s look for a moment at what Jesus did after He was resurrected. While the reasons for His death and resurrection are vitally important, and many books have been written and sermons preached on these topics, perhaps what has not been as thoroughly explored is what Jesus’ risen life means for the believer today.

Join me in examining three of the traits that Jesus highlighted during the 40 days after He exited that tomb, and how these can apply to our lives today.

1. Being Relational
Jesus was and is all about relationships. He enjoys a perfect relationship with His Father, and as a man, He lived only to please Him and accomplish His will “on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). That is what prompted Jesus to go to the cross, to “lay down [His] life that [He] may take it again” (John 10:17), and to ransom us back to God.

The cross was the ultimate statement of our worth and the way back into a relationship with the Father for all who will turn and believe. Jesus built relationships during His time on earth, and that continued after He rose from the grave. During the 40 days after the resurrection, He appeared to more than 500 people at once (1 Corinthians 15:6), restored Peter who had denied Him three times (John 21), cleared up Thomas’ doubts (John 20:27), and spent time with His disciples, teaching them about Himself in the Scriptures (Acts 1:3).

Although He was now “the risen Son of God,” He continued to relate to His followers (friends, really) much as before. He was relational, enjoying time with them, teaching them, and caring for their needs with the same compassion that marked His ministry before the cross.

This is good news for us: the same God who died and rose from the dead wanted relationship with His spiritual family even after He had completed a major part of His ministry. And He still wants relationship with us even after we receive the gift of salvation by faith. Don’t gloss over this point: salvation is the start of a journey, not the end—just as the cross began a journey the Church is still walking out nearly 2,000 years later. There is more to the story!

Prayer: Lord, give us eyes to see more clearly how much You love us and want a close relationship with us even if we’ve known You for years. You never get tired of us or lose interest in our hearts. Let us not lose interest in Yours. Amen.

2. Being Purposeful
Jesus came for a purpose, as He stated in His own words to Pilate, “For this reason I was born, and for this reason I came into the world—to testify to the truth” (John 18:37, NET). And He purposefully rose from the dead. Purpose marked everything He did, and it flowed over into the lives of His disciples.

In Jesus’ first encounter outside the tomb He charged Mary Magdalene to go and tell His brothers that He rose and that He would meet them in Galilee (Matthew 28:10John 20:17). Soon after, He charged His followers to go into all the world and preach the gospel and make disciples of all nations, a mission that continues today (Matthew 28:18–20Mark 16:15).

Even when Jesus encountered two disciples on the road to Emmaus, He spent most of the conversation explaining how Moses and all the prophets testified of Him, demonstrating the ministry of proclamation (Luke 24:27).

Jesus wasted no time and spent most of the rest of His 40 days on the earth teaching His disciples about God’s kingdom and preparing them to advance it. The work He had started was now to be carried out in partnership with those who believed in Him. And nearly 2,000 years later, it still is through you and me.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for appearing to Your disciples to confirm Your resurrection and for sending them out with a mission. Encounter me afresh with the reality of Your risen life and cause me to walk in the mission to which I’m called, to the glory of Your name. Amen.

3. Being Spiritual
As good as it was for the disciples to see Jesus again, He had promised them shortly before His death that something better—Someone better, actually—was coming. “It is better for you that I go away, because if I do not go, the Helper will not come to you. But if I do go away, then I will send Him to you” (John 16:7, GNT).

This Helper is the promised Holy Spirit, “the Spirit of truth . . . [who] dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:17). Jesus even told His followers to “tarry in the city of Jerusalem until [they were] endued with power from on high” before starting their ministry to “Judea, Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Luke 24:49Acts 1:8).

The resurrection didn’t end our spiritual journey. It began it. Because of Christ’s death and resurrection, “the veil of the temple was torn in two,” meaning that all believers now have access to the Holy of Holies—God’s very presence (Matthew 27:51). God lives inside of us through His Holy Spirit, making each of us a temple or tabernacle for His presence.

This presence empowers us to minister as evidenced by how the apostles proclaimed Christ boldly and performed many miracles in Jesus’ name (Acts 2–10). This power is intended for every believer and is available to us today. Will we ask (see Luke 11:13)?

Prayer: Jesus, I want to be filled with Your Spirit’s power this day and every day. Help me to live in moment-to-moment fellowship with You, walking as You walked and living as You lived. In Your name, amen.

Easter, or Resurrection Day, doesn’t have to be a once-a-year celebration. It isn’t meant to be. There’s simply too much there to be confined to one day. And through these simple prayers, we can continue to grow in being relational, purposeful, and spiritual, ready for good works that advance Christ’s kingdom on a daily basis.

How can you walk in the power and grace of Christ’s resurrection on a daily basis?

For more on this topic, we recommend Contending for the Power of God by Mike Bickle. In this four-part teaching series (available for download, on CD, or MP3 CD), Mike Bickle weaves together inspiring stories from John G. Lake’s life, an exhortation from Jude, and powerful, practical truths to take hold of day by day. Learn more >>

Adam Wittenberg


    A Detroit native who was raised in Vermont and Connecticut, Adam worked as a newspaper journalist until 2012, when he moved to Kansas City to complete the Intro to IHOPKC internship. Afterwards, he earned a four-year certificate in House of Prayer Leadership from IHOPU and is now on full-time staff in the Marketing department at IHOPKC. He also serves in the NightWatch (overnight prayer hours) and is active in evangelism. He, and his wife Stephany, have a vision to reach people everywhere with the good news of Jesus Christ.

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