Sometimes the answer to the question Why celebrate Jesus’ resurrection? focuses on the forgiveness of our sin. That is a good reason to celebrate. Knowing that God no longer holds our sin against us, because Jesus cleared God’s name of any charge of unjustly doing good to those who deserve punishment, should take a load of anxiety from our minds. On the cross the Son of God took the punishment due the people of God. By raising Jesus from the dead God validated his success as someone who fully honored God in all of his life: “We do not have a high priest incapable of sympathizing with our weaknesses, but one who has been tested in every way that we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Therefore, we have been reconciled to God.
But as wonderful as forgiveness of sin is, there’s an even greater reason to celebrate the resurrection! Forgiveness is not an end in itself; we’re not just “off the hook.” Indeed, reconciliation is not even an end, as wonderful as it is to be able to relate to God positively again. God’s goal—this is amazing!—God’s desire, when he planned and executed the incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection, was that he would be able to freely and righteously be gracious to people forever, that he would joyfully be able to enable us to experience all that he is as God.
In the letter to the congregation at Ephesus, we read: “But God, who is rich in mercy because of his great love for us, even though we were dead in transgressions, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you are saved—and he raised us up together and seated us together in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, to demonstrate in the coming ages the surpassing wealth of his grace in useful kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. That is, you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast. Indeed, we are his workmanship that has been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand for us to experience” (Ephesians 2:4–10).
In other words, God’s goal in uniting his people with Jesus in both the crucifixion and the resurrection was that we would be able to experience the unsurpassed riches of his grace in the form of good works that he will do for us … forever! The Apostle Peter put it this way: “According to his great mercy, God has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead; that is, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you” until he’s ready to finally reveal it (1 Peter 1:3–4).
So let’s not just rejoice in being forgiven. Let’s not miss out on the “joy unspeakable and full of glory.” Let’s rejoice in the fullness of all that the resurrection means, even if we only have glimpses now of how wonderful that will be. “Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that whenever it is revealed we will be like him, because we will see him just as he is” (1 John 3:2).