In his extravagant generosity, grace, and mercy, he will lavish his people not only with entrance to a new heavens and new earth, where righteousness dwells, but on top of it all, he will reward his people for what good they have done “in the body” (2 Corinthians 5:10). On that great day, we will see it with our own eyes — and feel its full effects as recipients of his great mercy by faith: our advocate will stand supreme as final judge and complete the arc of his glories as the God-man.
We ended the first session, and Look #5, with why Jesus was despised, rejected, and crushed to death at the cross: for us, for “the many,” for those who receive him through faith (Isaiah 53:4–6). I noted there, at the end, “the joy set before him.” That, as Isaiah 53:11 foretold, “out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied.” In other words, it pleased him. He delighted to be put to death. His willing was not an empty willing but a full, satisfied willing — full enough to sustain him in horrifying agony and suffering.
But what such joy requires is resurrection. If Jesus stays dead, there is no joy, no delight, no God-honoring and church-loving willingness. But resurrection is right there in Isaiah 53:10–12:
Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.
So much there: substitution, willing submission, intercession (which we’ll come to). But for now, amazingly, resurrection:
- Verse 10: “He shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.”
- Verse 11: “He shall see [his offspring] and be satisfied.”
- Verse 12: “I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death.”
The resurrection is not icing on the cake of Christianity. With Christ’s life and his death, it is the cake. If he did not rise, then he is dead — and it all falls apart. Unlike with sacrificial animals, appointed as a temporary provision, the once-for-all salvation is not accomplished without the resurrection of the suffering servant.
So before we go on, here are our five looks at Jesus so far:
- He delighted his Father before creation.
- He became man.
- He lived for his Father’s glory.
- He humbled himself.
- He died for sins not his own.
Now, to the rest of our ten looks at Christ.
Look #6: He rose again.
Colossians 1:15–20 might be the most important six consecutive verses in the Bible. Here we find both creation and salvation cast in utterly Christ-centered terms:
[Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
Jesus is “the firstborn from the dead.” During his life, all those he restored to life died again. But when Jesus rose again, he rose never to die again.
Our key term for Look #6 is resurrection. Which means not to be restored to your fallen, human body to die again, but to rise in your body to the indomitable life of the next age. It is a real body. In fact, we might even say a more real body. What will be true of us was true of Christ’s human body first. 1 Corinthians 15:42–44:
What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body [not a spirit but a spiritual body]. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.
So resurrection refers first to Jesus’s human body, then also, in him, to ours. And the resurrection of Christ not only made good on God’s word, and not only vindicated Christ’s sinless life, and not only confirmed the achievement of his death, and not only gives us access to his work, but the resurrection means he is alive to know and enjoy forever.
There is no final good news if our Treasure and Pearl of Great Price is dead. Even if our sins could be paid for, righteousness provided and applied to us, and heaven secured, but Jesus were still dead, there would be no great salvation in the end. At the very center of Christ’s resurrection is not what he saves us from, but what he saves us to — better, whom he saves us to: himself.
Look #7: He ascended into heaven.
Twice Luke writes about Jesus’s ascension. The first time at the end of his Gospel, Luke 24:50–51:
[Jesus] led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven.
Then, in more detail, at the beginning of Acts:
When [the disciples] had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:6–11)
So, Luke 24 says, “He parted from them and was carried up into heaven.” And Acts 1 says, “He was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.” Then the angel says, “Jesus . . . was taken up from you into heaven.”
Jesus — in his risen human body — was lifted up, carried up, taken up, until a cloud shielded the sight of his apostles, and he was gone. And this was no novelty act. This was crucial for the presentation of his finished work in the very presence of the Father and for the fulfilling of the ancient prophesies of his sitting on David’s throne and ruling as sovereign over the nations.
Luke 24 and Acts 1 give us the earthly vantage of his ascension. But we also get a glimpse from the other side in Hebrews 1. His ascension, human body and all, brings him to heaven, and Hebrews 1 captures something of this great moment of his processing to the throne and being crowned king of the universe. Hebrews 1:3 says,
After making purification for sins [that is, through his death, and being raised and ascending], he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
Hebrews 1:5 then takes the great coronation hymn of Psalm 2 and applies its Messianic declaration to Jesus as the heir of David: “You are my Son, today I have begotten you.” And Hebrews 1:6 says that “when he brings [carries, lifts up, takes up] the firstborn into the world [that is, “the world to come,” Hebrews 2:5], he says, ‘Let all God’s angels worship him.’”
All this to set the scene for Psalm 110 in Hebrews 1:13: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” Not a full account, by any means, but a taste of that climactic moment of coronation on the other side of the ascension.
Enthroned as Man
There are two critical realities worth mentioning with his enthronement and sitting down. (1) In taking his seat on the very throne of heaven, he comes into the fullness of divine sovereignty, and now as man. As he says at the end of Matthew, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18). It always was his as God. But now, he has come into full possession of the divine rule over the universe and all nations as man, sitting as the climactic human king on the throne of heaven.