Because Christ is risen, we rise spiritually.
Apart from Christ, our hearts are darkened by sin. We are slaves to sin. We are cursed souls. We are incapable of pleasing God. Even our best moments are tainted by mixed motives and selfish conceit. But in Christ’s death we have found full and final forgiveness. The debt we owed has been paid, and the subsequent curses of our sin have been removed. But more than that, now, in his resurrection, the spoils of the King are being distributed.
In the resurrection, the King has not just won the battle, but he has also returned, and he has brought with him gifts. He has been raised to now apply the justification he has won (Bavinck, 1956), and it begins with hearts that are raised. This is all over the New Testament. Let me give you just a quick sampling…
In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he declares that we have been raised up with Christ. Ephesians 2:4-6 reads, “ But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,  even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him…” So, with Christ, we died to sin, but not only that, with Christ, we were raised to walk in newness of life. In Christ’s resurrection, we have a spiritual resurrection. We are spiritually alive, and out of this the church is birthed.
How does this happen? Christ sends the Holy Spirit. This is what the Apostle Peter explains in the Book of Acts when the Holy Spirit arrives. He says, “ Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.  Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne,  he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.  This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.  Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing” (Acts 2:29-33). So how is it that the Holy Spirit is being poured out on all who believe? Peter says it is because Jesus is not dead. He is alive, and he has gone to His Father and sent back the Holy Spirit. If he had not been resurrected, we would not expect the Spirit to come. But because he is alive and well, it only makes sense that the Spirit has now arrived.
Later, in the same letter, Paul describes Jesus as the victorious King who returns bearing gifts for his people. But these gifts are not material blessings but spiritual gifts. Jesus gives his people spiritual gifts to bless them and build the church. Here is what we read: “ But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.  Therefore it says, ‘When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men’” (Ephesians 4:7-8). So the creation of the church is an overflow of Christ’s resurrection victory. We, the church, are here because the victorious King returned, bearing gifts to equip and build the church.
And by the way, you must understand that Jesus did not raise us to new life in some second-rate way, passing out little Hershey kisses of the Spirit. Paul clarifies earlier in his letter to the Ephesians (1:19-20) that the very same power that raised Jesus from the grave is the same power that is now at work in us through the Holy Spirit (cf. Romans 8:11).
And of course, this is exactly what Christ said he would do just before his execution. He promised that he would go back to the Father and he would send the Holy Spirit to be in us (John 16). In his rising and his ascension to heaven, he has kept that promise.
Easter means we can know a new kind of spiritual life. We can be enlightened and awakened. We can be free from darkness. So we celebrate because Christ’s resurrection means our spiritual resurrection.
Bavinck, H. (1956). Our reasonable faith: A survey of Christian doctrine (H. Zylstra, trans.). Wipf and Stock Publishers.
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