Why the resurrection of Jesus is even more important than his death
The death of Jesus is vitally important, because in God's arrangement it accomplished the purchase of 4 things at once:
1. Jesus died as an "exchange" or "ransom" for the first man Adam, whose disobedience had brought the penalty of death upon all men by the process of heredity. This made Jesus "the 2nd Adam", and the one righteous act of sacrifice which he performed brought about the "free gift" of justification of life for all mankind. All? Yes all -- just as many as were marred by Adam's sin, that same number, gain the "free gift" of justification to life. -- Romans 5:18-21 More on "justification to life"
2. Jesus died as a "sin offering" for the church -- his death as a "sympathetic high priest" and "forerunner" of those who follow in his footsteps qualifies him to be our "advocate" with the Father. He can express his sympathy for us when we fall short in our duties as his followers, representatives of God and his word to the world. He is not ashamed to call us brethren, an amazing fact in view of the sins of Christians down through the ages, which Martin Luther called "huge sins". In fact, looking at the types and shadows of sacrifices for sin in the book of Leviticus, we notice that two animals were offered for apparently two categories of sin. The larger, fatter animal, the bullock, was offered for the sins of Aaron and his house -- the priests. The smaller, scrawnier animal, the goat, was offered for the "sins of the people". (Leviticus 16:11-16). We see in 1 John 2:2 that Christ's sacrifice was efficacious for our sins, and also for the sins of the whole world. So of those two categories of sins which Jesus died for, the sins of those who have claimed Jesus as their Lord in the last 2000 years appears to be the more egregious, more costly sins which Jesus needed to atone for. Praise God that because of Jesus' sin offering on behalf of all his followers, we can always approach the throne of God's grace "boldly"
3. Jesus died as a special sacrifice on behalf of the Jewish people, whose sins under the law placed them under an extra condemnation of sorts. Not only did the Jewish people suffer the normal human setbacks that came through heredity from father Adam, but the Jews also had made a covenant with God, sealed in blood, to follow all the duties and ceremonial features of the Law Covenant. Their failure to fulfill those stringent requirements incurred certain penalties. By dying "on a tree", Jesus bore the worst curse that the law provided, and thus purchased the right to set the Jewish people free from their obligations under the law covenant. The logic of these issues is presented by Paul in Hebrews, Galatians, and Romans.
4. When Jesus' blood spilled on the ground, it signalled another part of redemption hinted at in scripture -- that the earth itself was purchased by Christ at his death. Now, he holds title to this "purchased possession" as Paul called it in Ephesians, and therefore has the right along with the sovereign intention of bringing "times of restitution of all things" spoken by the prophets to be accomplished by his coming. That restoration or restitution includes, as Isaiah puts it, "the desert shall blossom as the rose", and "filling the face of the world with fruit". The world will become a fitting home, promised to be an actual "paradise" which all mankind will enjoy, when the resurrection work is complete.
Why Jesus' resurrection is even more important
Paul states in 1 Corinthians that Christ was put to death for our sins, but raised for our justification. This concept relates to point 2 above, the redemptive work that Christ does on behalf of the church as the "author of their salvation."
In his death, Jesus served as a "sin offering" for the Church. As we all know, the Church has good intentions. It means well. It offers itself to God as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1,2). However, if we think about the "typical" or prototype illustrations of redemption found in Leviticus and explained in Hebrews, we can gain some insights into how Jesus' sacrifice makes the Church's offering acceptable to God.
In Leviticus, the priests presented animals as their surrogates, but the animals had to be flawless, without defect. In the case of the "living sacrifices" of the church, we are told that "there is none righteous, no not one." We are by nature children of wrath -- that is, children who inherited the wrath this living sacrifice could not possibly be acceptable to God without some mighty help from above.
1. It is the resurrected Jesus who supplies that help. He is the head of the church, and he promised us that he would be "with us always -- even to the end of the age." So a big part of our walk with God is our relationship with our elder brother, Christ.
When Paul was persecuting the early church, it was Jesus who appeared to him, saying, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute ME?" Jesus feels every pain that his followers feel, because he is described as the Head of the body of Christ, the true church or "called out assembly" of God.
2. The resurrected Jesus provides the righteous covering that allows God to enter into a relationship with us. Though we are still sinful, still incomplete, God provided the resurrected Lord Jesus as our robe of righteousness. It is IN HIM that we are acceptable, and able to boldly enter the throne of God's grace, pictured by the most holy of the Tabernacle. His blood covers our sins, but his resurrection is what gives us the ongoing relationship of justification before God. see Romans 4:25.
3. Often in our walk with God, we commit sins of a more wilful nature, that are not strictly speaking attributable to our fallen human condition. These sins of the spirit can separate us from God, but the living Jesus also speaks on our behalf with God. See 1 John 2:1-2. To the church, the resurrected Lord Jesus is our advocate, our spokesman before God.
The spiritual brotherhood of Christ
Jesus poured out his soul unto death. (Isaiah 53:12) The original being that had existed with God since before the time of creation, and was "made flesh" "for the suffering of death", had been offered up as a sacrifice for Adam. But something new began at the river Jordan, a new, higher spiritual life, the Divine Nature. This is when the Scriptures state that God said, "This is my beloved son" ... "This day have I begotten thee." For Jesus, a new spiritual life began, and it was the spiritual life of Christ that was resurrected on the third day. (clearly stated in 1 Peter 3:18)
The exciting truth for Christians is that like Jesus, we learn obedience by what we suffer, we are begotten from above to a spiritual, heavenly reward as a joint-heir with Christ. 2 Peter 1:1-4 clearly states that we, too are promised the Divine Nature. This is the amazing opportunity presented to the church of Christ -- to share with Christ (as his "bride") in the throne of God as the inner circle of God's family, as it were. (see Ephesians 1:10 which presents a view that God's family in the completion of time will include both heavenly and earthly members)
As we follow Christ's footsteps, we find that the spiritual journey we take was established or authored by Christ, (Hebrews 5:7-9) and we learn the tough spiritual lessons of life in the same way that He did, except of course that he accomplished his priestly service "without sin." (Hebrews 4:15) We sin nearly constantly, but the resurrected Lord Jesus in his role as our advocate provides an arrangement whereby our relationship can deepen and grow as we learn and accept the lessons of spiritual growth.
In summary, the death of Jesus purchase life for the human race, but to become the Messiah and deliver the world from sin and death, we need the resurrected Jesus.
The sufferings of Jesus provided a priestly example for the church to follow, but we need a resurrected Jesus to be the head of the church, nurturing and guiding them in a living relationship as friend and advocate, throughout our journey.
The death of Jesus provided a redemption for the Jewish people, but the resurrected Jesus, united with the church, will become what the Jewish people need to deliver them from their sins and recover them fully from their past: the Messiah, the "deliverer". Romans 11:26
The death of Jesus purchased the earth, but it will be the resurrected Jesus who will be the "Lord of the Sabbath" -- the great leader who will bring peace, hope, restitution and life to the entire earth, restoring it to its glory, while completing its full potential that has never been realized. (See Acts 3:19-21)