Easter really happened! We spend a lot of time affirming the historical truth of Jesus’ resurrection. But what about the theological significance? What does Easter mean for you, for me and for our world?
In part 1 we thought about how the resurrection shows Jesus’ work to be successful and effective in dealing with sin. Here in part 2 we see how the resurrection also declares the death of death.
Death is one of those things in our modern western world that people like to ignore—until a friend or family member dies. For the majority of the human race who live in the rest of the world, however, death is often front and centre, with many regularly losing family and friends to disease or famine. Those outside the west seem to take death more seriously. Perhaps this is why they take Jesus more seriously as well!
The Bible presents death as a necessary consequence of sin. Paul tells us that death came through the sin of the one man—Adam (Rom 5:12-14; 1 Cor 15:21-22)—and that “death spread to all men because all sinned” (Rom 5:12). Romans 6:23 declares that “the wages of sin is death”. Death, then, is a result of human sin. It’s a reality for all humankind, and even though many today wouldn’t like to admit it, death scares us. For many, death is the end and brings with it great mystery and uncertainty. The Bible’s analysis here lines up with our experience: human beings are held in slavery by their fear of death (Heb 2:15). We express this fear by spending all the money we have on the ‘now’ and trying to stay alive for as long as we can.
But again, this is where a proper understanding of Jesus’s resurrection helps. The resurrection of Jesus declares the death of death! Hebrews 2:14 says, “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil”. The reason why we can so triumphantly announce that death has been defeated is because Jesus has risen. Jesus didn’t simply go to death, but through death. By rising from the dead, Jesus showed that death could not hold him down and that he has abolished it (Acts 2:24; 2 Tim 1:10). At the very moment when it looked as though the powers of evil had won in crucifying Jesus, three days later he was raised!
Not only that, but as Hebrews 2:14 proclaims, the devil himself has been defeated. Figuratively speaking, Jesus has invaded the strong man’s fortress, disarmed and bound him, and robbed him of his spoil (Luke 11:21-22). The devil and his entourage have been disarmed and his work destroyed (Col 2:15; 1 John 3:8).
This means that death is no longer the end for those who are in Christ. Death and the devil are no longer to be feared. We do not need to “eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” (1 Cor 15:32), because the dead are raised! As Herman Bavinck puts it, “His resurrection was a birth from death and hence a victory over death and over him who had the power of death, the devil”.
 Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics Volume 3, Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, 2003, p. 438.