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What does Jesus’ resurrection mean for you? What was the Easter celebration about? While Jesus’ resurrection means so much for us, there is one facet I want to reflect on today: the resurrection as proof of our being put right with God, now and forever! We find this wondrous assurance in the apostle Paul’s letter to Roman Christians in which he writes concerning our Savior, “who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification” (Romans 4:25).

Here, in just a few words, we engage the horror and shame of Good Friday leading to triumphant Easter Sunday. You cannot find a better, more concise statement of the Gospel than Jesus being handed over for our trespasses and raised for our justification. The richness of the verse is revealed in the Greek preposition dia, translated twice in this verse as “for”: “Jesus was handed over to death for (dia) and was raised for (dia) our justification.” The Greek proposition dia is variously translated in the New Testament as “for”, “by reason of”, and “on account of.” The word dia expresses the grounds or reason by which something is done or not done.

Let me illustrate: I remember a time when you could go into a post office and see FBI wanted posters with pictures and names of criminals wanted FOR crimes like mail fraud, bank robbery and murder. Obviously, the FBI was not recruiting or advertising FOR people to commit crimes, but were stating reasons FOR which criminals were pursued. That is the sense of Paul’s use of “for” (dia) in this verse: “Jesus was handed over to death FOR – ‘by reason of, on account of’ – our trespasses, and “He was raised from the dead FOR– ‘by reason of, on account of’ – our justification.”  Jesus’s tomb was empty ‘by reason of, on account of’ Jesus having put us right with God through His death on the cross. Christ’s resurrection is God’s resounding “Amen!” to Jesus dying words: “It is finished!” His “resurrection was proof that His work was accepted by the Father. What he had done, in order that sinners might be saved, was approved. Our justification, therefore became sure, as it was for this that He had given Himself up to death.” (Albert Barnes, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible) God’s mission accomplished!

Here’s something wonderful to think about on this Easter Monday: if even one of our sins was not taken away by Jesus, He would still be dead in the tomb. His resurrection is proof ‘by reason of, on account of’ our justification and our being put right with God.

So today, and throughout this Easter Season, we joyously proclaim: “Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!” He is, “the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

A fellow traveler,

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